Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ionian Philosophy

watch this space (ha! as if anyone is doing so!)

On Ionian Paranoia (from a Human Perspective)

Humans have found Ionians incredibly frustrating and baffling, over the long history of their connections to them. This frustration has to be balanced against the fact that, however mercurial, bizarre, uncommunicative, condescending, or otherwise annoying the reality of Ionians may be, the human population of the Daughter Worlds and other habitats in Human Space owe their very existence to their altruism and technology. It was Ionians who saw fit to rescue some human beings who (at least, so the story went) were in imminent danger of extinction. This was during the tail end of the Wisconsin glaciation on Old Earth, at the time of the original discovery by Ionians of the Solar System Link to Ionian Space and consequently of Earth itself.

Ionians of that era provided the means (including transportation) to inhabit a new world, Zubos, a remarkably Earthlike world which they set aside specifically for these humans. Zubos was partially terraformed (having already been relatively habitable), and various geoengineering tweaks have been undertaken over the time of its habitation. In fact, Ionians seem to pay attention to their charges, and have frequently offered help just in time when systems were failing, politics had made a particular world or habitat ungovernable, or other serious problems threatened catastrophe. They didn’t interfere, exactly, but just made available some out or fix that defused the situation. It was disconcerting, in a way, and humiliating, more than once, but people just came to think of it as part of the way things are.

The Ionians originally shared some basic science and technology with the primitive humans, and made some of the infrastructure of their vast civilization available. Within a millennium after the First Contact, there were several human worlds, and humans had access to spacefaring technology. But these things were consciously doled out. There was never general access or acceptance of humanity as belonging to the Ionian supercivilization in any meaningful way.

Ionians kept the locations of links to their own home systems secret, and did not share with humans the techniques of locating and prospecting for spatial links. Even after millennia, this technology and even the basic science behind it proved elusive. Nor did the Ionians share with humans much information about themselves or their history, or any of the other civilizations they had encountered. They were very careful not to share technology that could be transformed into weapons, and when they did communicate directly and straightforwardly with human leaders and scientists (which was infrequently), as often as not it was to warn them to stay away from any destructive or weapons technologies, which, they made clear, would simply not be tolerated. But, apart from this, they were benign zookeepers, whose motto seemed to be Live and let live, mostly separate from us, thank you very much. In fact, only one of the Human Worlds had any permanent Ionian population, that being Koros (also called Corrace), which was the location of the Ionian Institute of Earth and which had a population of very eccentric Ionian pure-biologicals who apparently thought it acceptable to share a world with humans of Earth (not something which the vast bulk of Ionians would consider as even sane). All of this was the case, even though to a close approximation Ionians and humans are biologically similar enough that the worlds they would choose to inhabit would tend to be the same worlds, and their artificial habitats would have roughly the same internal conditions of gravity, pressure, temperature, air mixture, etc. 

The general belief among humans came to be that Ionians are just naturally paranoid. They will not take any chances with upstart races. They aren't hostile, but they don't let them in; they keep them at long-arms' length and carefully control not only contact, but technology and information transfer as well. The principle of both of these being: only that which benefits the Great and Glorious Totality of Ionus will be allowed. The secondary goal of benefiting the aliens (i.e., us) is not ignored, but it is subservient. And nothing not actively useful to them, or at least harmless to them, and important to the well-being of their client (again, that being us), is allowed to pass between them and us. So, millennia after Contact, humans still know relatively little about them, and have surprisingly little actual direct contact with them and their technology. 

As a result, although the broad outlines were known, of how Human Space and its worlds and habitats came to be, and how they were dependent on and connected to the ancient and almost unimaginably powerful civilization of the Ionians, the sweep and grandeur of Ionian history, the scope and geography of the Connected Space known to them, and the bulk of their scientific knowledge, are and always have been  mostly a matter of conjecture and mystery. 

Yet, whatever the frustrations and alienation people have felt over the long years of co-existence with Ionians in their various forms and apparitions, there has never been anything like enmity: Ionians have not actually harmed humans in any verifiable incident, ever. They just haven't been forthcoming. This is frustrating to human beings, but it is also generally understood that, however baffling and annoying they may be, they are, ultimately, benign. This is presumptively a hard-wired feature of their civilization by now; there do not appear to be any exceptions, or even any near-exceptions. Ionians have from time to time rescued humans from accidents (although not reliably: it would seem that their surveillance of human activity is at most sporadic). They have, again, from time to time and somewhat unpredictably, provided needed technologies when systems failed; offered new links to new worlds (at odd and unpredictable times, however). Occasionally in history, this particular move has defused tensions that appeared to be on the verge of leading to human/human conflict.  It could even be said that they have, invariably, been humanity's benefactors, if not always in quite the ways that the humans involved would prefer.

