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Sturgeon's House


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Everything posted by Toxn

  1. Because I apparently can't bang this drum enough, here is a direct response to how we'd go about 'fixing' @Lord_James's kids with genetic engineering: 1) Asperger's: this one is polygenic, so there are something like 20-30 genes that we know about which each have a small, quantitative effect on it. 'Fixing' this with modern genetic engineering is more or less impossible - the best way to go about it would be to find a willing partner who you've pre-screened as having lots of non-Asperger's-associated variants of the known genes. Then you could up the chances a bit by screening you and your partner's sperm/eggs before going for IVF. This would be cutting-edge stuff by today's standards, but would only constitute an average percent chance in a risk factor for a complex syndrome. Honestly you'd get 90% of the same result by just having kids with someone who doesn't have the disorder and doesn't have any family members with it. 2) Metabolic disorders: this will depend wildly on what the exact disorder is. Something like metabolic disorder is polygenic (most of the interesting traits are), while ghrelin receptor mutations are single-gene issues. Generally, though; anything tied to the core functions of the body (feeding, fighting, fucking) is going to end up being both very polygenic in nature and incredibly difficult/dangerous to improve while being very easy to fuck up. We accordingly know a bunch of ways to make people morbidly obese, a few ways to make them dangerously skinny, and still have very little idea on how to reliably make people maintain a healthy weight. So this one is probably a non-starter for the next while unless you have a very specific condition that can be linked to only a few genes. Or, again, unless you want to go the boring mate-selection-and-screening approach. 3) Familial cancer risk: here again we bump into complexity. There are lots of cancers with a genetic component, and although many of them can be traced back to a single gene they still almost always end up being a "x-percent increase over baseline" type of genetic abnormality rather than something definitive like cystic fibrosis. Dealing with this is accordingly more about screening for an issue and then avoiding risk factors (which you should be doing anyway) than it is about going into the lab and making super babies. And assuming that you did decide to go the super baby route, you'd most likely end up trading off all the risks of genetic engineering itself (mis-insertion, off-target insertion, multiple insertion, deletion) against whatever lower percentage chance risk of cancer your kid would get from replacing a given defective copy of a gene with a working one. Here, at least, the ambitious can look to the naked mole rat and wonder about what an upgrade to our P16 gene and hyaluronan synthesis pathways might do. In conclusion: the state of the art right now in terms of @Lord_James's mentioned genetic disorders doesn't have a lot going for it over living healthily and selecting a mate with as few genetic issues as possible. Unfortunately most of the fun stuff in terms of heritable traits is locked away in dense webs of interaction between dozens or even hundreds of genes and regulatory regions. So we're paradoxically much more able to do grand, sweeping things to the human form (ie: Hox gene shenanigans, know exogenous genes with potentially impressive effects, myostatin mutants) than fix nitty-gritty issues.
  2. No! Bad! {Waves rolled-up newspaper printed off an "electronic news service" using a "laser ink applicator"}. Germ line modifications? There might be issues of all sorts, on many levels, but it would depend heavily on what's been changed and how. I also cannot stress enough that we just don't know at this point what or how much to change to achieve particular things. However; if we ever do get to the point where a naga is even a viable possibility, then we'll probably be well into an era (like, over a century from now) where large, sweeping changes to genomes are both reliable and routine, and things like species barriers are more or less moot. So for the couple involved it might be a trip to the clinic to have everything sorted out rather than any sort of natural conception. And the kid would be more or less whatever the parents want within legal, technological and moral bounds that are very difficult to even speculate about from here. Again, I have no idea what the relevant moral concerns of the day will be.
