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Disney and his people are puzzled by Travers' disdain for fantasy, given the nature of the Mary Poppins story, as well as Travers' own rich imagination.

She particularly objects to how the character George Banks, the estranged father of the children in Mary Poppins' charge, is depicted, insisting that he is neither cold nor cruel. Gradually, they grasp how deeply personal the Mary Poppins stories are to her and how many of the characters were inspired by her past.

The team realize Travers has valid criticisms and make changes, though she becomes increasingly disengaged as painful childhood memories resurface. Seeking to understand what troubles her, Disney invites Travers to Disneyland , which, along with her developing friendship with Ralph, the creative team's revisions to the George Banks character, and the addition of a new song and a different ending, help dissolve Travers' opposition. Her creativity reawakens, and she begins working with the team; however, when Travers discovers that there is to be an animation sequence, she confronts Disney over his broken promise and returns home.

Disney learns that Travers is actually her pen name , taken from her father's given name. Her real name is Helen Goff, and she's actually Australian, not British. This gives Disney new insight into Travers, and he follows her to London.

Arriving unexpectedly at her door, Disney tells her that he also had a less-than-ideal childhood, but stresses the healing value of his art. He urges Travers to not let deeply-rooted past disappointments dictate the present. Travers relents and grants Disney the film rights.

Disney has not invited Travers, fearing how she might react with the press watching. Prompted by Russell, Travers shows up unannounced at Disney's office; he reluctantly issues her an invitation. Initially, she watches Mary Poppins with a lack of enthusiasm, particularly during the animated sequences. She gradually warms to the rest of the film, however, becoming deeply moved by the depiction of George Banks' personal crisis and redemption.

Credits adapted from The New York Times. In , Australian producer Ian Collie produced a documentary film on P. Travers titled The Shadow of "Mary Poppins". During the documentary's production, Collie noticed that there was "an obvious biopic there" and convinced Essential Media and Entertainment to develop a feature film with Sue Smith writing the screenplay. We knew we'd eventually have to show Disney. Sherman provided producer Alison Owen with an advance copy of a salient chapter from his then upcoming book release, Moose: Chapters From My Life.

The chapter entitled, "'Tween Pavement and Stars" contained characterizations and anecdotes which proved seminal to Marcel's script rewrite, in particular, the anecdote about there not being the color red in London. With executive approval, the studio acquired the screenplay in February and joined the production with Owen, Collie and Philip Steuer as producers, and Christine Langan , Troy Lum, Andrew Mason, and Paul Trijbits serving as executive producers.

Iger subsequently contacted Tom Hanks to consider playing the role of Walt Disney, which would become the first-ever depiction of Disney in a mainstream film. Travers, after the studio was unable to secure Meryl Streep for the part. She'd had a very rough childhood, the alcoholism of her father being part of it and the attempted suicide of her mother being another part of it.

I think that she spent her whole life in a state of fundamental inconsolability and hence got a lot done. Novak , and Ruth Wilson were cast in July With Disney's backing, the production team was given access to 36 hours of Travers' audio recordings of herself, the Shermans, and co-writer Don DaGradi that were produced during the development of Mary Poppins , [32] in addition to letters written between Disney and Travers from the s through the s.

Sherman also worked on the film as a music supervisor and shared his side of his experiences working with Travers on Mary Poppins. Principal photography began in September in Los Angeles. Emma Thompson prepared for her role by studying Travers' own recordings conducted during the development of Mary Poppins , and also styled her natural hair after Travers', due to the actress's disdain for wigs. Novak worked closely with Richard M.

Sherman during pre-production and filming. Sherman described the actors as "perfect talents" for their roles as himself and his brother, Robert. Thomas Newman composed the film's original score. And that was fun, but also musically challenging. Banks depicts several events that differ from recorded accounts.

Travers to hand over the film rights , including the scene when he finally persuades her—is fictionalized, as Disney had already secured the film rights subject to Travers' approval of the script when Travers arrived to consult with the Disney staff. The film also depicts Travers coming to amicable terms with Disney, implying her approval of his changes to the story. Travers had initially not been invited to the film's premiere, until she "embarrassed" a Disney executive into extending her an invitation; this is depicted in the film as coaxing Disney himself.

After the premiere, she reportedly approached Disney and told him that the animated sequences had to be removed. Disney dismissed her request, saying, "Pamela, the ship has sailed. Although the film portrays Travers as being emotionally moved during the premiere of Mary Poppins [69] —overlaid with images of her childhood, which is implied to be attributed to her feelings about her father—co-screenwriter Kelly Marcel and several critics note that in real life, Travers' show of emotion was actually a result of anger and frustration over the final product.

