Hot answers tagged

248

Fran is a naturally subterranean boring worm-like creature. Her cilia enable her to move forward and rotate. On her homeworld, the tunnels are bored with ridges or grooves that serve as affordances for forward locomotion, allowing her species to progress along the intended direction of the tunnel (forward) more easily (and conversely, making it more ...


92

Your brain receives more information than you can handle all the time. For instance, right now, your entire computer screen is within your field of view but you're ignoring all but a word or so of it at a time. So the (rather boring) answer is that nothing unusual happens when you receive more information than you can process because it's the absolutely ...


90

There are a few languages on earth that don't have words for relative direction. Instead of they use absolute the directions North, South, East, and West to describe the positioning of things. For example; speakers of these languages when facing East, would refer to their "North foot" and "South foot", and if they turned 90 degrees would refer to their "East ...


41

How about the rationality of object persistence? She doesn't have to know left from right; she knows the lemonade stand exists and will continue to exist if it is out of her sight. Infants know this within a few months. Thus: Turn. Left or right, randomly chosen, does not matter. If the lemonade stand is no longer visible; rationality tells you it is behind ...


21

If it quacks like a duck... Have you heard of The Duck Test, or so called Duck Typing? The Duck Test is a type of abductive reasoning, and it works like this: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. ...in other words the appearance and behavior of something determines what we say it is. Now ...


19

How close have you ever stood to an operational nuclear reactor? I've been within about 20 feet of at least two different ones. It sounds like boring, heavy piles of shielding and maybe you sort of hear the coolant pumps through the hull. If you want to get into the physics, I can do that, but to keep it light hearted, the saying is 'hot rock make boat go'. ...


19

I suggest rings. As I understand, you want a solution that does not depend on the anatomy of the creature. Although I am taking some assumptions that I hope you find reasonable: They are land dwelling. No flying, no digging, no swimming, at least not without tools. They have eyesight. They have some level of intelligence, enough to recognize other ...


19

Yes. Squids and humans make a good example here...actually there are a huge number of creatures that arrived at the same eye despite diverging long ago. https://www.popsci.com/article/science/how-humans-and-squid-evolved-have-same-eyes The most important of master control genes implicated in making eyes is called Pax6. The ancestral Pax6 gene probably ...


17

Turn towards the thing you want. If you don't see it, keep turning, you'll see it eventually. Now, it's in front of you. No problem. Walk forward. A species like this would constantly be orienting itself towards the things it wants. There would be constant spinning. Perhaps even an evolutionary tendency towards pirouetting in place, until they see what ...


16

X-Rays are not death rays. Yes, they are (or at least can be) high-energy radiation, but at low levels they can still be detectable without "cooking" anyone or anything. In fact, at this very moment (unless you're sitting your lead-lined radiation shelter), you are being bathed in X-Rays that are the result of the background cosmic radiation interacting ...


16

I remember a story about aliens that had such a sense of smell, and the society was well developed with that in mind. Holding hands was intimate, as everyone would know you were touching. One plot point concerned a substance smuggled in somewhere. The humans point out that they could not have done it because they could not make a smell-proof container and ...


12

Why would receptors reacting to infrared be any different than those reacting to other wavelengths? Some humans are color-blind. They lack one or more types of cones, meaning they don't perceive that color at all (or in some rare cases, no color at all being completely monochromatic perceiving a purely grey world). Some humans are tetrachromatic (they have ...


11

An animal that has poor/nonexistent vision would still understand spacial relationships, so it would be a "map" as we understand it. It would record points of interest and features, not just what they smell like but what they are. When we see a "river" on a map it is not a picture of water, and a waterway may look any number of ways. We recognize a ...


10

I think the answer is we do not know for sure. It seems brain has more capacity to store information that we can get in our lifetime. I think our retrieval system is not perfect so we cannot access the information stored in our brain. There are proven instances of people who can recall huge amount of information that is fed to their brain (see Kim Peek). ...


10

Fran doesn't have any sense of direction and can't distinguish right from left or north from east etc.. To compensate that she however has developed a perfect sense of height. She always knows at which altitude she is. The City Their city is built in a spiral that goes from ground floor on the outside the top in the middle. So that the city looks like the ...


