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That effort was killed by the local electric industry , which saw our technology as a threat to its revenues and profits, and my wild ride began. Digestive Diseases Nov-Dec;16 6: What should students come away understanding? Erich Fromm Born , died Gramsci's writings were used to argue that class conflict which Marx and Engels placed at the core of history was as much a struggle for the creation of new ideas as anything else. The theorists were spectacularly wrong, the empiricists had abandoned their primary principle of observation, and it was up to inventors to finally open their eyes and minds, years after the public witnessed the new technologies working. This site is exactly what I have been looking for!


People and ideas systems

This, for what my opinion is worth, is one of the best philosophical excuses for the practice of science fiction—if an excuse is needed. The molecule-seers presumably lack all astronomical data; what are we missing? The human species has, as a matter of fact, done a rather impressive job of overcoming its sensory limitations, though I see no way of ever being sure when the job is done.

Philosophy aside, there are many more details of shape to be considered for nonhuman beings. Many of the pertinent factors have been pointed out by other writers, such as L. DeCamp reached the conclusion that an intelligent life form would have to wind up not grossly different in structure from a human being—carrying its sense organs high and close to the brain, having a limited number of limbs with a minimum number of these specialized for locomotion and the others for manipulation, having a rigid skeleton, and being somewhere between an Irish terrier and a grizzly bear in size.

The lower size limits was set by the number of cells needed for a good brain, and the upper one by the bulk of body which could be handled by a brain without overspecialization. Sprague admitted both his estimates to be guesses, but I have seen no more convincing ones since.

Whenever I have departed greatly from his strictures in my own stories, I have always felt the moral need to supply an excuse, at least to myself. The need for an internal skeleton stems largely from the nature of muscle tissue, which can exert force only by contracting and is therefore much more effective with a good lever system to work with. If any experienced scuba divers wish to dispute this matter of taste, go right ahead. I admit that so far, thank goodness, I am working from theory on this specific matter.

This leads to a point which should be raised in any science fiction essay. I have made a number of quite definite statements in the preceding pages, and will make several more before finishing this chapter. Anyone with the slightest trace of intelligent critical power can find a way around most of these dicta by setting up appropriate situations.

Mission of Gravity complicated the size and speed issue by variable gravity. If no one has the urge, imagination, and knowledge to kick specific holes in the things I say here, my favorite form of relaxation is in danger of going out with a whimper.

If someone takes exception to the statement that muscles can only pull, by all means do something about it. We know a good deal about Earthly muscle chemistry these days; maybe a pushing cell could be worked out. I suspect it would need a very strong cell wall, but why not?

Have fun with the idea. If you can make it plausible, you will have destroyed at a stroke many of the currently plausible engineering limitations to the shapes and power of animals.

I could list examples for the rest of my available pages, but you should have more fun doing it yourself. Most authors seem to have learned that it is extremely hard to invent anything stranger than some of the life forms already on our planet, and many writers as a result have taken to using either these creatures as they are, or modifying them in size and habit, or mixing them together.

The last, in particular, is not a new trick; the sphinx and hippogriff have been with us for some time. With our present knowledge, though, we have to be careful about the changes and mixtures we make.

Pegasus , for example, will have to remain mythological. Also, the horse would have to extract a great deal more energy than it does from its hay diet to power the flight muscles even if it could find room for them in an equine anatomy. Actually, the realization that body engineering and life-style are closely connected is far from new.

There is a story about Baron Cuvier , a naturalist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It seems that one night his students decided to play a practical joke, and one of them dressed up in a conglomeration of animal skins, including that of a deer.

I am going to eat you! You have horns and hooves. The trick of magnifying a normal creature to menacing size is all too common. The giant amoeba is a familar example; monster insects or whole populations of them even more so. Things like strength of muscle and rate of chemical and heat exchange with the environment depend on surface or cross-section area, and change with the square of linear size; Swift's Brobdingnagians would therefore have a hundred times the strength and oxygen intake rate of poor Gulliver.

It seems unlikely that they could have stood, much less walked can you support ten times your present weight? This is why a whale, though an air breather, suffocates if he runs ashore; he lacks the muscular strength to expand his chest cavity against its own weight.

That is, unless they had to spend too much time in eating to offset their excessive losses of body heat…. There seems reason to believe that at least with Earthly biochemistry, the first and last of these weaknesses do not favor intelligence. A rather similar factor operates against the idea of having a manlike creature get all his energy from sunlight, plant style.

This was covered years ago by V. Of course, we can get around some of this by hypothesizing a hotter, closer sun, with all the attendant complications of higher planet temperature.

This is fun to work out, and some of us do it, but remember that a really basic change of this sort affects everything in the ecological pyramid sitting on that particular energy base—in other words, all the life on the planet. It may look from all this as though a really careful and conscientious science fiction writer has to be a junior edition of the Almighty. Things are not really this bad.

I mentioned one way out a few pages ago in admitting there is a limit to the detail really needed. The limit is set not wholly by time, but by the fact that too much detail results in a Ph. I must admit that some of us do have this failing, which has to be sharply controlled by editors. Work out your world and its creatures as long as it remains fun; then Write your story, making use of any of the details you have worked out which help the story.

Write off the rest of the development work as something which built your own background picture—the stage setting, if you like—whose presence in your mind will tend to save you from the more jarring inconsistencies I use this word, very carefully, rather than errors. Remember, though, that among your readers there will be some who enjoy carrying your work farther than you did.

They will find inconsistencies which you missed; depend on it. Part of human nature is the urge to let the world know how right you were, so you can expect to hear from these people either directly or through fanzine pages.

