Prev: RE: DSII: APSW Next: SV: Bio-Forces

Re: Bio-Forces

From: Brian Burger <burger00@c...>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 14:40:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Bio-Forces

On Tue, 4 Nov 1997 wrote:

Status: RO

> >>I also thought of soldiers with bio-powered versions of the normal
> weapons. Again, this seemed to streach reality beyond the breaking
> (how much food do you need to eat to produce a 100 megawat energy
beam? How
> far can you throw your quills?).<<
> Actually having a ranged weapon is not that difficult--just
extrapolate from
> living Earth forms. Most of these would be chemically based, like the
> sulfuric acid from a bombardier beetle (DFFG?), or exploding seed pods
> several plants (possibly containing acids, for RAM Mortars). 
> These sentient creatures would probably use modified electrical
> organs, such as those found in torpedo rays. Each set of "batteries"
> deliver several sets of shocks over 3-4 meters in water (and 2-3 feet
in dry
> air), and this is from a fish slightly larger than your hand. Build
this up
> to something the size of a human and apply sentient biotechnological
> engineering and you have some sort of electrostatic zapper. You could
> modify this for a biological rail-gun--and then you have MDC
> with ammo consisting of secreted crystals or other charged, non-living
> material, perhaps silicate pods filled with volatile organic solvents
> (alcohols or ethers that explode on impact) or corrosive acids. The
size of
> the projector should be based on the size of the creature.
> Then you have sound, which can be engineered for certain materials.
> don't try it in an atmosphere--no atmosphere to conduct sound. Of
course, in
> denser atmospheres, these devices could be terribly effective.
> These creatures don't have to be all animal, either; plants use
> to harness light energy to excite ("charge up") electrons. A sentient
> devoted to extreme biotechnology could use this as an energy
harvesting organ
> to power the biorailguns, or absorb laser fire and the like.
> A lot more would be close quarters, though, for what we've seen in
films. I'd
> believe that the biorailguns (direct fire MDCs, railgun artillery)
> represent one form of ranged weapon, the electrostatic discharger
> represent another (though short-ranged). I discount "laser" types of
> bioelectrical weapons, though, rightly due to the energy requirements.
> of the other stuff is probably short-ranged, including DFFG-like
> projectors. And, of course, these things would be brutal in close
> My two scents, from a biologist's viewpoint.
> Charles
Sounds interesting except for one thing: Haven't you forgotten the
of relative scale? Eg if you made an elephant-sized mouse, it'd collapse
because it's legs would be too skinny to hold it up...that's why
elephants/brontosaur etc have such thick legs in proportion to body size
vs. a mouse's body/leg ratio.

To drag this kicking and screaming back on topic: the scaling problem is
one that bugs me about giant alien bugs/bio-freak animals...especially
bugs. A house-sized ant would break it's own legs when it fell on them,
all but the lightest gravity...but no-one wants to look at an 'ant' with
elephant-like proportions, so mini- and movie-makers ignore the
problem...see the teasers/ads for the new Starship Troopers movie...

The same problem would apply, as far as I know, to giant acid
spitters/electric eels etc. Their power supplies would swiftly get
ridiculiously unwieldy and huge, along with the muscles to move it,
to protect it, etc etc etc (Have to ask a biologist friend of mine about
this, but I'm sure about the size problem.)

Our SV biotechnicians would have to be either so advanced it wouldn't be
funny (or gameable) or magicians - and do we really want to see a
recreation of Evil Empire's Tyranids? 
Not to totally trash the idea of the SV (I think they're a cool idea)
some realistic insectoid aliens would be a nice change...mostly
close-combat troops (but VERY, VERY mean CC troops) with rarer, quite
large ranged-weapon units...spaceships aren't a problem, they're huge
anyway and not constrained by gravity in the same way as land energy is more easily available in space than on
land...photosynthesising spaceships, anyone? (or similar...)

(regarding the new Starship Troopers movie mentioned above, does it
anyone else more of a DS2 game than Heinlein's book? the book only had
troopers, landing craft and a few hover-truck/jeep things, but the movie
is more of a combined-arms thing - infantry in APCs or assault shuttles,
fighter craft, and I think I saw a tank in yesterday's tv get
totally off-topic for this thread...)

My $0.02,

Brian. (

Prev: RE: DSII: APSW Next: SV: Bio-Forces