9

You are asking this as if it were a hypothetical. Humans have evolved a culture where you simply don't rely on your sense of smell. Smells are bad, and noticing smells is impolite. Smoke and perfume are employed in mindboggling amounts and people shower all the time so that you cannot identify people by the composition of the sour-salty smell of their ...


9

They wouldn't as the species would have long ago gone extinct from extensive starvation. As stated the species cannot feed itself, it can't find food reliably because it cannot navigate nor control its own movement. As described it cannot change direction to seek food even if it can perceive it. It must rely on pure chance to happen to physically encounter ...


9

Every answer I see here violate, in some manner, the question being asked. Fran is stated as not being able to tell East from West as well as Left from Right. That is, if Fran is pointed East she is unable to distinguish this from being pointed West (other than what is directly in front or behind, due to some concept of "vision"). Ergo I think I know what ...


9

Fran is of a rather pitiful species that has been under a lot of specialized evolutionary pressure by an apex predator. In response, her species has developed the gift of 360° vision and total awareness that we humans can only understand, if proficient in artificial neural networks: See, there are perceptive neural networks that can tell you everything that'...


9

I believe your analogy is flawed. The situation these aliens would find them in is not akin to us humans being in the dark, it's more like us humans in an overly bright situation. What do we do when there's too much light? When there's too much noise? We artificially dampen our senses. We hold our hand over our eyes to reduce incoming sunlight, we wear ...


8

I very much doubt that a animal that cant see a map would be able to make one. There are far more efficient ways of navigation for a animal that relies on smell. A map that relies on smell would have too many similar areas of overlapping smell, none of which would be particularly unique. like this: This would be hard to understand. though it may be useful ...


8

I doubt that a scent map could be accurate enough, for long enough, to be viable. Think about it, most scents are somewhat impermanent: the flora will change seasonally, scent patterns will change dramatically with even a slight breeze, not to mention that even on a temporary map everything would be represented by an amorphous gradient. Represented ...


8

Depends if you're writing for TV or a book. On TV, you are pressed for time and would typically be observing the reaction from outside. Then something dramatic, resembling an epileptic seizure with their hair catching on fire is appropriate. You can also go with the matrix-style download, where seizure is followed by a sudden revelation. In a science ...


8

Nothing, humans already have an excellent (if underused) sense of smell. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/11/not-to-be-sniffed-at-human-sense-of-smell-rivals-that-of-dogs-says-study In the latest paper, published in Science, McGann points out that in absolute terms the human olfactory bulb is bigger than in many mammals and a literature ...


7

This is harder than the sound question you posted. The trick with vision is that it is much higher bandwidth, so there's far more data to sift through. The hard part would be identifying the parts that matter. They would probably have to analyze it as pure mathematical data at first, and do things like cluster analysis. Very rapidly they would find the ...


7

I started to write one answer, and when I went to think of the actual specifics came up with a realization that my answer was wrong because of the nitty gritty of specifics of your example. So I'm going to give two answers, one answering what I think you intended to ask, and one answering what you actually asked; just to cover all my basis. Can Aliens ...


7

Spider Robinson, in his book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telempath did just that. The intended result was to make people unable to tolerate industrial pollution. Among the unintended consequences were (if I recall correctly): People could now smell when somebody was lying if they were in the same airspace; they could smell lying. Sexual honesty was ...


7

On Earth, snakes evolved from lizards mostly via simplifications. The most famous of those is the loss of legs. But the ears were also affected: when lizards actually hear sound in the range 500-4000 Hz (some up to 10000 Hz), snakes typically only respond to vibrations that they feel through they bellies in the 50-1000 Hz range (see here). There's Dollo's ...


7

Blindsight Mechanism Look at the visual processing pipeline. In general, something that's removed or not tagged for later stages will not be noticed, but could be blindsighted by pathways that tap out of the pipeline at earlier stages. So how could this apply to objects, rather than low-level features such as edges and lines? My thought is camouflage. ...


7

Fran's species are a communal burrowing species, but more importantly they're solar navigators which is why she has to be back at the hotel by nightfall or she'd be completely lost. Their two key directions are "towards the light" and "away from the light" *. Their cities are built along a straight line with a large artificial light at one end. Individual "...


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