19:19 22-02-2013
Warren Fahy
Hi there! At last, PANDEMONIUM, the sequel to FRAGMENT is coming out in hardback in 25 days from Tor Books. I think you guys will enjoy it. It takes place about 3 months after FRAGMENT ends... If you haven't read FRAGMENT ( you can get it before PANDEMONIUM breaks loose on March 19... ( Best regards, Warren
19:20 17-02-2013
Hello João,

That is a request I never received before. I am uncertain. Which one were you thinking about?
22:41 12-02-2013
João Paulo Martins
Hi, can i use one of your drawings for a banner to my blog about speculative biology?
22:19 05-02-2013
William Stephens
The plot of my second book is based on the idea that a virus/fungi evolved/was created on Mars billions of years ago, and by the process I have described creates a planet-wide extinction. Perhaps it were tampered with so that it targeted all life forms and acted like a von-neumann - self-replicating, using the corpses of the dead to convert into spores. But eventually it would wipe itself out, as it could no longer reproduce. But say some spores were trapped in ice, maybe in the south polar ice cap of Mars. Therefore when humans began colonisation they would find no signs of life ever having existed on the planet, but could be wiped out themselves were the virus/fungi released (maybe by terraforming, and melting the ice).
This could be a new form of life, a cross between virus and fungus. What are your thoughts? I appreciate your help very much, thank you all!
12:41 05-02-2013

If you are looking for a planet-wide effect, radiation seems the most likely option: a supernova in the vicinity?

As for viruses, they function in real life by taking over the machinery of a cell and thereby withholding the normal expression of DNA. If they do so too well, it means no more host and hence no more viruses. Most infectious diseases tend to evolve towards the infectious agent not killing the host. I cannot see a virus evolving naturally that is capable of attacking all organisms. As for unnatural evolution, who knows? But why would you want to sterilise an entire planet? An enemy capable of such feats would probably be able to create something that only takes out the species they wish to delete...
18:46 02-02-2013
William Stephens
How plauable is the Descolada? Could something like that evolve naturally?

This seems to be the most detailed depiction of the fictional virus:
19:24 26-01-2013
@William Stephens UV radiation or radioactivity
16:58 26-01-2013
Evan Black
The descolada from Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead did a pretty good job of accomplishing what you're describing, William.
22:09 25-01-2013
William Stephens
Back! I'm sorry if my random questions bother you because they have no relevance to what you're discussing at the time, I just need expert opinions sometimes :/

My latest is this: what could destroy DNA? Not just damage or mutate, but literally tear apart, unzip, obliterate. I'm thinking of a planet-wide extinction caused by SOMETHING which does exactly this. Something plausable. Thank you!
01:53 24-01-2013
@SN - thank you for the further reaearch to wrap this idea up. it was very interesting indeed. you are right that the custom doesn't go further than the number four, but then again, maybe if we had vertebrate hexapods on earth, the custom would extend to the number six and so on... We simply may not be fortunate to have many-legged animals as dominant fauna. =) what a bummmer, considering I could really use an exrea pair of hands sometimes... XD
17:54 23-01-2013
William: I do not know whether self-governed mechanical evolution is more interesting than self-governed biological evolution. Both are -almost- within t=human capability. They are as fascinating as they are frightening.

Pete: after checking the 'International Code of Zoological nomenclature' I learned that the answer is not there. Fine; but there are a great number of -poda there, all so named for morphological reasons, rather like -gnatha etc. Wikipedia hads an entry that underscores your point: The Shorter Oxfod English dictionary does not distinguish gait, but simply state 'having four feet' for both.
The Wikipedia article does not elevate the idea to that of a principle for other number of legs than four.

But it seems a good idea to do so, and I think I will follow the custom from now on. Luckily, there are not many ways for a monopod (anatomical designation) to walk in any other than a uniped (gait-designation) manner. Unless you think there is such a thing as a 'nullaped' gait, of course.
02:51 23-01-2013
@SN - Thank you. I would like to learn more about this myself, but it seems pretty universal so far, cephalopoda, copepoda, arthropoda, gastropoda (here it clearly doesn't have any connection to gaitat all ) then theropoda... all seems to be refering to anatomy and it's in greek =) maybe there isn't any actual... I don't know what you call it, but "deal" sounds horrible... but it is just an emergent property of a tendency of scientists to use certain words when naming. =)
23:13 22-01-2013
William Stephens
Damn. That is disappointing.
But what about the concept of mechanical evolution as a whole? I think it might be post-worthy; the possibilities are almost infinite.
By the way the film looks awesome.
Just saying.
22:22 22-01-2013
Pete: Aha. I agree that the 'decapoda' are named for their anatomy rather than their walking pattern. But as regards 'tetrapods', you could argue that the name applies to the entire group, and that the occasional departure from the norm is simply ignored.
I am not quite convinced that your suggestion is a universally accepted one, but I would like it to be; it certainly is an elegant solution.
23:13 20-01-2013
@SN It comes from my observation only, for example you have "decapoda" crustaceans who walk on eight legs only, so they got their name based on their anatomy, not gait, and we are tetrapods who walk on two legs only. we are tetrapods (greek) but we are bipeds (latin) (not "dipods" I think this is how it is agreed upon I think, dogs are tetrpods when refering to anatomy and quadrupeds when refering to gait. =) But it really is based on my personal observation, so it may be coincidence, but that's how I understand it.
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