Even if he is right and you are wrong, he has demonstrated unequivocally that you succeeded as a storyteller. You gave your audience a good time. Wikipedia has a nice article on Hypothetical types of biochemistry. He points out some other possibilities. Note that the "temperature" column has the information needed to set the borders of a solar system's circumstellar habitable zone for that particular biochemistry.

Temperatures assume the planet has about 1 atmosphere worth of pressure. Life on Terra is based on Carbon, since carbon can join with not one, not two, not even three, but a whopping four other atoms. This allows the construction of complex molecules like proteins and DNA, a requirement for living creatures. The only other element that can do this is Silicon, so the SF writers seized it.

They are also fond of harping on the fact that while most carbon-based animals on Terra exhale gaseous carbon dioxide, a poor silicon-based critter would breath out silicon dioxide, i. In "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum is a silicon life creature that "exhales" bricks of silicon dioxide, which it uses to build a pyramid around itself. Other chemical elements that are not impossible as the basis for alien life forms include ammonia , boron , nitrogen , and phosphorus.

There are even more extreme possibilities. There are several possibilities for the composition of alien blood. An example of electronic life is the superconducting mentality in Sir Arthur C.

Clarke's " Crusade ". Their "bodies" are organized clusters of millions of tiny whirlpools in still ponds. Another odd one was the Monolith Monsters. They were not invading aliens so much as an extraterrestrial chemical reaction. Radiotrophic fungi are fungi which appear to perform radiosynthesis , that is, to use the pigment melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth.

This proposed mechanism may be similar to anabolic pathways for the synthesis of reduced organic carbon e. However, whether melanin-containing fungi employ a similar multi-step pathway as photosynthesis, or some chemosynthesis pathways, is unknown. Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that three melanin-containing fungi— Cladosporium sphaerospermum , Wangiella dermatitidis , and Cryptococcus neoformans —increased in biomass and accumulated acetate faster in an environment in which the radiation level was times higher than in the normal environment. Similar effects on melanin electron-transport capability were observed by the authors after exposure to non-ionizing radiation, suggesting that melanotic fungi might also be able to use light or heat radiation for growth.

However, melanization may come at some metabolic cost to the fungal cells: Limited uptake of nutrients due to the melanin molecules in the fungal cell wall or toxic intermediates formed in melanin biosynthesis have been suggested to contribute to this phenomenon.

It is consistent with the observation that despite being capable of producing melanin, many fungi do not synthesize melanin constitutively i. The exact biochemical processes in the suggested melanin-based synthesis of organic compounds or other metabolites for fungal growth, including the chemical intermediates such as native electron donor and acceptor molecules in the fungal cell and the location and chemical products of this process, are unknown. They get along like chalk and cheese.

Very like chalk and cheese, really. One is organic, the other isn't, and also smells a bit cheesy. Dwarfs make a living by smashing up rocks with valuable minerals in them and the silicon-based lifeform known as trolls are, basically, rocks with valuable minerals in them.

In the wild they also spend most of the daylight hours dormant, and that's not a situation a rock containing valuable minerals needs to be in when there are dwarfs around. And dwarfs hate trolls because, after you've just found an interesting seam of valuable minerals, you don't like rocks that suddenly stand up and tear your arm off because you've just stuck a pick-axe in their ear.

But even if you handwave that away and declare that there are lots of different species of aliens, there is plenty of room for imagination. Especially in the alien's anatomy. Just here on Terra, we can find jellyfish, tarantulas, viruses, and giraffes. Face it, if these fellow Earth-creatures don't resemble us, a totally alien race from another planet ain't gonna look like Mr.

There might be creeping jellies, giant crystals, intelligent plants, mobile fungoids, energy creatures , fusion plasma beings dancing in solar coronas, liquid or gaseous life, swarming hive intelligences, superintelligent shades of the colour blue , and natural "electronic" life forms in pools of liquid helium.

They might not be made of meat. They might not even be composed of matter as we know it, like the Cheela from Dr. Robert Forward's Dragon's Egg who are made of neutronium and white dwarf star matter. Or the bizarre one from Damon Knight's Stranger Station. Some extraterrestrial creatures inhabit the depths of space itself. In Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End was a creature that lived in deep space among asteroid belts. It resembled a huge eye, about twenty feet in diameter.

Its survival depended upon the range and resolving power of its eye. Well, actually Olaf Stapedon's intelligent galaxies in Star Maker are bigger, but let's not get carried away. The beings first appeared in H. Lovecraft 's novella, " At the Mountains of Madness " published in , but written in , and later appeared, although not named, in the short story " The Dreams in the Witch-House " Six feet end to end, three and five-tenths feet central diameter, tapering to one foot at each end.

Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves. Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growths — combs or wings that fold up and spread out like fans.

Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in the Necronomicon. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness. In the Mythos canon, the Elder Things were the first extraterrestrial species to come to the Earth, colonizing the planet about one billion years ago.

They stood roughly eight feet tall and had the appearance of a huge, oval-shaped barrel with starfish -like appendages at both ends. The top appendage was a head adorned with five eyes, five eating tubes, and a set of cilia for "seeing" without light. The bottom appendage was five-limbed and was used for walking and other forms of locomotion.

The beings also had five leathery, fan-like retractable wings and five sets of branching tentacles that sprouted from their torsos.

Both their tentacles and the slits housing their folded wings were spaced at regular intervals about their bodies. Lovecraft described the Elder Things as vegetable-like or echinoderm-like in shape, having radial symmetry instead of the bilateral symmetry of bipeds.

