Comic 274 - Technological Limitations

19th Mar 2015, 12:00 AM
Technological Limitations
Average Rating: 5 (21 votes)
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Comments:

Sleeper 19th Mar 2015, 12:07 AM edit delete reply

Very cool page!
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:38 AM edit delete reply

Thankys ! :D
RoseOfPain 19th Mar 2015, 12:08 AM edit delete reply
So... Lemme see if I understood... the distorted waves damage the Epiphytes too?
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:39 AM edit delete reply

Thats correct - even to the point of knocking out their robotics.
xpacetrue 20th Mar 2015, 1:58 AM edit delete reply

The "artifactus" is a type of machine or robot, isn't he? And is it a "he"? They don't really have gender, do they? For that matter, do the Epiphytes have gender?
Stormwind13 20th Mar 2015, 9:24 PM edit delete reply

As I understand it, xpacetrue, no Epiphytes don't really have gender. I mean, no more than plants have gender. Many plants have the organs to perform what is needed, as needed though.
DLKmusic 19th Mar 2015, 12:31 AM edit delete reply

Wow... I was actually not expecting this twist. Wonder if Jet can modify his box to protect the Epiphytes too?
Morituri 19th Mar 2015, 12:54 AM edit delete reply
It sounds like the epiphytes have their equivalent of the box. Their problem is that they can't leave it to go repair the thingy, as long as the thingy is still broadcasting.
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:39 AM edit delete reply

They have protected zones.. they just cant get near the device :D
Fugacity 20th Mar 2015, 8:04 AM edit delete reply
Actually this development seemed quite logical. I rather expected she would either offer or be asked to fix the doohickey that is driving folks nuts.
DLKmusic 21st Mar 2015, 5:56 PM edit delete reply
I did expect Galina to offer to help, what took me by surprise here is that the signal is affecting the Epiphytes as well (or does when they leave their protected area's), and that they would be incapable of fixing it.
jamie59 19th Mar 2015, 12:40 AM edit delete reply

So they NEED Gali.
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:39 AM edit delete reply

So very much!
Quieteyes 22nd Mar 2015, 9:25 AM edit delete reply
Indeed. She is literally the only person for the job.
Morituri 19th Mar 2015, 12:59 AM edit delete reply

IIRC, the Epiphytes had contact with humans (the Roman Empire) sometime around -200 CE? So they have human medical profiles on file. Doing detailed medical scanning of Galina must have been quite a surprise.
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:40 AM edit delete reply

Greek and Roman actually .. and yes they found Galina quite surprising :D
plymayer 19th Mar 2015, 1:02 AM edit delete reply

Win, win for everyone!
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:40 AM edit delete reply

Thats what they are hoping :D
ProfEtheric 19th Mar 2015, 1:06 AM edit delete reply

Love the communication here! Great page!

(I really have nothing else to say here.)
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:41 AM edit delete reply

:D again this was the result of months of discussion between me and Rose :D Glad it came out right :D
cattservant 19th Mar 2015, 1:22 AM edit delete reply

Destiny's found her,
Worlds hanging in the balance.
Her reason to be!
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:41 AM edit delete reply

Yep remember what she said hoping that being what she is would be a help.. :D
Sheela 19th Mar 2015, 8:30 PM edit delete reply

Ah, only one world hangs in the balance, the other world already got blown up!
chk 19th Mar 2015, 9:27 PM edit delete reply

No pressure.
Centcomm 19th Mar 2015, 1:42 AM edit delete reply

LOL! ok that was funny :D
mjkj 19th Mar 2015, 3:25 AM edit delete reply

Wow, great page *blinks*

So, it is broken, and they need Gali to fix it.

*hugs her*

You go, Gali girl!

Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:32 PM edit delete reply

soon enough ! :D
Haegan2005 19th Mar 2015, 3:47 AM edit delete reply

@Cent/Rose

Go girls go!
highlander55 19th Mar 2015, 8:38 AM edit delete reply

The scans seem to highlight her heart. Coincidence? Not mention the mammogram without the pain.
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:33 PM edit delete reply