Given the penchant of humans on Earth to make gods of what they don't understand, it might be expected that at various points along the way of the relations between Ionians and humans there might have arisen cults or even full blown institutions of worship or supplication to these mysterious, seemingly invariably beneficent, if distant and uncommunicative, beings. But this, too, the Ionians have managed to quash: one thing they have let be generally known, in no uncertain terms, is that they are not essentially different from us. They are living beings, or the augmented descendants of living beings. They are, indeed, more advanced, both technologically and even in their intrinsic, artificially enhanced, biological nature, but originally they evolved naturally on a world not unlike Earth (somewhere, and they aren't saying where), and they believe that life in the various forms in which it has arisen is intrinsically valuable. (And that intelligent life, which they know to be exceedingly rare, is truly precious and worthy of preservation even at great cost). They have a civilization-wide value of biophilia, which they will discuss, at least to some extent, and they have managed to inculcate something of this philosophy in virtually all of the diverse cultures that make up the humans of Human Space (not including Old Earth). 

An Earlier Alien Link to the Solar System, and the circumstantial evidence of the Ionian discovery thereof

The exact location of the Spatial Link between Earth's Solar System and Ionian Space is a closely guarded secret, which plays a role in the story of the Recontact, to be discussed elsewhere.

During the course of the approximately 16,000 years of human culture within Ionian Space, however, it gradually became clear to human scientists that the Ionians had contact with Old Earth that exceeded a single visit in the relatively recent past. This inference derived from evidence that there had been some surveillance and continuous contact with the original home world of the human species in the millennia that followed the original contact. This too, is an essential element of the story of the Recontact, and the details of the unfolding of this mystery are told elsewhere.

Although prior to the period of the Recontact, humans knew very little of Old Earth, and therefore had no basis to suspect the fact, it was eventually realized, post-Recontact, that there must have also been at least one other link in Solar System Space that connected to a location from which contact had been made with Earth in a much more remote past time than the initial Ionian contact. The evidence consisted mainly of the fact that there were species of prehistoric plants and animals on Zubos and other human worlds and habitatats of Ionian Space which certainly did not exist on Earth 16,000 years ago (along with many that did, but which had since become extinct on Earth). The assumption was that there had been at least one other alien visit to Earth, long before the Ionians discovered Earth, or even had become a spacefaring civilization on their own. 

It was generally understood, even before the Recontact, and despite the fact that the Ionians did not share this kind of information, that the Ionians were in contact with, or aware of, truly ancient alien civilizations with which they had come into contact or discovered as extinct civilizations while exploring Connected Space. An intriguing mystery presented itself from the evidence that one of these extremely ancient civilizations must have been discovered by means of the Link with the original home of humanity, Old Earth. Again, the evidence was purely circumstantial, but no other explanation presented itself. The assumption was that the civilization itself was either extinct or otherwise no longer in contact with Solar System space.

The actual evidence consisted of living small dinosaurs which had become extinct on earth over 65 million years earlier, but which continued to thrive on one or more of the human habitations and planets. There were also plants descended from cycads and ginkgos, as well as giant club mosses, extinct varieties of fishes and arthropods, ammonites, extinct mammalian and reptilian orders, and numerous other forms of life, which were either no longer extant on Earth long before the Ionian contact, or which belonged to branches of life forms that still survived, but which were, in the specific forms found, no longer present on Earth itself, nor had been for ages past. The assumption was that some other aliens had taken an interest in Earth much, much earlier, probably around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs, and that these aliens had transported these life forms to one or more other worlds, reachable via sequential link from the Solar System. Further, it was inferrable that the Ionians had at some point visited this other world or worlds, and transported some of these life forms, not back to their original home, Old Earth, but to some of the human worlds of Ionian space.  

