Monday, February 06, 2006

Squid overlords predicted by Stephen Baxter

Any reader of Manifold:Time by Stephen Baxter will recall that he has enhanced cephalopods fly an "unmanned" (but squidded) mission to Cruithne, an asteroid sometimes described as Earth's second moon.

Cool Hunting reports on a "Welcome Squid Overlords" T-shirt whose designer was inspired by a Discovery science special in which it was predicting that cephalopods are the genera best poised to be the dominant species on the planet after humans go away (we'll make great pets), and the fact that cephalopod biomass has probable surpassed the human biomass on the planet. The Welcome Quid Overlords t-shirt is available at the Feed Store.

I am sure that scientists that work on TV shows of future scenarios read science fiction to get all of their best ideas. Perhaps a Stephen Baxter novel inspired the scientist to put forth the hypothesis, or Baxter was inspired by a scientist (see the references in his novel) and then went on to inspire the next scientist. In Baxter's novel, the squids are bred and genetically manipulated to be smart enough to be capable of running the mission to Cruithne. It turns out that the smart squid is better equipped to run the mission than any computer system they could build (at least in the book), and they actually end up taking over the asteroid.

Eventually, Stephen Baxter has the main character of Manifold:Time, Reid Malenfant, travel to the asteroid Cruithne. This asteroid is often called Earth's second moon because it is in a 1:1 resonance orbit with Earth. For every revolution of Earth around the sun, Cruithne also goes through one orbit. Here is a java simulation of the orbit of Cruithne, Earth's second moon, that is worth playing with. There are currently no plans that I know of to send a mission to Cruithne, manned, squidded or otherwise.

I, for one, would like be the first to welcome our new squid overlords.

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