Well the Epiphytes dont have hearts like we do :D its a interesting organ :D
Hornet 19th Mar 2015, 6:13 PM edit delete reply
Guess it's a good thing Dr. Kotko opted not to outfit Gali with a Wifi transceiver. :P
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:33 PM edit delete reply

this is SO true :D
Matt Knab 19th Mar 2015, 8:12 PM edit delete reply

You are our only hope!
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:33 PM edit delete reply

obi wan?
Kitty 19th Mar 2015, 11:14 PM edit delete reply
This is getting really cool...
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:33 PM edit delete reply

wooo!
Howard 20th Mar 2015, 6:27 AM edit delete reply
"Great, sounds good, but first we may need to make a quick call to stop my boyfriend from nuking us all out existence."
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:34 PM edit delete reply

oh yeahhh that would be a good thing right?
Stormwind13 20th Mar 2015, 9:29 PM edit delete reply

Yeah, that could be a bad thing, Howard. Especially if the Epiphyte's ship has defenses to deal with 'threats'.

::Missile launch detected::
::Black hole forming along missile flight path::
SLURP ::Missile threat, removed::
SLURP ::Missile launcher (the whole SHIP), removed::
Defenses standing down.

:-P
CyberSkull 20th Mar 2015, 6:50 AM edit delete reply

She can survive because of her special mind!

(Now when you say special…)
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:34 PM edit delete reply

She is so special !
DizzasterJuice 20th Mar 2015, 10:48 AM edit delete reply

I'm lovin' this page! Especially the scans in the last panel.
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:34 PM edit delete reply

Thank you !! :D they were a pain to do :D
Boren 20th Mar 2015, 12:45 PM edit delete reply
This scan coming soon to a TSA desk near you
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:35 PM edit delete reply

HAHHA! wow thats kinda scary :D
Spelledeg 20th Mar 2015, 1:52 PM edit delete reply

OOOh wow, this is so neat! Seeing how Galina really is pivotal in everything that's happened recently is so cool. Wow. Very nice job on the scans. Ooo, I can't wait to see how the disabling mission goes. I don't imagine this will wrap up without a hitch!
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:35 PM edit delete reply

Thankyou ! yeah Gali still has a few speed bumps to go though :D
ChaosTheory 20th Mar 2015, 5:05 PM edit delete reply
Mrrrggg... the clever monkeys were able to build a shield to protect their minds from the emanations of this device, but the builders of said device could not?

Norman, coordinate!
Centcomm 20th Mar 2015, 7:35 PM edit delete reply

hey who said the walking monkeys didnt have some advantages ! :D
ChaosTheory 20th Mar 2015, 7:53 PM edit delete reply
It would have generated less cognitive dissonance in me if it weren't for the vast technology gap between humans and the visitors. Given the existence of that gap, my mind demands an explanation. The cheap route would be to assert that masterly of these technologies has been "lost" to the crew, but that's hard to buy when the crew includes AI's (could have been deliberately expunged, though). Thing about living things is that all of our senses are avenues of attack. Accordingly, we build defenses against such attacks (sunglasses, earmuffs, gloves, etc.). It is difficult to accept that the visitors do not have equivalent systems for their senses. That said, I am not assuming you don't have an explanation; just hoping that it's a good one. A plot hole is also possibly; that would be a minor disappointment, but it's not like I would stop enjoying your work because of it.
ChaosTheory 20th Mar 2015, 8:02 PM edit delete reply
Another way to consider it is that any evolutionary path that generated psychic transceivers would have created a niche for psychic predators, leading to psychic armor.
Stormwind13 20th Mar 2015, 9:32 PM edit delete reply

If it is telepathic and they are telepaths, Chaos... they are likely more susceptible to the emanations. Galina apparently (because of the unique way she is put together) ignores the waves. Unless they are putting out other wavelengths, she is unexpectedly immune to the device's broadcast.
ChaosTheory 20th Mar 2015, 9:56 PM edit delete reply
Their vulnerability is expected; their lack of defenses, constructed as a direct consequence of that vulnerability, is not. If humans (or any form of life in our experience) has a vulnerability that affects reproductive fitness, they either develop a defense mechanism, eliminate the threat that is taking advantage of that vulnerability, or they never get a chance to build singularity-powered starships.

When evolution opens a niche, it often produces an exploiter of same (nature abhorring a vacuum and all that). If evolution produces an organism ("food") that can be incapacitated by "psychic radiation" then odds are a predator will move into that niche and start doing exactly that. The "food" either develops a defense, or dies out.

In natural evolution, a "defense mechanism" does not necessarily directly address the vulnerability. For instance: many, many Earth organisms address their vulnerability to "being eaten" by "breeding like crazy" and/or "hiding".