English writer Brian Sibley found Travers still gun-shy from her experiences with Disney when he was hired in the s to write a possible Mary Poppins sequel. Sibley reported that Travers told him, "I could only agree if I could do it on my own terms.

I'd have to work with someone I trust. The film also depicts Travers' Aunt Ellie her mother's sister , who comes to help the family when her father becomes terminally ill, as Travers' model for Mary Poppins, with her even using several of Poppins' catchphrases from the film.

In fact, Travers identified her great aunt Helen Morehead her mother's aunt , as the model for Poppins. Banks held its world premiere at the London Film Festival on October 20, Banks for Academy Awards consideration.

Banks received positive reviews from film critics, with major praise directed to the acting; particularly Thompson, Hanks, and Farrell's performances. The site's critical consensus reads, "Aggressively likable and sentimental to a fault, Saving Mr.

Banks pays tribute to the Disney legacy with excellent performances and sweet, high-spirited charm. Leslie Felprin of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as an "affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances. Travers with an authority that makes you wonder how anybody else could ever have been considered. The Washington Post 's Ann Hornaday rated the film three out of four stars, writing: Banks doesn't always straddle its stories and time periods with the utmost grace.

Scott gave a positive review, declaring the film as "an embellished, tidied-up but nonetheless reasonably authentic glimpse of the Disney entertainment machine at work. Mark Kermode writing for The Observer awarded the film four out of five stars, lauding Thompson's performance as "impeccable", elaborating that "Thompson dances her way through Travers' conflicting emotions, giving us a fully rounded portrait of a person who is hard to like but impossible not to love.

Each withering put-down, every jaundiced utterance, lands with a little ping. Alonso Duralde of TheWrap described the film as a "whimsical, moving and occasionally insightful tale David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph described the confrontational interaction between Thompson and Hanks as "terrific", singling out Thompson's "bravura performance", and calling the film itself "smart, witty entertainment".

The film did receive some criticism. Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent gave the film a mixed review, writing: Banks which was developed by BBC Films and has a British producer is a probing, insightful character study with a very dark undertow.

On the other, it is a cheery, upbeat marketing exercise in which the Disney organization is re-promoting one of its most popular film characters. But this has the self-conscious whiff, if not of mendacity, then of public relations. Banks is ultimately much less about magic than making the sale, in more ways than one. Banks was nominated for several awards and earned accolades from various organizations, critics' groups and circles, particularly in recognition of Emma Thompson.

The film received a Best Original Score nomination at the 86th Academy Awards , where—despite not earning a nomination—the film was widely considered by pundits to be a front-runner for Best Picture and Best Actress. Banks was named by the American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Banks Theatrical release poster. Kelly Marcel Sue Smith.

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Some of the NTSB's employees have been sent home. Users can also set this for 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks and 1 month. Do you need a work permit? Fish and Wildlife Service. Could I take your name and number, please? Now, it faces a possible American financial collapse that would drag it down, too. It maintained its forecast for its own potash shipments at between 8. The decline was driven by lower spending by financial institution clients and loss of market share due to poor execution on a series of upgrades to its Eikon integrated desktops.

YTD the stock is roughly flat vs. Lots of useful door prizes, too. The Channel 4 newsreader sent viewers an email on Thursday with the headline: I'm in a band http: A heroic history, some great gear, and that interesting Bedrock business model: I'm sorry, I'm not interested http: But, maybe there is little advantage to this. If there is a benefit to using one manufacturer, it would be helpful to know that.

Does it make any difference if it is Android vs. Or else Earth Humans are descended from them, though this raises troublesome questions about chimpanzees. Perhaps because of these awkward issues, Aliens with Forehead Ridges have become much less common in written SF save for media tie-ins than they were some decades ago. This is for an obvious reason: One of the first ways in which we learn to classify objects is into two groups: In casual encounters with the material universe, we rarely feel any difficulty here, since we usually deal with things that are clearly alive, such as a dog or a rattlesnake; or with things that are clearly nonalive, such as a brick or a typewriter.

Nevertheless, the task of defining "life" is both difficult and subtle; something that at once becomes evident if we stop to think. Consider a caterpillar crawling over a rock. The caterpillar is alive, but the rock is not; as you guess at once, since the caterpillar is moving and the rock is not. Yet what if the caterpillar were crawling over the trunk of a tree? The trunk isn't moving, yet it is as alive as the caterpillar.