  3. Right now we have very limited capacity to re-engineer someone as an adult, so a lot of proposed genetic engineering is germ-line by default. But perhaps not forever: CAR-T therapies show that it's possible (if very risky) to completely rewire parts of your immune system. So here's my (Victorian-era guy speculating on aircraft) guess as to how it might go: - You'd get a bunch of tissue samples (possibly including gut and skin microflora) taken and then be put in sterile isolation. - You'd then be more or less disinfected, put on high-dose antibiotics, antiviral drugs etc. - Your immune system would be knocked down or even out (possibly all the way to bone marrow ablation). - You'd be given a complete course of genetic engineering (possibly using advanced versions of CRISPR, as the T effector cell issue may be overcome with immunomodulation or versions of the cas 9 enzyme that don't set off a reaction) aimed at editing as many cells as possible. - If you're going for tissue/organ engineering, then this might be the point where they operate on you to give you chameleon skin or whatever. - At the same time, your immune system would be modified using something like CAR-T therapy to prevent rejection of edited cells. - Once the editing was done, your microflora etc would be reestablished and you'd be released for convalescence and follow-up treatment. Another option might be to avoid trying to edit anything out of germline all together, and just rely on non-immunogenic approaches and surgery. This may be something like novel organ printing using your own cultured cells, or xenografting. This approach is necessarily less radical and more limited in some ways (no chromatic scales for you, citizen), but still allows some really freaky possibilities (second sets of arms, crazy bio-machine hybrid organs, radical restructuring of the human form) while significantly lowering the chances of your immune system going nuts and killing you. I think it depends how common germ-line editing becomes, and how good a handle we have on it. It sounds ridiculous to say so, but the state of our knowledge right now is that we have a fairly good idea of how to give someone a second torso but have more or less no idea how to 'fix' short sightedness. I think that the biggest one in terms of societal effects might simply be if/when rich people get the wherewithal to make sure that their kids live even longer, healthier lives than the poor, and especially if this involves an element of being able to have kids much later in life. This, combined with human society's pre-existing trend towards ratcheting inequality, seems like a pretty sure path to a gerontocracy at the hands of a long-lived ruling caste. In terms of classism and the rich, I expect there to be many cycles of social movements and reactions centred around class, the cost/complexity of various treatments and elite ideas of purity/healthiness. We can already see rough outlines of this today in the antivax movement, furries, gender dysmorphia etc, but I think the intensity will be something new and startling if/when it gets going and there's no way of guessing how things will shake out. I think we're more in danger of biological essentialism making a comeback disguised as this. I suspect that how much importance is placed on modifications and their 'fitting' you to a particular role will very much depend on where you are in the hierarchy, in the same way that a 1.5-SD difference in upper body strength is held to be very important in terms of defining capacity to do physical work, but a 1-SD difference in academic achievement is not held to be important in defining capacity to do mental work. My admittedly out-of-touch read on the populist position is that notions of equality-of-outcome are more-or-less dead, while equality-of-opportunity is still alive and kicking. So you might see societies which are very happy to allow the guy with the 300-year lifespan coexist with the normies on the basis that both have 'equal opportunities'. This is something that can change rapidly though. I agree that this is definitely a fallacy on the part of whoever drew that comic (not the only one, mind), and that you've succinctly laid out the most relevant factors at play here. Expanding a bit on your thoughts; we know for a fact that shifts in taste regarding beauty standards happen with regularity in societies, and are often driven by shifts in lifestyle and a sort of cyclical 'follow the leader' phenomenon where elites set standards that are imitated by those below them until they lose currency as marks of exclusivity and are replaced by new standards. So 'everyone will be hot' is almost certainly going to mean 'everyone will be hotter by the current standard, at which point the standard will change to something harder for the hoi polloi to attain.'
  4. Fair enough. I think the idea of getting multi-hit survivability might have lead to a reliance on NERA and its associated issues. For my part: I actually did look into going with a 120 tonne vehicle (and designed a ridiculous 200mm high-powered gun for it) before discovering that the width requirement was going to result in interesting (read: difficult) design decisions all on its own. With APFSDS axed mid-way through the competition and decreasing returns on penetration as conventional shells scale up, I ended up settling on a 120-140mm main gun, built a tank around it, and optimised that design into Lil Bouy. Which then ended up having an obscene armour mass fraction, prompting a deep redesign that popped out as the final submission. I think you could make a case that this demonstrates one of the pit-falls of a rapid, iterative approach to design (which is how I design things): that you can get stuck on local maxima.
  5. So I'm late to this party, but thank you to the judges for selecting me. I think this was the most technically challenging competition we've had so far, so I'm glad my design was able to solve at least some of the issues presented. Edit: I also wanted to say thank you to the organisers (especially @N-L-M) who helped make this possible. There's at least as much work going on in the background as gets put into making the submissions themselves, and so I'm very grateful to the folk who slogged through on this so that I could have fun designing imaginary tanks.
