Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Nov 18, 2015 4:04:04 GMT
As you probably know, its pretty rare here on Earth and likely other rocky planets. When solar systems first form (at least aroung G type stars like our own) intense solar winds sweep light elements out toward the edge of the solar system, forming enormous gas giants, instead of providing a source of inert lighter-than-air-gas to our floating creations. That being said, we do have some and since it's noble gas, it is unlikely to interact with most molecules, meaning it could likely be stored safely within a lipid monolayer or even just roaming about the cytoplasm (although i will do research into its ability to dissolve).
Source: "How to Build a Planet", "Cosmos a Spacetime Odyssey", "Stupidly Expensive Chemistry Textbook"
Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Nov 18, 2015 13:45:39 GMT
According to the Engineer's Toolbox (which for whatever reason has the solubility of a very strange assortment of gases calculated in list format), Helium can be dissolved in water to the tune of about .0014 g/kg at 37 degrees celsius and .0015 g/kg at 25 (bearing in mind that Molecular Oxygen is .033 g/kg and .04 g/kg respectively). That is underwhelming to say the least, so there would need to be a way to either attach the helium to a more soluble binding agent (maybe a lithium atom that's had its outermost electron removed?) or a way to sequester it in a compartment that is not suffused by cytosol.
Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Nov 18, 2015 15:13:37 GMT
Helium dissolves really poorly in water (oxygen is just there to demonstrate this). As a result, it would be horrendously difficult to just kind of "have" helium in large quantities hanging out in the cell (inside a vacuole or even outside of one). In order to have large amounts of it, something that dissolves more easily would have to be bound to the helium, but since helium can't realistically form molecules, that's easier said than done. One could also have a way to store the helium in a waterless area, but given the way that cells move things about, it couldn't travel via normal pathways, so there would have to be a way to make helium travel across membrane into contained air, while having a way to keep it from crossing back out. Sorry for the biobabble above :D.
Edit: I have a way to keep it from crossing back, I just need some time to make it coherent
Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Nov 18, 2015 15:20:24 GMT
Helium is small, so it can readily diffuse through the spaces present in most cellular membranes. With this in mind, it shouldn't be hard to get it to enter the cell. Once inside, there could be a vacuole, but it's special: this vacuole is composed primarily of protein, a few lipids provide basic structure, but well over 80 percent of the surface area is a mesh of active transport protein that uses ATP (or GTP if you're feeling hipster) to push Helium into the vacuole. The protein does not transport helium back out and without a lot of lipid to diffuse across, this would effectively hold back the helium and allow it to be sequestered.
Ah sweet! So to clarify: There's a way to store helium inside of individual cells, one way or another. Potentially, if a cell were able to store say... its own mass in helium (if that's realistic at all), we could have some very light organisms yes?
Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Nov 19, 2015 1:40:23 GMT
Theoretically definitely. In terms of the helium sequestration being useful for lowering density, the air vacuole would work best. I have no idea how much could be stored (my initial thought though is: a lot) but it could make the microbes float (I think). Yeah, I'm not really sure what I just said, but summation: yeah.
Welp it's the entirely wrong season but I've been thinking about witches for a while and I felt the need to bring this thread back from the dead to post the concept before I forgot it. Heh... back from the dead. Fitting!
So let's get down to the grind: A stereotypical witch is ugly, has a long pointy nose, wrinkled/pimpled skin, long sharp fingernails, and I can't think of the rest right no- oh right they fly on brooms, brew potions, and cast spells.
ALLOW ME TO SET THE SCENE: Billions of light years from Earth and billions of years into either the past or future, let's say life has evolved and yielded a six-limbed bird-like creature with two pairs of legs instead of one. Billions of years down the line, this Hex-Bird has evolved an upright position, and a smarter brain. It has become the dominant species and is learning to work together with other members of its kind to advance. These are witches: Avian humanoids. For those of you that watch Doctor Who (lookin' at you The_Wayward_Admiral), think of the Carrionites in terms of their physical appearance. The beak has decreased in size to look like a pointy, curved nose. The feathers on their heads have become long and coarse (similar to hair). Most of the feathers on their bodies have disappeared save for the modified feathers on their heads and the feathers on their wings. Witches have wings located on their backs that they use to fly. When not in use, witches tend to drape their wings over their shoulders to use as a cloak. Their wings tend to drag along behind them. Their hands and feet are scaled, like a regular bird. These appendages end in sharp talons.
So we've got the pointy beak nose, the wrinkled and pimpled featherless skin, and their sharp claws. We've also got flying but what about brooms? Well this is where we step out of the organisms' natural anatomy and step into their intelligence. The Hexxers have always been able to fly, but one downside to flight is the necessity of a hollow bone structure. This leaves them weak and vulnerable. Despite their claws and beaks and their flight capabilities, they may even be more vulnerable than humans! What's the solution to this? Weapons of course. The Hexxers have fashioned long pole weapons tipped at the end with hundreds of sharp quills. These broomsticks are extremely useful to Hexxers, to the point where they carry them everywhere. In flight, they carry them using their feet, giving them the appearance of flying on the brooms themselves!
Some hundred years or so in the future, Hexxers are doing just fine! They're making their way through the research tree and they've just discovered a new branch of research, known to us as Alchemy, the precursor to Chemistry. Using the power of alchemy, the Hexxers have discovered various volatile substances. They've created chemicals that poison, burn, and cause other nasty effects. Hexxers have created a habit of dipping their broom quills into these substances before battle, for that extra damage output. They also have been known to bottle up these potions and throw them at their enemies. However, their advances in science have not been constrained to the malevolent side of the spectrum. These breakthroughs in alchemy have also given way to great leaps in medicine and healing!
Now onto spells... ... and this is where I got stuck. Spells are kind of hard to do realistically.
So what do you guys think so far? Also do any of you have any ideas for spells and how they'd work? Or should spells just not be a thing.
Post by The_Wayward_Admiral on Dec 18, 2015 3:56:23 GMT
I like it!
When it comes to spells though, I've been thinking about this for years, working out how the Elder Scrolls magic would work. Unfortunately we run into the problems with dragons, the materials and time needed to realistically achieve things like fire are unlikely to be had. The best i had was that things like lightning could work with stored static charge. Fire would require some serious doing without adding drastic anatomical changes. Frost I've thought could be achieved easily, if there were a way to make entropy decay in reverse...
Ah so you're thinking of a biological route to spells. I was thinking using hyper-advanced technology through the application of Arthur C. Clarke's third law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Example: Special gauntlets that can slow down air molecules and to lower the temperature to near-absolute zero temperatures in a straight beam. Or something...
I've also pondered a biological equivalent to frost breath. I've come up with a system of taking a gas (say nitrogen or methane), compressing it into a liquid form, and expelling it outwards to be used offensively.