Or what if a drop of water were trickling down the trunk of the tree? The water in motion would not be alive, but the motionless tree trunk would be. It would be expecting much of anyone to guess that an oyster were alive if he came across one for the first time with a closed shell.

Could a glance at a clump of trees in midwinter, when all are standing leafless, easily distinguish those which are alive and will bear leaves in the spring from those which are dead and will not? Is it easy to tell a live seed from a dead seed, or either from a grain of sand? For that matter, is it always easy to tell whether a man is merely unconscious or quite dead? Modern medical advances are making it a matter of importance to decide the moment of actual death, and that is not always easy.

Nevertheless, what we call "life" is sufficiently important to warrant an attempt at a definition. We can begin by listing some of the things that living things can do, and nonliving things cannot do, and see if we end up with a satisfactory distinction for this particular twofold division of the Universe. A living thing shows the capacity for independent motion against a force. A drop of water trickles downward, but only because gravity is pulling at it; it isn't moving "of its own accord.

Living things that seem to be motionless overall, nevertheless move in part. An oyster may lie attached to its rock all its adult life, but it can open and close its shell. Furthermore, it sucks water into its organs and strains out food, so that there are parts of itself that move constantly.

Plants, too, can move, turning their leaves to the sun, for instance; and there are continuous movements in the substance making it up. A living thing can sense and it can respond adaptively. That is, it can become aware, somehow, of some alteration in its environment, and will then produce an alteration in itself that will allow it to continue to live as comfortably as possible.

To give a simple example, you may see a rock coming toward you and will quickly duck to avoid a collision of the rock with your head. Analogously, plants can sense the presence of light and water and can respond by extending roots toward the water and stems toward the light. Even very primitive life forms, too small to see with the unaided eye, can sense the presence of food or of danger; and can respond in such a way as to increase their chances of meeting the first and of avoiding the second.

The response may not be a successful one; you may not duck quickly enough to avoid the rock—but it is the attempt that counts. A living thing metabolizes.

By this we mean that it can eventually convert material from its environment into its own substance. The material may not be fit for use to begin with, so it must be broken apart, moistened, or otherwise treated. It may have to be subjected to chemical change so that large and complex chemical units molecules are converted into smaller, simpler ones.

Anything which is left over, or not usable, is then eliminated. The different phases of this process are sometimes given separate names: A living thing grows. As a result of the metabolic process, it can convert more and more of its environment into itself, becoming larger as a result.

A living thing reproduces. It can, by a variety of methods, produce new living things like itself. Any object which possesses all these abilities would seem to be clearly alive; and any object which possesses none of them is clearly nonalive. Yet the situation is not at all clear-cut. An adult human being no longer grows and many individuals never have children, but we still consider them alive even though they no longer grow and do not reproduce.

Well, growth takes place at some time in life and the capacity for reproduction is potentially there. A moth senses a flame and responds, but not adaptively; it flies into the flame and dies. Ah, but the response is ordinarily adaptive, for it is toward the light.

The open flame is an exceptional condition. A seed does not move, or seem to sense and respond—yet give it the proper conditions and it will suddenly begin to grow. The germ of life is there, even though dormant. On the other hand, crystals in solution grow, and new crystals form. A thermostat in a house senses temperature and responds adaptively by preventing that temperature from rising too high or falling too low.

Then there is fire, which may be considered as eating its fuel, breaking it down to simpler substances, converting it into its own flaming structure, and eliminating the ash which it can't use. The flame moves constantly and, as we know, it can easily grow and reproduce itself, sometimes with catastrophic results. We must therefore look at the properties of life more deeply, and the key lies in something stated earlier: There are two types of changes: Changes that increase entropy take place spontaneously; that is, they will "just happen by themselves.

Changes that decrease entropy do not take place spontaneously. They will occur only through the influx of energy from some source. Thus, a rock can be pushed uphill; water can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen again by an electric current; a spring can be tightened by muscular action, and iron rust can be smelted back to iron, given sufficient heat.

The entropy decrease is more than balanced by the entropy increase in the energy source, but that is beside the point here. In general, we are usually safe in supposing that any change which is produced against a resisting force, or any change that alters something relatively simple to something relatively complex, or that alters something relatively disorderly to something relatively orderly, decreases entropy, and that none of these changes will take place spontaneously.

Yet the actions most characteristic of living things tend to involve a decrease in entropy. Living motion is very often against the pull of gravity and of other resisting forces. Metabolism, on the whole, tends to build complex molecules out of simple ones.