The inference that Earth was the connection between these ancient preserved life forms and modern Ionian Space was the only reasonable conclusion. The Ionian reticence to discuss the details of their discoveries and the extent of their "empire" in Connected Space, which approached and even transcended outright paranoia, left the human scientists who pondered these questions to conjecture, infer, and deduce what facts they could, without the confirmation or additional details that undoubtedly were well within the power of the Ionians to grant. From a human point of view, their invariable refusal to do so, or even to communicate on the subject at all, was beyond frustrating, but it had been a fact of life for so long that it just had to be accepted. It was, in fact, scientific investigators from Earth itself who found this entire subject so compelling that they sought to push for disclosure from the Ionians, but cooler and more experienced heads at places like the Institute for Urbonian Biology at Zortzipak, realized that this was a fool's errand: the Ionians would divulge nothing. If there was more to be learned of the "Old Ones," as they came to be known, who must have visited Earth tens of millions of years ago, it would have to be the result of human re-discovery, via the Solar System Link that must exist or have existed, if that were even possible. But where was it? How could it be found? All these things remained unknowns. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Zubos and the Eight Daughter Worlds

1.       Zubos, whose name means “Second World,” is the original Ionian-modified habitable world prepared for humans, dating to the original transportation of a human population from Earth, approximately 16,750 years ago. It orbits a G4V dwarf star of high metal content and an age of about 4 billion years, in a smallish spiral galaxy at great remove from the Milky Way. Zubos is the second planet. It has two medium-small moons, which are each close enough to appear about half the size in the sky as Earth’s moon, and to create tidal circulation of the planet’s single large ocean. Zubos’ continental cratons are scattered and relatively small; the largest continent is a bit larger than South America, and the total continental area is >20%. The biggest continent has very high mountains on its western flank, but the others are all older craton fragments without major cordilleras, although one or two of them have significant plateau areas. The planet has a mildly elliptical orbit, which results in slight seasonal variation. The continents are all located within ±60° of the equator, so the climates tend to be mild. The planet's position is squarely in the center of the ideal habitable zone for terrestrial type climate in Zubos' star system. Zubos has semi-arid regions in bands north and south of the equator, but a significant fraction of the land is well placed for moist, temperate forested life zones. The actual tropical areas are only about  one quarter of the total land area, and are sparsely inhabited. Rain forests predominate near the equator. The planet had primitive native life before modification, some of which persists, but it is only microbial and prokaryotic; since it uses a form of xNA different from the genetic system of Terrestroid and Ionianoid life, it has little interaction with them. Most of the biota of the planet are transplanted from Urbos, i.e., Earth. Zubos currently has a population of about 700 million people.
2.       The Eight Daughter Worlds[1] were all settled a considerable time later than Zubos, although the newest, Amdala, was first opened to settlement over 2000 years ago. No new human settled worlds have been introduced since that time and none are in the works.
            Two of the eight, Erastia and Colarus, are actually Earth-sized moons of small inner-system Neptunelike planets orbiting their respective sunlike stars. Another two, Pirobos and Tularit, are the second and third worlds, respectively, of the same F0V star, and are thus each planetary elements of a single two-planet system government.
Korbos orbits a close ("spectroscopic") binary pair of sunlike stars, and has a more than usually eccentric orbit, resulting in distinctly pronounced seasons. The planet Corrace, which was settled about 2400 years ago, is the only one of the planets to have a significant Ionian population. It has about 50 million humans, and one million Ionians. Mostly the two species inhabit separate regions of Corrace, and keep to themselves, but there is more interaction between the species of an ordinary interpersonal and even quasi-commercial nature there than anywhere else. All of the sister worlds have their own unique circumstances which resulted in their original discovery, settlement, and, to varying degrees, terraforming (in all cases with some degree of Ionian assistance), and each today has its own unique human culture and dialects of the dominant world language of Zubos, Maric, which is the ancestor of all of the languages spoken on all eight of the Daughter Worlds. The dialects range from mutually comprehensible with Maric to so far afield as the barely mutually comprehensible without continual translation. The total population of all eight of the Daughter Worlds is approximately 25 billion.

[1]   = Kalidara, Erastia, Colarus, Tularit & Pirobos, Korbos, Corrace, and Amdala. All, like the “second world” Zubos  (second, after the now almost mythical Urbos  (“Original World”), i.e., Earth) are roughly earth-size and orbit roughly sunlike stars of middle age. All, except Erastia and Pirobos, have been modified, to at least a slight degree, to be optimally human habitable. Erastia and Korbos are the most naturally earthlike, each with indigenous complex life to which human beings have had to adapt. (The interest and desire to do this was a main impetus to their colonization in the first place). All the others had only simple single-celled life prior to settlement, and are essentially reformed terrestroid biospheres, except for Corrace, which actually has a hybrid Terrestroid /Ionianoid  biosphere, with enough terrestrial plants, in particular, to ensure a functional agricultural economy for its human population. It is believed to be the only location in the universe where Ionian life and Earthbased life freely intermix and share a single biosphere.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where is Zubos?

