Re: Great Filter Material

Anders Sandberg (
24 Jun 1999 16:22:20 +0200

Charlie Stross <> writes:

> Note that there will be lots of stars with slightly less circular orbits
> where multicellular life never gets a chance to start because every two
> hundred megayears or so it gets toasted by the core supernovae. But this
> won't matter a lot to humans intent on finding lebensraum; just find a
> nice, sterile terrestrial planet orbiting a star that's heading up and
> out of the core and you've got, oh, the best part of a hundred million
> years to terraform it then live there in comfort. (Assuming that the
> rustic carbon-based way of life appeals to you.)

Of course, once you have settled in nicely for a few million years and got that home feeling for your planet, then you are not happy about having it incinerated. So the next obvious question is how to protect your planet against supernovae. Presumably you can detect all stars in the vicinity that might blow up, and even predict when they will go off (within a few centuries or so). What forms of shielding might be workable? Especially the close range neutrinos might be tricky to deal with. Maybe the best solution is to be pro-active and try to defuse the novas or move them (or the sun) out of the way.

> (One thing most interstellar SF ignores is that colonizing a planet that
> already supports a complex biosphere may be a rather, ahem, interesting
> experience, immunologically speaking.)

Yes, this is bound to be complicated and unpredictable. Although it is not obvious how much an alien biochemistry will be allergenic or toxic. And then of course there are the common effects of strange chemicals on our digestive system - eating local stuff is likely ill advised. My guess is that the biggest problem will be accidental toxicity, as common substances in the biosphere might be similar to important chemicals in our bodies. For example, in my current sf game there is a disease where an otherwise fairly benign microorganism produces an adrenaline-analogue when it colonizes the lungs.

Of course, the best solution here is to adapt to local biochemistry. Why not get a body suited to the local environment and fauna?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y