This is all done at the expense of energy drawn from the food or, ultimately, from sunlight, and the total entropy change in the system including food or the sun is an increase. Nevertheless, the local change, involving the living creature directly, is an entropy decrease. Crystal growth, on the other hand, is a purely spontaneous effect, involving entropy increase. It is no more a sign of life than is the motion of water trickling down a tree trunk.

Similarly, all the chemical and physical changes in a fire involve entropy increase. We become safer, then, if we define life as the property displayed by those objects which can—either actually or potentially, either in whole or in part—move, sense, and respond, metabolize, grow, and reproduce in such a way as to decrease its entropy store. Since one sign of decreasing entropy is increasing organization that is, an increasing number of component parts interrelated in increasingly complex fashion , it is not surprising that living objects generally are more highly organized than their nonliving surroundings.

The substance making up even the most primitive life form is far more variegated and complexly interrelated than the substance making up even the most complicated mineral.

What about life forms radically different from ours, based on altogether different kinds of chemistry, living in completely hostile to us environments?

Could there conceivably be a silicon-based life, in place of our own carbon-based one, on a hot planet like Mercury? Could there be an ammonia-based life, in place of our own water-based one, on a cold planet like Jupiter?

For that matter, we may be facing such a necessary broadening of the definition right here on Earth in the near future. For some time now, men have been building machines that can more and more closely imitate the action of living things. These include not merely objects that can imitate physical manipulations as when electric eyes see us coming and open a door for us but also objects that can imitate men's mental activities.

We have computers that do more than merely compute; they translate Russian, play chess, and compose music. Will there come a point when machines will be complex enough and flexible enough to reproduce the properties of life so extensively that it will become necessary to wonder if they are alive? If so, we will have to bow to the facts. We will have to ignore cells and DNA and ask only: What can this thing do? And if it can play the role of life, we will have to call it living.

Our main point is that for many modern readers, a violation of the laws of thermodynamics by the author can spoil a story just as effectively as having Abraham Lincoln changing a set of spark plugs in a historical novel. Therefore, if we travel to Mars in a story, the vehicle must operate either along physical laws we currently think we know, or at least on more or less convincing extrapolations of those laws.

Furthermore, when we get there the Martians, not to mention their lapdogs, saddle horses, dinner steaks, and rheumatism, must not strike too jarring a set of notes against the background which author and reader are, it is to be hoped, visualizing together. It is permissible and even desirable to take the reader by surprise with some of these details, of course. Even in this narrowed realm, there would seem to be two basic lines of procedure for the storyteller who needs nonhuman characters and other extraterrestrial life forms.

The two are not mutually exclusive; they overlap heavily in many ways. In the first case, the qualities of the various life forms have to a considerable extent already been determined; they are demanded by the story events.

In other words, if the savages of Fomalhaut VII are going to kidnap the heroine by air, they must be able to fly with the weight of a human being. If the hero is going to escape from a welded-shut steel safe with the aid of his friend from Regulus IV, the friend must be able either to break or dissolve the steel, or perhaps get into and out of such spaces via the fourth dimension.

These are part of the starting situation for the author, who must assume that the creations of his intellect do have the requisite powers.

If he is really conscientious or worries greatly about being laughed at by scientific purists he will also have in the background an ecological system where these powers are of general use and which contains other creatures whose behavior and abilities fit into the same picture.

Perhaps the air is denser, or the gravity weaker, or native muscle more efficient and powerful. Ordinary evolution will have been affected by the fact that flight by larger animals is possible, so there will be a much wider range of large flying organisms than we know on Earth. There will be carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. There will be a wide range of attack and defense systems among these beings. In short, there will be more ecological niches available to large flyers, and it may be confidently expected that evolution will fill them.

Of course there will be limits, just as on Earth. Vertebrates have been flying for nearly two hundred million years, which for most of the forms involved means about the same number of generations; but we have no supersonic birds on this planet. It is the evident existence of these limits which forces the author to assume a difierent set of conditions on the Fomalhaut planet.

Similarly, fourth-dimensional extrusion will have to be general on Regulus IV, and the local ecology will reflect the fact. There will be hide-and-seek techniques among predators and prey essentially incomprehensible to human beings, and therefore a tremendous challenge to the imagination and verbal skill of the writer.

If fourth-dimensional extrusion is not the answer chosen, then the ability to dissolve iron may have developed—which implies that free iron exists on the planet under circumstances that make the ability to dissolve it a useful one. There is, of course, a limit to the time any author can spend working out such details. Even I, a spare-time writer who seldom saddles himself with deadlines, spend some of that spare time writing the story itself.