They also differed in that they had a five-lobed brain. The Elder Things exhibited vegetable as well as animal characteristics, and in terms of reproduction, multiplied using spores, although they discouraged increasing their numbers except when colonizing new regions. Though they could make use of both organic and inorganic substances, the Elder Things were carnivorous by preference. They were also amphibious.

The bodies of the Elder Things were incredibly tough, capable of withstanding the pressures of the deepest ocean. Few died except by accident or violence. The beings were also capable of hibernating for vast epochs of time. Nonetheless, unlike many other beings of the Mythos, the Elder Things were made of normal, terrestrial matter.

The horror Third WatchMaster found while inspecting passenger compartments was on the manifest. He had been warned by Timmerbach that Glorious Spent carried two aliens who had boarded on the Atlantean Rim. It a Godspeaker looked like a group-grope involving giant hydras and starfish atop a heap of exposed intestines. It was some sort of colonial, symbiotic intelligence. It was a methane breather , which explained why it had not turned out for the passenger muster. What the hell excuse was there for letting something that hideous run loose?

What was Canon coming to? The Godspeakers had plenty of warning, though WarAvocat used Hellspinners liberally to burrow a channel so he could reach his objective more quickly. He sent a rider force ahead to strike at two incomplete habitats Seeker feared would flee before they could be destroyed. WarAvocat knew little about the biology of the methane breathers.

He did not care. They were the enemy. Their biology signified only when it could be used against them. Nowhere in space will we rest our eyes upon the familiar shapes of trees and plants, or any of the animals that share our world. Whatsoever life we meet will be as strange and alien as the nightmare creatures of the ocean abyss, or of the insect empire whose horrors are normally hidden from us by their microscopic scale.

The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, it was rounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered and panted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage gripped the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air. There was something fungoid in the oily brown skin, something in the clumsy deliberation of the tedious movements unspeakably nasty. Wells, The War of the Worlds Pretty disgusting, huh?

The classic tales of science fiction are full of Bug-Eyed Monsters or BEMs as they are affectionately termed by cognoscenti which invade planets, threaten towns. Hollywood producers apparently are convinced most extraterrestrial ET beings fall in one of four zoological categories: We inhabit a queer planet with many strange settings and fabulous living creatures, altogether an excellent example of what extraterrestrial life may be all about.

To a team of Interstellar Zoologists, researching sentient terrestrial mammals out here in the galactic boondocks, our world is as rare a planetary zoo as any in the Milky Way. Life as we know it is based on cells: Human body cells average a few microns in size.

One micron is a millionth of a meter, about a hundredth of the thickness of the page these words are printed on. Microbiologists estimate that the smallest cell that could, in theory, exist would measure about 0. It is amusing to speculate that the alien analogue to a human being, constructed in the same form but using these miniature cells, would weigh a mere 50 milligrams and stand only 5 millimeters tall — hardly the thickness of a pencil.

Fairly large extraterrestrial lifeforms might well exhibit acellular physiology, or be unicellular. For example, at one stage in their life history, slime molds are tiny one-celled flagellates capable of individual multiplication by simple fission. This egg measured about a third of a meter across and weighed 15 kilograms. The number and kinds of organs in alien creatures may also be highly variable. For example, earthly squids have two different kinds of hearts — one for venous and a separate one for arterial blood — and the common earthworm Pheretima has a dozen hearts.

Two extinct dinosaur species, Brontosaurus and Diplodocus , had two brains, one in the head and an even larger hunk of neural tissue in the hip region. Sometimes, organs combine several functions in one — such as the human mouth. ETs need not have the same combinations as we. They may have identical or separate organs for eating, drinking, excreting, breathing, and speaking. The dolphin, for instance. The cloacae of frogs and many other animals is a single organ which combines excretory and reproduction functions.

Birds and insects would suffer likewise, though with some compensation in the increased density of the air. On the other hand, if gravity were halved, we should get a lighter, slenderer, more active type, needing less energy, less heat, less heart, less lungs, less blood. Gravity not only controls the actions but also influences the forms of all save the least of organisms.

It is true that the maximum weight of living species cannot exceed the crushing strength of bony material. But animals are not designed to stand still — if they were, human legs could be a few millimeters thick.

Instead they must bear up under the peak pressures and accelerations encountered during normal running, jumping, and other strenuous survival activities. A horse at rest seems greatly overbuilt; on the racetrack where it may pull to a halt in a second or less, near the breaking point of its bones, the design limits are more fully exploited.

The largest land creature alive today is the African elephant, weighing an impressive kilograms. Tyrannosaurus rex , one of the largest land carnivores, was at least kg. The Baluchitherium , the largest extinct land mammal, was built like a hornless rhinoceros, and carried a bulk of more than 22, kg. The largest land animal ever may have been Brachiosaurus , of which some specimens may have weighed , kg. We may conservatively guess that the heaviest exclusively land-dwelling creature plausible on a 1-gee planet is around 22, kg.

How massive will alien animals be? Simulations of model solar systems by Dr. Dole of the RAND Corporation and others suggest that terrestrial rocky worlds with atmospheres suitable for life should have surface gravities between about 0. If maximum height is inversely proportional to gravity, then maximum volume hence mass goes inversely as gravity cubed. By this measure the heaviest animal on a 2-gee world is about kg, while on a 0.

So animals like walruses, small elephants, even 70 kg humanoids are quite possible even on the heaviest of all reasonable Earthlike worlds. Of course, gravity will affect design. In any given mass category high-gee animals should have shorter, stockier bones than those evolving in low-gee environments.

To provide proper support, bone cross-section must increase directly with weight. Weight is the product of mass and gravity, so bone diameter must be proportional to the square root of gravity. The typical human femur, the most perfectly cylindrical and largest single bone in our bodies, measures 3.