In our experience, sentient beings address the problem of "things are eating us" by "killing them first". The problem with making that assumption in regard to the visitors is twofold: they are not human, and we only have one data-point (ourselves). That said, I would expect a life form suffering from "predators are using evolved psychic weaponry to exploit our sensitivity to same" to result in "let's find a way to shield ourselves from said weapon". Of course, if their response was "screw defense; just kill all the predators" then maybe not.

All of that aside, I would think we could agree that it would take a fairly sophisticated machine to be affected by a psychic weapon. The naive response is to wonder why they don't build a dumb, remote-controlled one to go fix the darn thing. I can imagine situations in which that would not be a viable options, but they seem contrived.
Stormwind13 20th Mar 2015, 11:07 PM edit delete reply

With their world getting destroyed, it’s conceivable that the Epiphytes may have rushed and something didn't get put together quite the way it was supposed to. The flaw wasn't detected until it the system had been running awhile and was already beyond the point it could be safely addressed.

The device doesn't sound like it was a WEAPON, but a device for communicating. It was designed to have a lot of power run thru it though, since it was supposed to be sending communications across vast distances. Possibly also it helps tie all the people and robots on the ship together too. Boosts the natural telepathic range on-board. Still I’m wondering if they didn't goof in their design though.

Have you ever lost the serpentine belt on a car, Chaos? I had it happen, and since EVERYTHING was tied to it, the car got really hard to deal with. The water temperature pegged, the power steering went out and the alternator went dead. Had to muscle the car to the side of the road and shut it down before it seized up or ruptured something from the heat. Across 3 lanes of moderate traffic, at a little over 100 kph, in an S corner.

So, I’m wondering if they fed their power runs THRU the device, because well it needed access to lots of power, and then we let the power come out the other end for other devices maybe less critical, or maybe not. Now, if the device develops a problem, if you shut it down, no power gets to anything further down the line. Kind of like dropping the serpentine belt (which didn't break, the idler wheel failed, froze up and warped the belt which stretched and came off). So they have to try to fix it while it’s up to not lose power to other important systems. If it now has gotten so hot that getting close to it will cook you though, you have a problem.

Another possible example would be Chernobyl or even more so Fukushima. "We have safeties in place, things will be FINE." Turns out, that wasn't really the case. The designers thought they had thought of every conceivable problem that could arise, and they were seriously wrong there.

Maybe the Epiphytes had a similar mindset, and now have a similar problem. Thinking they had safeties in place only to be hit by something none of them foresaw. And now their responses are inadequate to the task. Their protections work, but only when they are at a distance. Getting too close will defeat the protections they have available. Sounds like the Epiphytes are still looking for alternatives to throwing resources (their robots and people) into harms way to fix the problem, with the loss of some of the resources committed. The Epiphytes probably thought they had the time to work out a solution, because they didn't realize the harm the device was causing beyond their ship.
Tokyo Rose 22nd Mar 2015, 5:57 AM edit delete reply

Multiple reply here, because I sincerely hate the way comments thread, or fail to thread.

@ChaosTheory
"Mrrrggg... the clever monkeys were able to build a shield to protect their minds from the emanations of this device, but the builders of said device could not?"

The builders are protected--as long as they don't try to get too close to it. The transmitter is directed outward and is in a location that is well-shielded from within the ship. There are a couple of factors at work here to explain the situation.

1) Comparing the psychic sensitivity of humans to that of this species is like comparing the human sense of hearing to that of the greater wax moth. (Humans can sense sound frequencies up to a maximum of twenty kilohertz. Greater wax moths can sense sound frequencies up to three hundred kilohertz.)

2) Keep in mind that Space Am Big; the Luna Star is still quite some distance away. The signal does experience some attenuation over a range, and it's still strong enough to be picked up on Terra. Imagine how "loud" it is at point-blank range.

@ChaosTheory
"The cheap route would be to assert that masterly of these technologies has been "lost" to the crew, but that's hard to buy when the crew includes AI's (could have been deliberately expunged, though)."

I can safely say that mastery of the technology has not diminished or been lost.

@ChaosTheory
"Thing about living things is that all of our senses are avenues of attack. Accordingly, we build defenses against such attacks (sunglasses, earmuffs, gloves, etc.). It is difficult to accept that the visitors do not have equivalent systems for their senses."