It is neither possible nor desirable to do everything for him. In this first line of attack, the time and effort to be spent on detail work are reasonably limited. Even the second line, which is my favored technique, has its limits in this respect. However, it does encourage the author to spend longer in the beginning at the straight slide-rule work.

As it happens, I get most of the fun out of working out the physical and chemical nature of a planet or solar system, and then dreaming up life forms which might reasonably evolve under such conditions.

The story obviously, as some critics have been known to remark comes afterward. My excuse for using this general technique, if one is needed, is twofold. First, I find it more fun. This will carry smaller weight for the author who is writing for a living. Second, it is not unusual for the nature of the planet and its life forms, once worked out, to suggest story events or even an entire plot line which would never otherwise have occurred to me. I do have to admit that realism, or at least consistency, is a prime consideration with me; and as I implied some pages back with the Abraham Lincoln metaphor, even the most fantastic story can jar the most tolerant reader if the inconsistency is crude enough—anachronism is only one form of inconsistency.

This sort of realism in life design has to be on at least two levels: It is true that we do not yet know all the details of how even the simplest life forms work. It is still defensible to build for story purposes a creature that drinks hydrazine, and say that no one can prove this impossible. Beyond a certain point, however, I have to dismiss this as ducking out the easy way—sometimes justifiable for storytelling purposes, but jarring on the scientific sensibility. Some facts of life are very well known indeed, and to contradict them, a very good excuse and very convincing logic are needed.

For example, any life form converts energy from one form to another. On our own planet, the strongest and most active creatures use the oxygen in the atmosphere to convert food materials to carbon dioxide and water. The chemical reactions supply the needed energy.

Obviously, the available oxygen would be quickly used up if there were not some other set of reactions to break down the water and carbon dioxide actually it's the water, on this planet to replace what is exhausted. It takes as much energy actually more must be supplied, since no reaction is completely efiicient to break up a molecule into its elements as is released by forming it from these elements, and any ecological system must have a long-term energy base.

On this planet, as is common knowledge, the base is sunlight. Aquarium suppliers are perfectly justified in selling air pumps; they are not exploiting the innocent fish-fanciers. Substitutes for free oxygen in energy-releasing reactions are perfectly possible chemically, and as far as anyone can tell should be possible biologically indeed, some Earthly life forms do use other reactions.

There is no chemical need for these substitutes even to be gases; but if the story calls for a nonhuman character to be drowned or strangled, obvious gaseous candidates are fluorine and chlorine.

The former can run much more energetic reactions than even oxygen, while chlorine compares favorably with the gas we are all hooked on.

That last seems a justified assumption about the present readers. If it is wrong, please come and introduce yourself!

Neither chlorine nor fluorine occurs free on this planet; but, as pointed out already, neither would oxygen if earthly life were not constantly replenishing it by photosynthesis. It has been pointed out that both these gases are odd-numbered elements and therefore in shorter universal supply than oxygen.

Breaking down ten percent or so of the ocean salt would do the trick. Present-day biological engineering is probably not quite up to this job yet, but if you want to use the idea in a story be my guest. As mentioned, there is no chemical reason why the energy-producing reactants have to include gases at all. Oxidizing a pound of sugar with nitric acid will yield more energy than oxidizing the same pound with oxygen if this seems improbable at first glance, remember the bond energy of the N 2 molecule which is one of the products of the first reaction.

True, raw concentrated nitric acid is rather hard on most if not all Terrestrial tissues; but we do handle hydrochloric acid—admittedly in rather dilute form in spite of the antacid-tablet ads—in our own digestive systems. I see little difiiculty in dreaming up a being able to store and utilize strong oxidizers in its system.

The protective mucus our own stomachs use is only one of the possibilities. Many chemical sources of energy are therefore possible in principle for our life forms; but one should be reasonably aware of the chemistry involved.

Water or iron oxide would not be good fuels under any reasonable circumstances; there are admittedly some energy-yielding reactions involving these, but they call for special and unlikely reactants like sodium or fluorine—and if those reactants are around, we could get much more energy by using them on other substances.

To get more fundamental, sunlight is not the only conceivable energy base for an ecological pyramid. It is, however, by far the most likely, assuming the planet in question has a sun. Remember, the energy source must not only be quantitatively large enough; it must be widely available in both space and time, so that life can originate and evolve to complex forms.

Radioactivity and raw volcanic heat are both imaginable, but the first demands rather unusual conditions if much of it is to be on hand. Vulcanism, if Earth is a fair example, tends to be restricted in space at any one time and in time at any one location, a discouraging combination.