Using the above square-root relation, we find that the thigh-bone should increase to 4. Experiments have confirmed that animals reared in high gravity grow thicker bones, stronger hearts, and lose fat, but alien creatures will not appear wildly over- or underbuilt as compared with Earth life of equal mass. Boneless lifeforms in the sea can grow to enormous sizes.

There are other advantages to life without a rigid frame we can hardly appreciate. For instance, an octopus, often called the supreme escape artist, can stretch itself incredibly thin, passing rubberlike through small holes or narrow crevasses and sliding confidently across desktops and the decks of ships. But a creature of land is a denizen of gravity. Surface life must evolve some means of physical support or be reduced to a groveling mass on the ground.

On Earth the most common frameworks are the exoskeleton and the endoskeleton. The latter, which all vertebrates have, is a central spine from which vital organs hang like coats on a hat rack. Exoskeletons are bony material surrounding gut; endoskeletons are bone surrounded by gut.

Which design is better? Bioengineers point out that a tubular column always has greater strength than a solid beam of the same mass.

Tubes give twice the resistance to bending and many times the opposition to buckling. Mechanical advantages are best exploited by exoskeletons because of the greater bony surface area to which muscles may be attached.

So why be vertebrate? Large endoskeletons outperform exoskeletons under dynamic impact loading — like falling out of trees — which is why the largest of all animal species have worn their bones on the inside. Massive alien insectoids are not impossible, just less likely. The greatest carapaced creatures on Earth have ranged in size from a tenth of a meter for the South American tarantula on land up to several meters for certain fossil marine arthropods. ETs have other choices open to them. Another possibility is the double spine or multiple endoskeleton.

On Earth flatworms and other free-living turbellarians have twin neural channels running the length of their bodies. Animal bodies are kept stiff by pressurized fluid trapped in a sack of tough skin. Mostly only small earthworms and nematodes have this support, but massive sea creatures such as sharks compress their innards to help negotiate sharp turns and even man uses the contents of his abdomen as a hydrostatic skeleton. Large aliens might evolve a liquid skeleton inside taut, fiber-strengthened tubes with extensive reinforcing musculature — purely hydrostatic caterpillars, for example, have about individual muscles as compared to less than for a human being.

Nature often uses the same solution to a given problem encountered by many independently evolved species. Each have radically different developmental histories.

Naturally there are a few discrepancies — for example, light-sensitive cells in molluscan eyeballs point towards the light, the opposite of vertebrates.

But the adjustable lens. Nature is perhaps trying to tell us something: The next most successful — indeed more so if you just count species — is the compound eye of insects and crustaceans. Each organ looks like a small multifaceted jewel, actually a tiny bundle of optical tubes that direct light onto a large matrix of individual photosensitive spots on the retina.

The image forms a composite mosaic of thousands of little light-dots. Dragonfly eyes have more than 28, facets and can discern motion up to twelve meters away. The compound eye, however, has such poor resolving power that an insect poring over this page of print would be quite unable to make out the individual letters, so large ETs will find the system unattractive.

It seems best for smaller creatures — if a flea had a spherical lens eyeball like that of humans, the pupil would be so minute that diffraction effects would utterly ruin the image. Other visual techniques of limited importance on Earth may be emphasized on other planets.

How many eyes are best? Nature usually economizes, so a single receptor organ is good enough for nondirectional sensing. Most large organisms have but one organ of smell and one of taste. On the other hand, directional senses can make good use of the benefits of stereo. Triangulation and depth perception require at least two physically separated receptors, and there seems little to be gained by going to more than a single pair.

Nevertheless a few animal species do have more than one pair of imaging eyes. Berrill of McGill University in Montreal describes the dinnertime antics of the spider, which has four pairs of eyes: The other three pairs work together but in succession.

If something comes within the range of vision of one of the outermost pair, the head turns until the object is brought into the field of the two pairs of eyes in the middle, and the spider then advances. When the object is brought into focus of the forward pair, the spider jumps to attack. What about eyes on stalks?

Most xenobiologists regard this as a rather unlikely adaptation for thinking animals. Eyestalks require a hydraulic support system inefficient except in small animals. Eyes are vital senses for large organisms, yet stalks could be lopped off by predators with a single stroke of claw or pincer, permanently depriving the owner of sight.

Periscoping eyes unprotected by bone are also more prone to common injury — in an accident, stalks could be bumped, slammed or squashed all too easily. Vision , of course, is simply the detection of one narrow set of wavelengths of light within the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

The rattlesnake is quite good at this — the creature has two imaging eyeballs operating in the visible, and two conical pits on either side of the head which permit binocular IR sensing of temperature differences as little as 0.

The theory of optics predicts that alien infrared eyeballs with resolution close to that of the human eye could have apertures as small as 4 centimeters at 93, Angstroms the peak wavelength of black body radiation emitted by a warm human body. This compares well with the size of the eye of the Indian elephant 4. Radio vision is another possibility, although there are two major evolutionary problems with this.

First, it is difficult though not impossible to imagine planetary surface conditions in which the illumination in the radio band is equal to or greater than the brightness in the visible, thus giving radio vision the competitive edge.

Second, radio sensors would have to be on the order of meters wide to achieve human-eye acuity, though this resolution may not be absolutely necessary. Assuming life evolves primarily on planetary surfaces and under air, other forms of vision — very low frequency, ultraviolet, and x-ray — are unlikely because these wavelengths are strongly absorbed during the passage through atmosphere or ocean.

Static electric field sensing has been documented in numerous species, notably sharks and electric fishes, and sensitivity to magnetic fields has been found in snails, pigeons; dolphins, bees. The acoustical, tactile, and chemical spectra of sensation have also been well exploited by life on Earth.