  6. 1.486m exactly. Of course, with a turret basket et al it's probably more like 1.4m. The loader is situated so that s/he can grab from the protected ammunition storage by his/her right shoulder and load into the breech without needing to stand up or move around too much.
  7. But the left-wing media wants to silence reports of Islamic terror on US soil because {inaudible}. More seriously, I get the impression that both sides of the US's all-encompassing red/blue conflict are waiting for signs that the irredeemable asshole who did this can be pinned as a member of the other team. In the not-unlikely event that he turns out to be a hard-to-place whackaloon, then the story will lose its legs. For everyone outside of the US, of course, none of this is very interesting or relevant.
  8. So I started having issues where using the sniper scope thingy in tank battles would cause weird graphical errors and randomly crash the computer. This got really bad one night, and the next time I started my computer up Windows was borked, would not start up out of safe mode, and could not be repaired using console commands et al. Meaning that War Thunder is so kak that it bricked my PC
  9. For anyone who wants a chance to win a calendar or something: https://hushkit.net/2019/07/03/aircraft-design-contest-2019-launched/
  10. I get the impression that the Iranians are doing this to put pressure on the Europeans for some sort of sanction relief. Chances are low, unfortunately.
  11. So this is a bit of an obvious one given the kick we've collectively been on, but I think there's still space for a Deseret 2300 tank competition. I'm thinking that the competition would be about light tanks/wheeled death traps, and would include 1970's-equivalent tech available to middle powers who can import a certain amount of high-tech goodies from overseas. The gimmick this time would be that the scenario would change over the course of the competition - with the requirements morphing somewhat as the geo-strategic situation changes.
  12. My understanding is that it's related to the reason why blunt-nosed, cylindrical rigid penetrators tend to have much better penetration than sharp-nosed ones. Note that my understanding here is very weak, so someone who knows more than I do must chime in. Essentially; the intuitive idea that a sharp point puts more strain on a smaller area and therefore penetrates better* is wrong when impact velocities are high and the projectile itself erodes away from the tip. Instead, what you want to do is minimise the surface area of the penetrator in contact with the armour, which leads more or less directly to a blunt nose profile. * Note: this is more-or-less true when velocities are low and the penetrator is completely rigid.
  13. I'll noodle around with descriptions later. For now: The Lil Bouy is as previously described, with a slightly higher-powered 130mm L/55 gun, Kontakt-1 style ERA package and a stereoscopic rangefinder for the gunner. The ERA package is necessary to allow it to survive 60/160mm ATGM shots to the front and lower hull sides. The all-up weight is something like 75mt. The SPG variant has thicker frontal and upper side armour, and sports a 200mm L/35 gun. The gun has the same muzzle energy as the 130mm gun, and uses a variant of its propellant charge. The gun is fed by conveyor and hoist-style autoloader which sits on the rear of the fighting compartment. The autoloader, in turn, is fed by an ammunition rack which takes up most of the hull area underneath the crew's feet. The ammunition rack feeding the autoloader can store up to 20 rounds, with nearly all of it being HE. The SPG's gun runs at 210MPa, so a hilariously overpowered tandem heat shell (400/1080mm RHA penetration) is available in case you need to kill a bolo or something. A more sensible HEAT-FS shell using a HEDP charge (700mm RHA penetration) is available if you want to put fist-sized holes into fortresses and then roast/impale everyone inside.