Also, radioactive energy in its most direct form comes in high-energy quanta, furnishing an additional complication to the molecular architecture problem to be considered next. It seems pretty certain that life, as well as needing energy, must be of complex structure. It has to do too many things for a simple machine. An organism must be able to absorb the chemicals needed for its energy, and carry out at the desired rate the reactions which they undergo.

It must develop and repair its own structure immortal, invulnerable, specially created beings are conceivable, but definitely outside the realm of this discussion. It must reproduce its own structure, and therefore keep on file a complete set of specifications—which must itself be reproducible. Whatever mystical, symbolic, and figurate resemblances there may be between a candle flame and a living creature, the concrete differences between them seem to me to constitute a non-negotiable demand for extreme complexity in the latter.

On Earth, this complexity involves the phosphate-sugar-base polymers called popularly DNA and RNA for specifications, polypeptide and polysaccharide structures for most of the machinery, and—perhaps most fundamentally—the hydrogen bond to provide structural links which can be changed around as needed without the need for temperatures high enough to ruin the main framework.

I see no reason why other carbon compounds could not do the jobs of most of these, though I cannot offhand draw formulas for the alternates. The jobs in general depend on the shapes of the molecules, or perhaps more honestly the shapes of the force fields around them; these could presumably be duplicated closely enough by other substances. We have the fact that on Earth, with silicon many times more plentiful than carbon, life uses the latter.

To be more specific: The smaller carbon atom, able to react with not more than three oxygens at once, was left free to form the water-reactive carbon dioxide gas. True, some Earthly life such as scouring rushes, basket sponges, and foraminifera use silicon compounds in skeletal parts; but not, except in trace amounts, in active life machinery.

This, however, is not much of a science fiction problem. Something like out of every atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms; even Earth, which seems to be one of the most thoroughly dehydrogenated objects in the observable part of space, has all it needs for an extensive collection of life forms. I suspect it will generally be easier for an author to use hydrogen in his homemade life forms than to work out a credible substitute.

To finish with the fundamental-structure level, one must admit that very complex electric and magnetic field structures other than those supplied ready-formed by atoms and molecules are conceivable. Personally I would develop such life forms only if my story demanded of them some ability incompatible with ordinary matter, such as traveling through a telephone wire or existing without protection both in the solar photosphere and a cave on Pluto.

At this point, simple scientific realism fades away, and I must bow out as an expert. The other principal basis for believability of life forms lies in the field of simple mechanics, much more common sense than biochemistry. Whether muscle tissue on Planet X is stronger or weaker than on Earth, muscular effort will be more efiiciently applied by fewer, longer strokes.

Even if the evolutionary background for some reason started off with the ten legs e. On the same general principle, if the creature lives on grass or the local ecological equivalent, it will probably not have much of a brain. In addition to being useful itself, a structure must have been at least slightly useful through its early stages of development; it is hard to believe that a single mutation would produce a completely developed ear, but any ability to sense pressure variations would clearly be useful to an animal.

Similarly with the eye. There are now alive on Earth creatures with light-sensitive organs ranging from the simple red spot of the single-celled Euglena, through pinhole cameras with complex retinas some cephalopods , to the lens-and-iris-equipped diffraction-limited organ of most mammals and birds, complete with automatic focusing.

There are also examples of parallel evolution which were good enough to help their owners survive all the way along the route: But eyes and ears are hardly original enough for a really imaginative science fiction story.

What other long-range senses might an organism evolve? Could an intelligent species develop without any such sense? How, if at all, could sighted and hearing human beings communicate with it?

The first question at least can be partially answered without recourse to mysticism. Magnetic fields do exist, as do electric ones. Certainly some creatures can sense the latter directly you can yourself, for that matter; bring your hand close to a highly charged object and feel what happens to the fine hairs on your skin.

Sound is already used in accordance with its limitations, as is scent. It is a little hard to envision what could be detected by a magnetic sense, and how its possessor would imagine the universe. Most substances on this planet have practically no effect on a magnetic field, and this is what makes me a little doubtful about the birds mentioned above.

I can see the use of such a sense in navigation for a migratory species, but I have trouble thinking through its evolutionary development. Perhaps on a planet with widely distributed ferromagnetic material, the location of which is of life-and-death importance to the life forms, it would happen; maybe our Regulus IV character who can dissolve iron needs it for biochemical reasons.

The important point, from which we may have been wandering a trifle, is not whether I can envision such a situation in detail, but whether the author of the story can do so, and thereby avoid having to invent ad hoc a goose which lays golden eggs. If the life form in question has hearing but no sight, all right; but it should not be able to thread a needle with the aid of sonic perception.