One possible extraterrestrial sense often overlooked is the ability to detect radioactivity. On a world with highly concentrated radionuclide ores near the surface, or on a planet in the throes of a global nuclear holocaust, biological Geiger counters would give warning to steer clear of large tracts of radiation hazards.

When confronted with a pile of radioactive materials in one comer of their cages, each cat shied away. The key to alien senses is survival — any environmental information that would permit an animal to better compete for the limited resources available is a valid candidate for sensing.

For example, we could imagine a sophisticated meteorological sensorium evolving on a world cursed with highly volatile, perpetually inclement weather. Humidity and barometric sensors would be essential, as would anemometers to calibrate wind velocity. The ability to sense changes in atmospheric composition, such as the carbon dioxide detectors possessed by honeybees and fire ants, would be useful. Atmospheric turbidity, closely related to developing weather patterns, greatly influences the degree of skylight polarization — sensors responsive to the intensity and distribution of polarized light might permit their owner to seek shelter from the elements before disaster struck.

The seeming ability of many animals to sense an earthquake or tornado before it arrives may relate to their perception of very low frequency infrasonics or minute electrical field variations immediately preceding the event.

And the allegation that elephants can sense water located a meter or so beneath the surface of apparently dry riverbeds is unproven scientifically, yet the fact remains that such biological dowsers would be tar more likely to survive on a drought-stricken planet.

On strictly mechanical grounds, three points are needed geometrically to define a surface plane — two points make only a line. ETs trying to stand up on just one or two levers will promptly fall flat on their faces. We bipedal humans manage to remain erect only because our large feet provide additional points of contact with the ground, but without toes or feet a minimum of three legs is necessary.

Are tripedal aliens possible? Traditional biologists say no. A walking three-legger must lift at least one limb off the ground, at which instant it loses its planar support base, a situation statically unstable and dynamically precarious.

Four legs seem better from an engineering point of view, as the creature can remain balanced when a leg is in motion. Most running bipeds and quadrupeds keep two or fewer limbs on the ground during locomotion, so three-point dynamic stability is probably unnecessary. Land life need not always evolve from pair-finned fishes — descendants of, say, a starfish might be odd-leggers. Most persuasive, however, is the simple fact that tripeds exist on Earth! The extinct Tyrannosaurus rex and a few large contemporary creatures such as the kangaroo run bipedally but stand tripedally.

The tails of these animals are as strong and thick as the forelegs and are regularly used for postural support. Indeed, when kangaroos fight, they rear up on their tails, freeing both legs to deliver crushing kicks to opponents.

More legs than four are plausible even for massive, intelligent animals. Odd appendages are often used for highly specialized purposes, as witness the prehensile tail of monkeys and the dexterous trunk of elephants.

The key to higher multipedia is neural control. The nervous circuitry for an extra limb is far less than that required to add, say, another eye. Muscles need thousands of new neurons, but eyeballs need millions.

About one-third of the mammalian brain is committed to sensory functions, whereas only a small slice handles motor control, ETs are much more likely to have extra arms than extra eyes or ears.

Bonnie Dalzell, a writer-paleontologist who helped Larry Niven work out some of his fictional aliens, insists that vertebrates on Earth have four limbs solely because of the common descent from fishes adapted to free-swimming conditions in large open oceans.

These fish needed only two independent sets of diving planes to make a go of it in the sea. Perhaps if we evolved instead from Euthacanthus , a Devonian Period fish boasting no fewer than seven pairs of fins, we might be hexapodal or more-podal today ourselves.

Dalzell expects to find intelligent six-leggers on worlds with small, shallow oceans. There, bottom-dwelling fishes would become the predominant coastal and freshwater lifeforms early in evolutionary history. If the planet has a very seasonal climate, perhaps accompanied by large-scale periodic evaporations of lakes and seas, few fish species could evolve into good swimmers as on Earth.

Marine creatures with many pairs of fins would have the advantage, ultimately inheriting the land and producing a rich ecology of multipodal animal life. There are many advantages to six-legged living. On high-gravity worlds hexapedia is a good way to distribute mechanical stresses and help reduce the danger of bone breakage. Hexapods also have better balance since, unlike quadrupeds, they can keep a stable support tripod on the ground even when running at high speeds.

Of course, legs are not the only game in town. The potential of rotary motion to pick one possibility of many cries out for fulfillment. A few years ago biologists made the amazing discovery that the tails of tiny bacteria are driven by minute ionic motors complete with rotors, stators, bushings and freely-rotating drive shafts spinning up to 60 cycles per second.

The rapid back-and-forth wiggling of flagella we see under the microscope is actually a complicated helical twisting movement more akin to a propeller screw than to a simple fishy undulation. This finding contradicts the long-standing dictum that living organisms may not contain detached, self-rotating parts. Rotary motion may be possible for large animals too. Picture a small Earthlike world with little tectonic activity and broad, flat continental shelves flooded to a depth of five or ten meters during global warm spells.

A creature not unlike the molluscan cuttlefish Sepia hovers near the bottom, stalking small fish, shrimps, and crabs, sometimes jetting about by expelling water rapidly from several exit portals like many other cephalopods. Occasionally sand particles jam in a portal, causing irritation. The animal responds by encasing them in a perfectly smooth spherical pearl, much like those of the modem oyster.

Millions of years later an Ice Age arrives. The retreating shoreline leaves behind vast tracts of smooth hard continental shelf. Tentacle arms like ski poles provide additional stability on fast runs along the coastline. How big could flying ETs evolve? On Earth the albatross is pretty close to the maximum.