In many ways, this is an almost entirely meaningless question. The connecting interspatial link between Connected Space and the Solar System was lost millennia ago... or at least was not known to human beings, so even the number and sequence of "links" necessary to travel from Earth, known to Zubonians as "Urbos" or "Yibos," and a more or less legendary place to them, was not known prior to the Recontact.

Even after the Recontact, when the specific sequence and mapping of links between Zubos and the solar system was restored to human knowledge, the normal space distance and direction of one with respect to the other is not ascertainable or meaningful. From statistical analysis of large-structures visible at the extremes of observable space from various locations within Connected Space, it is known that the likely normal space distance between Earth and Zubos, assuming that their normal space separation is typical of any other two places in Connected Space, is probably in the tens of billions of light years, but beyond that little can be said.

Transpatial or Interspatial Links

A Description of Interspatial Links
[Updated 12/26/2012] 

Over 200,000 years ago, Ionian scientific experts proved that the structure of the universe was, as had long been suspected, extremely intricately interfolded into multiple additional dimensions, with points of contact, of varying size and relative stability, creating connections between extremely distant points in the universe. These points, or more properly, spatial bubbles, of contact, are referred to as interspatial or transpatial links (or sometimes just “spatial” links or just “links”). Soon after their initial discovery, the Ionians found that they are related in a complicated way to most common gravitational concentrations (i.e., massive objects), mainly stars, above a certain threshold of mass, and including other dense objects like black holes and neutron stars. There is a practical lower limit of the associated masses of approximately .65 solar masses, beneath which the associated links are either unstable, nonexistent, or too small to be of any real use. Links large enough and stable enough to permit transportation from one region of space to another very distant region are referred to as Class I Links; other, either unstable or smaller links, are referred to as Class II, or sometimes as “inutile” links.

Spatial Links are found to remain in place, not to orbit their associated stars. The Links generally track the orbital motion of their associated stars, as the stars themselves orbit around the centers of galaxies. Thus, the fact that the links orbit in tandem with the stars around galactic centers is an essential element of their existence. Very little is understood, at least by human scientists, of the mechanism of this remarkable association. Very small (dwarf) galaxies (such as the Fornax or Sculptor dwarf galaxies near the Milky Way) generally lack usable links entirely. Galaxies on the order of the Small Magellanic Cloud will have them, although not quite as many as larger galaxies like the Milky Way, M33 or M31, where they are abundant. Above a threshold of something on the order of 50 billion solar masses, the population of links is not found to be correlated further with the masses of galaxies. In other words, the existence of links requires a certain minimum mass of galaxy, but beyond a certain mass, their prevalence is correlated only with the stellar population itself.

Links can be thought of as “gateways,” or portals, through which objects, including spaceships, can pass. Passage is more or less instantaneous, and can occur in either direction. After passing through the portal, the object emerges in a specific, and extremely distant, location. The link, in effect, pairs two extremely remote stars with one another. The other associated star will usually be roughly similar in mass and age to the other star associated with the link, but this is not exact. The detailed physics behind the associations and locked locations of the portals aren't understood by Zubonian scientists, although there are some theories. Ionians have their own theories and certain knowledge, some of which is shared with humans, and some not. (Which is typical of Ionian scientific knowledge in general).

The typical sunlike star in a spiral galaxy will have as few as two or as many as twenty or so macroscopic links to other places in the universe, of which as few as none or as many as all of them will be stable and large enough for transit. Most stars have at least one usable interspatial link to another, extremely remote, star. Distances from the central star (or center of mass of binaries) is in rough inverse proportion to the mass of the system, but for a typical sunlike star is on the order of 2 to 5 billion kilometers.

The links are not obvious; they typically don't emit radiation to any extent, and are so small that their occulting of objects “behind” them is difficult to detect (a region of the space of the associated star is often, but not always, visible through the portal). For a typical sunlike star, a typical link will have an opening about quarter of a kilometer in diameter, but some are as small as 50 meters, and a few are a little larger. Very rarely there will exist a larger portal. The largest known to Zubonian scientists is the Etulmon Link, which is over .5 km. in diameter, and links the system containing the Ionian orbital[1] Etulmon with another star in Ionian space, interdicted to humans.