Sound waves short enough to have that kind of resolving power would demand a good deal of energy to produce, would have very poor range in air, and would incidentally be decidedly dangerous to human explorers.

Of course, a story could be built on the unfortunate consequences of the rnen who were mowed down by what they thought must be a death ray, when the welcoming committee was merely trying to take a good look….

Sound does have the advantage of being able to diffract around obstacles, so that straight-line connection is not needed; light that is, light visible to human beings is of such short wavelength that diffraction efiects are minor. On Earth, we both eat and keep this particular piece of cake, since we have evolved both sight and hearing.

Scent seems to have all the disadvantages and none of the advantages, as a long-range sense. However, under special circumstances even a modified nose may fill the need. The local sense organs were basically pinhole cameras, with the retinal mosaic formed of olfactory cells. Since the beings in question were not intelligent, the question of what sort of universe they believed in did not arise.

Granting the intelligence, it would have been—would still be, indeed—interesting to work out their cosmology. Naturally, the first few hours are spent wondering whether and how they could fill the intellectual gaps imposed by their lack of sight and hearing.

Then, of course, the intelligent speculator starts wondering what essential details are missing from our concept of the universe, because of our lack of the sense of you name it. This, for what my opinion is worth, is one of the best philosophical excuses for the practice of science fiction—if an excuse is needed.

The molecule-seers presumably lack all astronomical data; what are we missing? The human species has, as a matter of fact, done a rather impressive job of overcoming its sensory limitations, though I see no way of ever being sure when the job is done. Philosophy aside, there are many more details of shape to be considered for nonhuman beings.

Many of the pertinent factors have been pointed out by other writers, such as L. DeCamp reached the conclusion that an intelligent life form would have to wind up not grossly different in structure from a human being—carrying its sense organs high and close to the brain, having a limited number of limbs with a minimum number of these specialized for locomotion and the others for manipulation, having a rigid skeleton, and being somewhere between an Irish terrier and a grizzly bear in size.

The lower size limits was set by the number of cells needed for a good brain, and the upper one by the bulk of body which could be handled by a brain without overspecialization. Sprague admitted both his estimates to be guesses, but I have seen no more convincing ones since. Whenever I have departed greatly from his strictures in my own stories, I have always felt the moral need to supply an excuse, at least to myself. The need for an internal skeleton stems largely from the nature of muscle tissue, which can exert force only by contracting and is therefore much more effective with a good lever system to work with.

If any experienced scuba divers wish to dispute this matter of taste, go right ahead. I admit that so far, thank goodness, I am working from theory on this specific matter. This leads to a point which should be raised in any science fiction essay.

I have made a number of quite definite statements in the preceding pages, and will make several more before finishing this chapter. Anyone with the slightest trace of intelligent critical power can find a way around most of these dicta by setting up appropriate situations. Mission of Gravity complicated the size and speed issue by variable gravity. If no one has the urge, imagination, and knowledge to kick specific holes in the things I say here, my favorite form of relaxation is in danger of going out with a whimper.

If someone takes exception to the statement that muscles can only pull, by all means do something about it. We know a good deal about Earthly muscle chemistry these days; maybe a pushing cell could be worked out. I suspect it would need a very strong cell wall, but why not? Have fun with the idea. If you can make it plausible, you will have destroyed at a stroke many of the currently plausible engineering limitations to the shapes and power of animals.

I could list examples for the rest of my available pages, but you should have more fun doing it yourself. Most authors seem to have learned that it is extremely hard to invent anything stranger than some of the life forms already on our planet, and many writers as a result have taken to using either these creatures as they are, or modifying them in size and habit, or mixing them together.

The last, in particular, is not a new trick; the sphinx and hippogriff have been with us for some time. With our present knowledge, though, we have to be careful about the changes and mixtures we make. Pegasus , for example, will have to remain mythological. Also, the horse would have to extract a great deal more energy than it does from its hay diet to power the flight muscles even if it could find room for them in an equine anatomy.

Actually, the realization that body engineering and life-style are closely connected is far from new. There is a story about Baron Cuvier , a naturalist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

It seems that one night his students decided to play a practical joke, and one of them dressed up in a conglomeration of animal skins, including that of a deer. I am going to eat you! You have horns and hooves. The trick of magnifying a normal creature to menacing size is all too common.

The giant amoeba is a familar example; monster insects or whole populations of them even more so. Things like strength of muscle and rate of chemical and heat exchange with the environment depend on surface or cross-section area, and change with the square of linear size; Swift's Brobdingnagians would therefore have a hundred times the strength and oxygen intake rate of poor Gulliver.