This 10 kilogram bird reaches wingspans up to four meters and needs a lengthy runway to achieve takeoff speed of 20 kph. Venusian pigeons could remain airborne at speeds ten times slower than their Earthly cousins, whereas Martian birds of similar size and shape would have to fly ten times faster to stay aloft. The main factor fixing avian size is atmospheric pressure, not gravity as some erroneously believe. On high-pressure worlds, alien bird creatures can have surprisingly small wings and large masses.

Planetary surface gravity has less effect on size in part because it varies far less than air density from world to world. For the same ease of flight a pigeon on a 2-gee planet with Earthlike air must increase total wing area by only 75 percent; on a bantam-weight 0. Gravity also influences stall speed. An albatross on a 2-gee planet needs a percent runway extension; on a 0. Massive extraterrestrial avians are more likely on puny planets with dense atmospheres. How many wings are best?

Most common among terrestrial species is a single pair which generate lift by actively beating the air something like the blades of a helicopter rotor. Adding yet more wings would serve no useful purpose, hence are unlikely to evolve. Only a very few insect species on Earth retain vestigial traces of an ancestral third wing pair, and these are degenerate and useless for flight. Alien air travelers may have no wings at all! There are many alternatives that have never been fully exploited by evolution on this planet.

Consider, for example, the principles of the rocket, the glider, and the balloon. Much like the toy plastic projectiles that shoot the length of a playing field when fully charged with water and compressed air, the rocket fish bolts from the sea skyward and mouthes its dinner on the fly.

Such an animal must have a sturdy posterior pressure canister that can be discharged rapidly through a rigid bony nozzle, rechargeable in minutes using powerful sphincter muscles, internal gas generation, or osmosis.

Earthly precedents include the jet propulsion of squids and octopuses, the pressurized chemical sprays of warrior termites, and the boiling liquid jet of the bombardier beetle. Vultures can sail for hours with little effort using strong mountain updrafts to gain altitude, but other worlds may be even better suited for this mode of flight. Further terrestrial precedent includes the aerial dispersal of spider young — spiderlings crawl to the tip of a blade of grass, raise their tiny abdomens and let fly a thin silken thread, then hop aboard as a gust of wind catches the gossamer strands and whisks them away into the sky.

The idea of balloonlike living organisms is an old one both in science and science fiction. These creatures supposedly inhabit a world with cold winters, heavy gravity and a thick atmosphere.

Twice a year the herbivorous hundred-kilogram blimps inflate their many lifting bags with metabolically generated hydrogen gas and drift to the opposite hemisphere to avoid the seasonal chill. Strong winds are an advantage, but predators are numerous and many noble aeronauts are lost during the migrations when a chance bolt of lightning strikes and ignites their flammable bodies.

On Earth the Portuguese man-of-war, the chambered nautilus, and swim bladders in fishes provide precedent for a balloon lifestyle in a fluid medium. Sail power has also been largely neglected in biology for animal locomotion. One of the few examples on this planet is Velella , a small, baggy, disk-shaped sea creature whose sail-like dorsal fin permits it to drift slowly with the wind. Another example is, surprisingly, the whale. More than forty years ago Olaf Stapledon speculated on the possibility of a true biological sailboat.

Let us imagine a cephalopod with a heavy concave shell living in the bays and estuaries of some alien world. Over the years the species gradually acquires the ability to float boatlike on the inverted shell as an aid in migration. These creatures drift with the shore currents, feeding on surface algae and nibbling the tops of seaweed stalks. In time the shell could become better adapted for navigation, perhaps with a streamlined undercarriage, allowing the ET to better chart its course between known patches of food and to escape its predators.

With further evolution the membrane becomes retractable, even delicately manipulatable by fine muscles. At last the emergence of a brain and sensory organs strictly comparable to those of higher mollusks on Earth makes possible a kind of living clipper ship complete with masthead forward sensors , jib, mainsail, riggings extensible tendon , and a rudder.

Every habitable planet has millions of living species and billions of extinct ones, and there are many trillions of useful planets in the universe. This adds up to an incredible diversity of life.

Perhaps, someday soon, we will make this epic journey. Berrill, Worlds Without End: Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker , Methuen, Penguin Books, Baltimore, Maryland, Before space flight it was often predicted that other planets would appeal strictly to the intellect. Even on Earthlike worlds, the course of biochemical evolution must be so different from the Terrestrial—since chance would determine which of many possible pathways was taken—that men could not live without special equipment.

And as for intelligent beings, were we not arrogant to imagine that they would be so akin to us psychologically and culturally that we would find any common ground with them?

The findings of the earliest extra-Solar expeditions seemed to confirm science in this abnegation of anthropomorphism. Today the popular impression has swung to the opposite pole. We realize the galaxy is full of planets which, however exotic in detail, are as hospitable to us as ever Earth was. And we have all met beings who, no matter how unhuman their appearance, talk and act like one of our stereotypes.

We do business, quarrel, explore, and seek amusement with them as we might with any of our own breed. So is there not something fundamental in the pattern of Terrestrial biology and in Technic civilization itself?

As usual, the truth lies somewhere between the extremes. The vast majority of planets are in fact lethal environments for man. But on this account we normally pass them by, and so they do not obtrude very much on our awareness.

Of those which possess free oxygen and liquid water, more than half are useless, or deadly, to us, for one reason or another.

Yet evolution is not a random process. Natural selection, operating within the constraints of physical law, gives it a certain direction. Furthermore, so huge is the galaxy that the random variations which do occur closely duplicate each other on millions of worlds. Thus we have no lack of New Earths. Likewise with the psychology of intelligent species. Most sophonts indeed possess basic instincts which diverge more or less from man's.

