Jun 23, 2021 7:27 PM
Bubblehead aliens meet Amenta
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After much debate at home it has been decided that they can trade star maps and telemetry with aliens! Data for data sounds reasonably fair. Science Eater has been working on Amentan file format conversion already. In-person visits sound exciting too, but perhaps later.

They haven't found any habitable-to-them planets yet but they have only very recently started exploring, about one Amentan year ago. Their requirements for habitability are thus: A slightly lower gravity/oxygen content and slightly higher temperature/atmospheric pressure than Amentans, but they don't mention a year length.

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Amentans have found a couple candidates that they rejected on those grounds, and will highlight them in the data set!

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That's very exciting! They found one planet that's a bit of an ice-ball even by Amentan standards, but has the right year length and a good atmosphere, here. With techniques like orbital mirrors it might be quite colonizable for them. They think the fact that the two species will not be directly competing for living space is a great relief.

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If they did find a planet with overlapping suitability it might be neat to try an experimental integrated colony but it's certainly convenient that they don't have to figure that out right away.

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That's something far off in the future for now. They're relieved they don't have to immediately think about the prospect of interstellar war. They're prepared to defend themselves and have various classified plans to that effect but it is usually better to negotiate a non-war solution even if it involves giving concessions.

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Is there a reason they were so concerned about meeting warlike aliens?

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They used to fight each other a lot, on both small and large scales, mostly over living area and resources, and eventually stopped. But the solution involves educating everyone on game theory and also doing a lot of brain-exchanging so that every part of the world has some small part of every other part of the world, and they can't do that with aliens, and aliens might have different interpretations of game theory.

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Oh! Amentans used to fight each other over living space but they had that sorted with strong international agreements on population control even before they discovered warp.

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That's good to hear. The bubbleheads hadn't yet industrialized when they managed to stop fighting all the time, and came to agreement on population controls very quickly when it started to be a problem. They're still pretty far below carrying capacity and expecting to find planets soon so their allowable growth rate is about 6% per Amentan year.

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The Amentans are holding growth down a little lower than that till they find a planet they can get underway on but it seems to be a reasonable number.

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They're still having trouble wrapping their heads around being an isolated brain. Do they limit the creation of new bodies instead of the creation of new colonies? A bubblehead colony can have as many bodies as it can support, it just can't subdivide without permission.

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...they limit the creation of new bodies, yes, since each one is a separate person. A bubblehead can have several bodies?

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...A bubblehead is a collection of bubbles, which are fleshy tendrils attached to their heads. Bubbles are neural tissue in a tough outer casing. All the bubbles on a body come together to think and react to the environment and such, but all the bubbles that consider themselves to belong to a colony constitute a person. Whether they're on one body or thirty bodies. That's why frequent brain-exchanging is psychologically essential.

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It does sound like that would be important. If Amentans could have several bodies they would probably still limit the creation of bodies, since bodies are what take up space and eat food and stuff, but doing it the bubbleheads' way seems like it would make sense for them.

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If a colony loses too many resources it'll recycle its less important parts, or merge with another if things are very bad. Needing to do that is bad and hurts, but when an Amentan body dies it's a whole person dying? Not just part of them? That seems terrible!

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Yeah, the whole person dies if an Amentan body does! They don't have a way around that, though they have science fiction about it.

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They should share fiction and other art! (It turns out bubbleheads don't have anywhere even remotely near as much of a literary tradition or societal output of writing as Amentans, but they really like elaborate visual art and have lots of that.

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The Amentans brought a selection of their assorted art for the bubbleheads! They are excited to see what the bubbleheads do artwise.

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Landscapes, still life, portraits(?) (they have six limbs, moving around hexapedaly and using the front limbs as manipulators, though they almost have 'hair' of the bubbles, which are variously colored tentacle-like tendrils about an inch thick and six inches to a foot long), stained glass, mandala-type things, impressionistic painting, sculpture, photography, animation, lots of time-lapse videos of things growing or being built or decaying...

Most of their architecture seems to be centered on compounds with a large outer wall, elaborate gardens inside, and a smaller singular building in the middle that again usually looks like a fortress of some kind. Their cities are all separated with lots of internal gates and fences and checkpoints, though there's still some open spaces there. They see the same colors as Amentans but use them very differently. To bubbleheads, blue indicators mean 'ok/yes/go' and brown means 'bad/no/stop'.

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Amentans use white and red for those meanings, and they explain along with the art transfer the caste system and how it's color coded.

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Well, Amentans have to specialize somehow if they can't split and combine themselves as needed. They like what Amentans have done with glass and steel in the cities, though it all seems... Insecure, like wild animals could just wander into places?

What do Amentans eat? Bubbleheads are technically omnivores, though the vast majority of their diets are plants.

(Beauty Of Life is mostly various flavors of biologist and would like to discuss Amentan ecosystems now please!!)

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Amenta doesn't have that many wild animals and the ones which are issues in cities are things like bugs that wouldn't be stopped by walls. Most animals don't actually want to be around Amentans anyway, so even in the tropics and poles where there are more animals they tend not to wander into cities. Amentans are also omnivores, and eat more meat than it sounds like Bubbleheads do, but still lots of plants. Here are pictures of Amentan foods and ingredients. They have an ecologist, who can talk about Amentan animals! They have birds and fish and mammals (Amentans are mammals) and bugs!

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They also have things that fill the niches of birds and fish and insects and mammals, though the evolutionary history is different. For example the 'mammals' typically lay eggs and have a different spinal column layout. Beauty Of Life is fascinated. They are now trying to figure out if Amentan foods would be safe for bubbleheads to eat, and vice versa.

Climbing Engineer Scout, having looked at both species' starmaps, observes that building a subspace relay between their two homeworlds would not be too terribly expensive - here, it would need just 47 satellites, one around each of these stars - and having a channel of communication would be good. Does Amenta have the ability to build those? Also, have they built any megaprojects meant to make getting into space cheaper like launch cannons or skyhooks? He really likes the bubbleheads' history of that kind of thing, before better shuttles made the idea obsolete. Or maybe big space stations?

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Amenta can build those! They have stations on their moons and on some other planets in their system but they aren't seasonable so it's hard to staff them. They don't have any free-orbiting stations yet.

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The bubbleheads can build those too. Maybe they can split the project? Bubbleheads are good at building very large structures, if Amenta might want big space stations later! Look at these huge hydro dams! And artificial lakes and islands! And really big particle accelerator! And these superheavy cargo rail and ocean networks! And this cylinder-orbital habitat! (Climbing Engineer Scout is as much of a nerd as Beauty of Life, in their own specialty)

Coordination Minister wonders, how many Amentans are there exactly? There are approximately 380 million bubblehead colonies, but that leaves them with about six billion bodies inhabiting their planet. Also, they're a bit concerned with how many different Amentan countries there are. If their people have to deal with conflicting expectations and policies from Amentans of different countries, they might find it confusing and frustrating. There are potential problems there.

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