  14. I know we're not over this one yet, and it'll be at least a year till the next one. But... 1930s Biopunk AFVs (aka the Leviathan Fanwank Apocalypse competition) It's the late 1930s in an alternate timeline where tissue culture is about a century ahead of where it is today. Technologically advanced nations have had the capability to artificially culture blood, skin, bone, muscle and neurons harvested from various animals for over a decade now. Reliable neural interfaces exist for connecting cultured neurons to electronics, although the electronics themselves are 1930s-era vacuum tubes and so on. The result has been the creation and fielding of the first generation of mechanoids/brain tanks/bio-drone planes/whatever, which came just in time to miss WW1. Since then there have been various developments and limited-scale fielding of biomechanical devices on battlefields, but nothing conclusive. Now, with the recent rise of mecha-Hitler in Germany, along with the consequent ratcheting-up of tensions following the anschluss of Austria and the occupation of Czechoslovakia, all sides have begun an all-out effort to acquire the latest and deadliest military equipment possible. You are a designer overseeing a government agency tasked with prototyping and developing a biomechanical AFV for use in your nation's rearmament efforts. You can choose one of the following nations, each with their own specific quirks: Germany: access to large steel pressings and improved chemistry (for propellants, nutrient solutions etc). Submissions must include the participation of at least one large German industrial concern favoured by Mecha-Hitler, and must include suspension/leg elements designed by Kniepkamp (which would be provided). UK: access to oceanic biocultures (ie: tissues from whales, fish, squid etc) and advanced electronics (eg: cavity magnetrons for radar sets). The dimensions of the AFV are limited by railway gauge and tunnel standards, and priority resources will be given to the Navy and RAF (ie: you're second in line for engines, factory floor space, the attention of industrial concerns etc.). Engine technologies, for instance, would be either civilian or from the 1920s, and armour would be riveted rather than welded. France: access to exotic biocultures (ie: from Africa, Polynesia etc). Submissions must include subassemblies from at least two large French industrial concerns, and must include a 37mm SA18 or short 75mm gun. USSR: access to artic biocultures, advanced welding equipment and well-designed weaponry (ie: ShKAS machinegun, 76mm L-11 cannon etc). Due to the ongoing purge the applicant must submit two designs, one of which will be discarded at random. US: access to advanced aero engines, continental biocultures and high-quality alloys. Submissions would have strict dimensional restrictions to assist in sea-borne transport, and would be required to mount at least 5 .30 calibre machineguns covering multiple firing arcs. Common technologies would be: basic bioculture (wood, blood, skin, bone, muscle, neural tissue) drawn from commonly-known domesticated animals and plants. Basic pseudo-organs (biomechanical eyes, brains, livers, hearts etc) can be constructed. Fully mechanical analogues for kidneys, lungs and hearts have been developed. Armour, arms, automotive and electronic technologies are analogous to what was available in our 1920s and early 1930s. Bulk biotissues and biomaterials can be cast in a fairly complex fashion. The exact type of vehicle to be submitted would be decided at a later date, but would be one of the following: scout vehicle, infantry support vehicle, mechanical cavalry vehicle, breakthrough/fortification assault vehicle, artillery support vehicle or anti-aircraft vehicle. Submissions would have to explain and justify aspects such as tactical mobility, strategic mobility, firepower, control, maintenance/repair, and logistical factors (ie: how much fuel/ammo/nutrient paste/artificial blood is needed per day, how much the vehicle carries etc.). Submissions would be rated both in terms of how they fulfil requirements, with bonus points being given to creative designs that still manage to do what they're supposed to.
  15. Edit: I thought about it a bit more and I think I get your point. Wilson was also a Democrat (just checked it) and one of those presidencies that could be said to have completely changed the course of your nation's history. The last 30 years though? I feel like there's no massive differences between which team is in charge in terms of US foreign policy.
  16. See I think the US left would argue that it's the other way around (ala neoliberals)
  17. It does, unfortunately. Quick question for the US crowd: would any major foreign policy events of the last 30 years have been different if the other guy had been president? Off the top of my head I can think of maybe Gore not invading Iraq (he'd still have invaded Afghanistan though).
  18. I don't think they'll get significant pushback from the international community there. Lord knows what this is all supposed to accomplish.
  19. And it's pretty much the best policy the US has had on NK since the war. Seriously, the best thing the US could do for that part of the world is to fuck off (maybe hand the South Koreans have a few nukes on the way out) and let NK evolve into a sweatshop developmental economy for a generation. Edit: I know I'm stepping in randomly here, it's just one of the confusing things for me as a bit of a left-leaning outsider to see lefty folk in the US shitting on Trump for one of his few not-completely-fucked foreign policy decisions. I'd personally be happy if the US just broadly started stepping back a bit from constantly fucking around in areas where it has no compelling interests, and it's insane to me that only president beyond-the-pale was even willing to contemplate it in this case.
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