With those of radically alien motivations we have little contact. Those we encounter on a regular basis are necessarily those whose bent is akin to ours; and again, given billions of planets, this bent is sure to be found among millions of races.

Of course, we should not be misled by superficial resemblances. The nonhuman remains nonhuman. He can only show us those facets of himself which we can understand. Thus he often seems to be a two-dimensional, even comic personality. But remember, we have the corresponding effect on him. It is just as well that the average human does not know on how many planets he is the standard subject of the bawdy joke. Even so, most races have at least as much contrast between individuals—not to mention cultures—as Homo Sapiens does.

Hence there is a degree of overlap. Often a man gets along better with some nonhuman being than he does with many of his fellowmen. Sure, he belches H 2 S and sleeps in a mud wallow, and his idea of fun is to spend six straight hours discussin' the whichness of the wherefore.

But I can trust him—hell, I'd even leave him alone with my wife! If life on Mars exists at all the probability of which is small, but not zero it probably resembles only the simplest and most primitive terrestrial plant life. Still, even granted that the likelihood of complex life is virtually nonexistent; we can still play games and let our fancy roam.

If the Martian is a boned creature, those bones can be considerably slenderer than ours and still support a similar mass of material an inevitable mechanical consequence of decreased weight. Therefore, even if the torso itself were of human bulk, the legs and arms of the Martian would seem grotesquely thin to us.

Since things are less top-heavy in a low-gravity world, the Martian would probably be taller than earth people. The Martian backbone need not be so rigid as ours and might have two or three elbowlike joints, making stooping from his possible eight-foot height more convenient.

The Martian surface has been revealed by the Mars-probe, Mariner IV, to be heavily pockmarked with craters, but the irregularities they introduce are probably not marked to a creature on the surface. Between and Within the craters, much of the surface is probably sandy desert. Yellow clouds obscuring the surface are occasionally detected and, in the s, the astronomer E. Antoniadi interpreted these as dust storms.

That type of foot, plus the weak gravity, would keep him from sinking into the sand. No earthly species has any such arrangement, but it is not an impossible one.

The Martian day and night are about as long as our own, but Mars is half again as far from the sun as we are, and it lacks oceans and a thick atmosphere to serve as heat reservoirs. The Martian would require an insulating coating.

Such insulation might be possible with a double skin; the outer one, tough. At night the air space would be full and the Martian would appear balloonlike: The trapped air would serve as an insulator, protecting the warmth of the body proper. The Martian atmosphere, according to Mariner IV data, is extremely thin, perhaps a hundredth the density of our own and consisting almost entirely of carbon dioxide. What oxygen he requires for building his tissue structure must be obtained from the food he eats.

It will take energy to obtain that oxygen, and the energy supply for this and other purposes may come directly from the sun. We can picture each Martian equipped with a capelike extension of tissue attached, perhaps to the backbone. Ordinarily, this would be folded close to the body and so would be inconspicuous. During the day, however, the Martian may spend some hours in sunlight clouds are infrequent in the thin, dry Martian air with his cape fully expanded, and resembling a pair of thin, membranous wings reaching several feet to either side.

Its rich supply of blood vessels will be exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and these will be absorbed through the thin, translucent skin. The energy so gained can then be used during the night to enable the necessary chemical reactions to proceed in his body. Although the sun is at a great distance from Mars, the Martian atmosphere is too thin to absorb much of its ultraviolet, so that the Martian will receive more of these rays than we do.

His eyes will be adapted to this, and his chief pair, centered in his face, will be small and slitlike to prevent too much radiation from entering. We can guess at two eyes in front, as in the human being, since two are necessary for stereoscopic vision—a very handy thing to have for estimating distance. It is very likely that the Martian will also be adapted to underground existence, for conditions are much more equable underground.

One might expect therefore that the Martian would also have two large eyes set on either side of his head, for seeing by feeble illumination. These eyes might even be sensitive to the infrared so that Martians can see each other by the heat they radiate. These dim-vision eyes would be enormous enough to make the Martian face wider than it is long.

In daytime, of course, they would be tightly closed behind tough-skinned lids and would appear as rounded bulges.

Exposed portions of the body, such as the arms, legs, ears, and even portions of the face which are not protected by the outer skin and the airtrap within, could be feathered for warmth in the night. The earthly horse has teeth with elaborate grinding surfaces to handle coarse, gritty grass, but the Martian would have to carry this to a further extreme.

The Martian mouth, therefore, might contain siliceous plates behind a rounded opening which could expand and contract like a diaphragm of a camera.

Those plates would work almost like a ball mill, grinding up the tough plants. Water is the great need. The entire eater supply on Mars is equal only to that contained in Lake Erie, according to an estimate cited by astronomer Robert S. Consequently, the Martian would hoard the water he consumes, never eliminating it as perspiration or wastes, for instance.

Wastes would appear in absolutely dry form and would be delivered perhaps in the consistency, even something of the chemical makeup, of earthly bricks. The Martian blood would not be used to carry oxygen, and would contain no oxygen-absorbing compound, a type of substance which in earthly creatures is almost invariably strongly colored. Martian blood, therefore, would be colorless. Thus the Martian skin, adapted to ultraviolet and absorbing it as an energy source, would not have to contain pigment to ward it off.

The Martian therefore would be creamy in color. This would cause our Martian to seem to be when he was busily absorbing energy from solar radiation a dazzling white creature with golden wings and occasional feathers.