It seems unlikely that they could have stood, much less walked can you support ten times your present weight? This is why a whale, though an air breather, suffocates if he runs ashore; he lacks the muscular strength to expand his chest cavity against its own weight. That is, unless they had to spend too much time in eating to offset their excessive losses of body heat…. There seems reason to believe that at least with Earthly biochemistry, the first and last of these weaknesses do not favor intelligence.

A rather similar factor operates against the idea of having a manlike creature get all his energy from sunlight, plant style.

This was covered years ago by V. Of course, we can get around some of this by hypothesizing a hotter, closer sun, with all the attendant complications of higher planet temperature. This is fun to work out, and some of us do it, but remember that a really basic change of this sort affects everything in the ecological pyramid sitting on that particular energy base—in other words, all the life on the planet.

It may look from all this as though a really careful and conscientious science fiction writer has to be a junior edition of the Almighty. Things are not really this bad. I mentioned one way out a few pages ago in admitting there is a limit to the detail really needed. The limit is set not wholly by time, but by the fact that too much detail results in a Ph. I must admit that some of us do have this failing, which has to be sharply controlled by editors. Work out your world and its creatures as long as it remains fun; then Write your story, making use of any of the details you have worked out which help the story.

Write off the rest of the development work as something which built your own background picture—the stage setting, if you like—whose presence in your mind will tend to save you from the more jarring inconsistencies I use this word, very carefully, rather than errors. Remember, though, that among your readers there will be some who enjoy carrying your work farther than you did. They will find inconsistencies which you missed; depend on it. Part of human nature is the urge to let the world know how right you were, so you can expect to hear from these people either directly or through fanzine pages.

Even if he is right and you are wrong, he has demonstrated unequivocally that you succeeded as a storyteller. You gave your audience a good time. Wikipedia has a nice article on Hypothetical types of biochemistry. He points out some other possibilities. Note that the "temperature" column has the information needed to set the borders of a solar system's circumstellar habitable zone for that particular biochemistry. Temperatures assume the planet has about 1 atmosphere worth of pressure.

Life on Terra is based on Carbon, since carbon can join with not one, not two, not even three, but a whopping four other atoms. This allows the construction of complex molecules like proteins and DNA, a requirement for living creatures. The only other element that can do this is Silicon, so the SF writers seized it. They are also fond of harping on the fact that while most carbon-based animals on Terra exhale gaseous carbon dioxide, a poor silicon-based critter would breath out silicon dioxide, i.

In "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum is a silicon life creature that "exhales" bricks of silicon dioxide, which it uses to build a pyramid around itself. Other chemical elements that are not impossible as the basis for alien life forms include ammonia , boron , nitrogen , and phosphorus.

There are even more extreme possibilities. There are several possibilities for the composition of alien blood. An example of electronic life is the superconducting mentality in Sir Arthur C. Clarke's " Crusade ". Their "bodies" are organized clusters of millions of tiny whirlpools in still ponds. Another odd one was the Monolith Monsters.

They were not invading aliens so much as an extraterrestrial chemical reaction. Radiotrophic fungi are fungi which appear to perform radiosynthesis , that is, to use the pigment melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy for growth. This proposed mechanism may be similar to anabolic pathways for the synthesis of reduced organic carbon e. However, whether melanin-containing fungi employ a similar multi-step pathway as photosynthesis, or some chemosynthesis pathways, is unknown.

Radiotrophic fungi were discovered in growing inside and around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that three melanin-containing fungi— Cladosporium sphaerospermum , Wangiella dermatitidis , and Cryptococcus neoformans —increased in biomass and accumulated acetate faster in an environment in which the radiation level was times higher than in the normal environment. Similar effects on melanin electron-transport capability were observed by the authors after exposure to non-ionizing radiation, suggesting that melanotic fungi might also be able to use light or heat radiation for growth.

However, melanization may come at some metabolic cost to the fungal cells: Limited uptake of nutrients due to the melanin molecules in the fungal cell wall or toxic intermediates formed in melanin biosynthesis have been suggested to contribute to this phenomenon. It is consistent with the observation that despite being capable of producing melanin, many fungi do not synthesize melanin constitutively i.

The exact biochemical processes in the suggested melanin-based synthesis of organic compounds or other metabolites for fungal growth, including the chemical intermediates such as native electron donor and acceptor molecules in the fungal cell and the location and chemical products of this process, are unknown.

They get along like chalk and cheese. Very like chalk and cheese, really.

a horrifying inquiry, with pictures and Benjamin Franklin

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