They do, in fact, possess natural defenses against psychic attack, as well as having developed the technology to create some external protection. However, all the earmuffs and -plugs in the world will not adequately protect a human from the skull-fucking effects of standing directly next to, say, the eruption of Krakatoa, which reportedly ruptured the eardrums of unsuspecting sailors some forty miles away. (For the purposes of this example, we are ignoring the other immediate physical effects of standing directly next to Krakatoa, i.e. "getting blown the ever-loving fuck up".)

@ChaosTheory
"The naive response is to wonder why they don't build a dumb, remote-controlled one to go fix the darn thing. I can imagine situations in which that would not be a viable options, but they seem contrived."

Because they have never, in their entire history as a species, created any technology that is not psychically sensitive. It's like being asked to design and build a car that is intended to be operated by people who are completely blind, when you yourself are fully sighted and, in fact, your only understanding of blindness comes from detailed stories of your great-grandfather's interactions with blind people. This is a blind spot (pardon the phrase) in their technology, but its inclusion is deliberate, not the result of an accidental plot hole. (The above analogy is probably kind of terrible, but hopefully it gets the idea across.)

@Stormwind13
"With their world getting destroyed, it’s conceivable that the Epiphytes may have rushed and something didn't get put together quite the way it was supposed to. The flaw wasn't detected until it the system had been running awhile and was already beyond the point it could be safely addressed."

They did have adequate time to prepare for their evacuation, and there are many multiply-redundant systems aboard their vessels, but this is a case of something getting damaged in transit. Despite all precautions and redundancies, accidents do happen.

@Stormwind13
"The device doesn't sound like it was a WEAPON, but a device for communicating. It was designed to have a lot of power run thru it though, since it was supposed to be sending communications across vast distances. Possibly also it helps tie all the people and robots on the ship together too. Boosts the natural telepathic range on-board."

It's externally directed, with no internal broadcast--which is fortunate, because otherwise, there wouldn't be anything left alive or active on the ship, given how severe the effects of its malfunction have become. The outer hull is well-shielded.

@Stormwind13
"So, I’m wondering if they fed their power runs THRU the device, because well it needed access to lots of power, and then we let the power come out the other end for other devices maybe less critical, or maybe not."

To avoid spoilers, I'll just say that this is pretty much accurate. Shutting it down from elsewhere in the ship is not a practical solution.

@Stormwind13
"The Epiphytes probably thought they had the time to work out a solution, because they didn't realize the harm the device was causing beyond their ship."

Spot on. Note what One says in response to Gali's statement that the device is causing harm. They parked outside of humanity's apartment complex, and due to excellent soundproofing on their own vehicle, they had no idea that their muffler has fallen off entirely and the whole complex is being stirred to homicidal fury by the racket.
ChaosTheory 23rd Mar 2015, 12:29 PM edit delete reply
@Tokyo Rose

Thank you for the extensive reply. I would say that I considered attenuation-with-distance before writing my original comment. I wasn't able to produce a satisfactory (to me, anyway) explanation, taking into account the available data, based solely on that factor (be it inverse-square or inverse-whatever), but I confess that I did not consider directionality. The directional nature of the system, coupled with attenuation and technological "blind spots" works well enough. I hypothesize that the other factor in all of this is that the malfunction in question is really not that big a deal for the Epiphytes; it's not really endangering them, and they didn't know it was hurting us. From the sound of things, they probably have other, nominally more-important problems. Now it's suddenly a priority, the factors cited by Tokyo Rose are in full play, and Gali presents a quick and (easy?) solution that doesn't involve inventing a whole new (to them) technology.

The literalist in me still has a problem with the never-invented-a-technology-that-wasn't-psychic bit, as it is obviously untrue (there's nothing psychic about chemistry or metallurgy) but I'm assuming that the context here is their computing/autonomous machinery infrastructure.
ChaosTheory 23rd Mar 2015, 12:32 PM edit delete reply
On a totally different track, may I say I absolutely love the irony of poor Gali coming withing two angstroms of frying her neural net trying to figure out the Epiphyte's language, only to have the go: "Of course we speak Russian and English; doesn't everybody?"
mjkj 21st Mar 2015, 4:59 AM edit delete reply

Oh, TWC is down - and all the way, too...
Sheela 22nd Mar 2015, 5:47 PM edit delete reply

But then it came back up. :)
Kitty 22nd Mar 2015, 11:44 PM edit delete reply
Can I just say a heartfelt THANK YOU for making a girl the star of this story? We like adventures, too!! :D
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