I am talking about life-forms you can find in any handbook of zoology, as opposed to those fearsome beings of the Cthulhu Cycle which which we are now so familiar. Well, there are also creatures which exist in the most obscure and random corridors and corners of time, in lost and unthinkable abysses of space, and in certain other twilight places which are most easily explained by referring to them as junctions of forces neither temporal nor spacial, places which by all rights should only exist in the wildest imaginings of theoreticians and mathematicians Suffice to say, then that there are extreme forms of life within and without this universe of ours.

And I know it to be so for I have seen or learned of many such forms. There are wraithlike biological gasses which issue at the dark of their moon from the fissures of a fungoid world in Hydra, to dance away their brief lives until, exhausted, they die at dawn, scattering the sentient seeds of mushroom minds which will sprout and take root, and whose crevice-deep roots will in turn emit at the dark of the moon euphoric, spore-bearing mists of genesis.

There is a dying purple sun on Andromeda's rim whose rays support life on all seven of its planets. On the fourth planet there are exactly seventeen forms of life, or so it would appear. On closer inspection, however, a zoologist could tell you that these forms are all different phases of only one life-form! Consider the batrachian and lepidopterous cycles of Earth life and this might not seem too astonishing, until I tell you that of these seventeen phases two are as apparently inanimate mineral deposits, six are aquatic, two others amphibious, three land-dwelling cannibals, three more are aerial and the last is to all intents and purposes a plant while all of its preliminary stages excluding the mineral phases were animal The starcraft gathered the fabric of time and space.

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Medical Hypotheses Sep;49 3: Dietary treatment of gluten neuropathy. Reliance on serum endomysial antibody testing underestimates the true prevalence of coeliac disease by one fifth. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology Feb;35 2: Hat tip to Denise Minger: Opioid peptides derived from food proteins: The Journal of Biological Chemistry Apr 10; 7: Huebner FR et al.

Demonstration of high opioid-like activity in isolated peptides from wheat gluten hydrolysates. Peptides Nov—Dec;5 6: Fukudome S, Yoshikawa M. Opioid peptides derived from wheat gluten: Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Feb; 2: Science Jan 30; Biological Psychiatry Mar;19 3: Diet gluten and schizophrenia. Journal of Human Nutrition Apr;34 2: Opioid growth factor-opioid growth factor receptor axis is a physiological determinant of cell proliferation in diverse human cancers.

Gluten exorphin B5 stimulates prolactin secretion through opioid receptors located outside the blood-brain barrier. Life Sciences Feb 25;76 Opioid receptor ligands derived from food proteins. Current Pharmaceutical Design ;9 Effects of wheat germ agglutinin on human gastrointestinal epithelium: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology Jun 1; 2: In vivo responses of rat intestinal epithelium to intraluminal dietary lectins.

Gastroenterology May;82 5 Pt 1: Morphological changes of rat small intestine after short-time exposure to concanavalin A or wheat germ agglutinin. Cell Structure and Function Sep;11 3: Wheat germ agglutinin binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor of artificial Caco-2 membranes as detected by silver nanoparticle enhanced fluorescence.

Pharmacological Research May;20 5: Pusztai A et al. Antinutritive effects of wheat-germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine-specific lectins. British Journal of Nutrition Jul;70 1: Specific uptake of dietary lectins into the systemic circulation of rats. Biochemical Society Transactions ;17, — Agrarian diet and diseases of affluence—do evolutionary novel dietary lectins cause leptin resistance?

Insulin-like activity of concanavalin a and wheat germ agglutinin—direct interactions with insulin receptors. The identification of plant lectins with mucosal adjuvant activity. Immunology Jan; 1: Glycoconjugate Journal Dec;24 9: Regulation of gelatinase B MMP—9 in leukocytes by plant lectins.

Do dietary lectins cause disease? BMJ Apr 17; March 15 An experimental investigation on rickets. The Lancet Reprinted in Nutrition Mar—Apr;5 2: Bedouin osteomalacia due to calcium deprivation caused by high phytic acid content of unleavened bread. Thacher TD et al. Case-control study of factors associated with nutritional rickets in Nigerian children. Journal of Pediatrics Sep; 3: The role of cereals in the aetiology of nutritional rickets: British Journal of Nutrition Jan;45 1: Research on the probable cause of an outbreak of field rickets in turkeys.

Poultry Science Dec;78 Celiac disease in India. Indian Journal of Pediatrics ;66 1 suppl: See also Rawashdeh MO et al.

Celiac disease in Arabs. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nov;23 4: Potential complications in the use of wheat bran for constipation in infancy. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition ;1 1: Harinarayan, CV et al.

High prevalence of low dietary calcium, high phytate consumption, and vitamin D deficiency in healthy south Indians. Reduced plasma half-life of radio-labelled hydroxyvitamin D3 in subjects receiving a high-fibre diet.

British Journal of Nutrition Mar;49 2: Importin 4 is responsible for ligand-independent nuclear translocation of vitamin D receptor. The Journal of Biological Chemistry Dec 9; Using a cDNA microarray to study cellular gene expression altered by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Chinese Medical Journal Jul; 7: Activation of human monocytes by live Borrelia burgdorferi generates TLR2-dependent and -independent responses which include induction of IFN-beta.

PLoS Pathogens May;5 5: Expression profile of nuclear receptors upon Epstein-Barr virus induced B cell transformation. Experimental Oncology Jun;31 2: Breakfast staple types affect brain gray matter volume and cognitive function in healthy children. PLoS One Dec 8;5 Hat tip to Emily Deans: Nutrition Feb;26 2: Chapter 30 Historical aspects of the major neurological vitamin deficiency disorders: Handbook of Clinical Neurology ; A reexamination of the composition of diets associated with pellagra.

Nutraceuticals 2019