It is thought that there is a natural limit of about .6 km that is never exceeded. Larger links are always pretty stable, but sometimes fluctuate in size so their practical “pass through” diameter may be as little as 40% than their maximum diameter. Links smaller than about 50m in diameter are generally considered too risky to use for transit, as below this level there is a tendency to fluctuate or simply “wink out” for variable periods of time. Thus, the 5o m. threshold is the cut-off between Class I and the Class II or “inutile” links.

Class I links have a unique and apparently invariant property. They link the star with a part of the universe which is outside the “light cone” of that location with respect to the linked location. In other words, light, or information of any kind, other than what passes through the link, can never be exchanged with the linked location, because it is too distant; the distance in light years between any two linked locations is always significantly greater than the age of the universe, and no matter how many links are followed in sequence, you can never arrive at a location closer than the minimum distance (age of the universe in light years) from any of the other places in the sequence. The fundamental reason for this is assumed to be the law of causality: although the link makes it possible, in effect, to travel far, far faster than light, reaching enormously distant locations in the universe in minute periods of time, there is no other connection through normal space (such as visible light) between these two locations, and never will be. The only actual hints of the distances involved are that in a minute quantity of cases, it's possible to see from the linked locations very distant galaxies or structures that are also visible, from “the other side,” from the other linked location. From data from these small numbers of cases, Ionians long ago concluded that the minimum separation between linked locations is approximately 13.9 billion light years (i.e., approximately the age of the Universe), and the more typical separation is probably more like 20 to 100 billion light years. The web of connections is such, and the universe is large enough, that no location is causally connected, even after a string of connections is made, to any other. Research into what would happen if this hypothesis were pushed to an extreme; by voyaging through hundreds of links, was inconclusive; apparently it just doesn't happen. The extent of the universe beyond the light horizon is simply immense beyond imagination; it is possible to go link to link for uncountable connections and still not run up against a natural limit.

It's a little mind boggling to think that you can travel just to the “edge” of the Solar System, then pass through a “hole in space” and emerge billions of light years away, in a galaxy that will never be visible from Earth, at the edge of another star system (because that's where the links always are), which may be similar to where you left in many respects (or not so much), but is impossibly far away. Yet, in a sense, this becomes a new paradigm of “proximity.” Alpha Centauri may be “only” 4.3 light years from the Sun, but its planets are realistically permanently inaccessible. That system, however, almost certainly has its own links to other extremely remote locations, which are equally unreachable from the locations to which our Solar System links.

Thus, the universe is made of a vast number of intricately interwoven networks of mutually exclusive connections between very remote locations, with travel to much closer locations in normal space effectively impossible due to normal space distance being far too great. The locations which are practicably connected to Ionus (and, as it happens, to Earth) are collectively referred to as Connected Space. Via what turns out to be costly and difficult, but nonetheless practical, sequential-link travel, there are a large number of habitable (and even some inhabited) worlds, and an even larger number of systems containing artificial habitats and/or resources, accessible to space travel. The number, in fact, is more or less only limited by the exploration and previous mapping of links, and the number of transits you're prepared to make. Fast Ionian ships can cross from one typical link to another in a from a few days to a few weeks, so travel from Ionian inhabited worlds to literally thousands of star systems is a reality and has been for many millennia for Ionian civilization, and to a lesser extent for several thousand years in the part of Connected Space inhabited by human beings.

The world systems inhabited by humans are often referred to as "Human Space." Just at the eve of the historical period which includes the Recontact, Human Space consisted of the star systems of nine worlds, (Zubos and the Eight Daughter Worlds, two of which share the same star system (Pirobos and Tularit)), plus another 30 or so star systems lacking habitable planets, which contain interconnecting links (some with artificial habitations, some without). Ionian Connected Space is of unknown extent, but is believed to encompass or at least touch on several thousand habitable worlds and many thousands of other systems, plus at least five or six connections to entirely separately-evolved alien civilizations. However, given the propensities of Ionians for both security and secrecy, the details of those connections are virtually entirely unknown to humans and will presumably remain so indefinitely.  

[1] An orbital, or Banks Orbital, after Iain M. Banks, who describes the general concept in his fiction works, is an artificial habitat built from the debris of a star system, often one containing no habitable planet. Typical habitable area of such a habitat is on the order of hundreds to thousands of times the area of a natural planet.
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