Author Topic: Scientific Zalanthas  (Read 6786 times)

Hitsuchi

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Scientific Zalanthas
« on: June 25, 2016, 06:00:23 PM »
There are tons of things in Zalanthas, the physical world, that don't make obvious sense or aren't really explained in the docs: Where do plants get their water from? Why are the insects so big? Is Suk-Krath really red, and wouldn't that mean that it should look huge, given that the planet is in the livable zone of it? Where could the Black Moon have come from, really? How do Mekillots actually get enough biomass to eat?

This thread is intended to explore such questions in a completely hypothetical manner, with healthy doses of scientific support where it's needed. I don't imagine this should affect things in-game, where it's often better explained with "magic" anyway, but for those who need it, it might give plausible deniability to these things.

I propose that Zalanthas has an atmosphere of almost 100% oxygen, but less gravity and therefore lower air pressure. This would support giant insects, as Earth has produced at least 70 cm long ones back when we had more than 30% oxygen in the atmosphere. This would be toxic for humans, however, at Earth's air pressure, so we would want pressure to be lower (equal to about 4000-6000 m altitude on Earth). This lessens the ability of insects to absorb oxygen (they don't breathe*, but rather absorb it through lots of tiny tubes called trachea), but might help them grow as gravity does not put as much of a strain on their bodily fluids. The same goes for our vertebrates - less power needed to supply oxygenated blood to brain means larger size is possible.

Potential issues with this theory: fire. Things would burn, a lot.
It might be standard gravity, but about 60% oxygen instead - just barely survivable for humans (any more and our lungs get inflamed and kills us).

* Technically, I read somewhere on the Internet that they breathe a little, but that it's negligible.

Lizzie

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 06:16:42 PM »
I propose that the Black Moon isn't really a moon at all. It's a third sun, created by the power of Muk Utep, but obscured in eternal eclipse by his arch-rival, the equally powerful Tektolnes.

Also how do we explain what is "beyond the Known?" It could very well be that the parts visible via maps are merely islands on a greater planet, surrounded by water (which might explain the source of various pools in assorted locations throughout). Maybe there are entire continents that our characters don't know anything about. Our relative isolation from the "beyond the Known" could mean that there are entire other civilizations out there that all read, write, have metal, maybe even electricity and indoor plumbing.

In fact - they might have satellite TV and are watching our characters live our miserable lives, as some sort of odd hybrid "reality/amazing animals" TV show.
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BrokenRomance

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2016, 06:25:45 PM »
I like this. Let's do this.

Where do plants get their water from?

Why are the insects so big?

Is Suk-Krath really red, and wouldn't that mean that it should look huge, given that the planet is in the livable zone of it?

Where could the Black Moon have come from, really?

How do Mekillots actually get enough biomass to eat?


I think all Zalanthan plants have evolved to be like most desert plant-like, and conserve water in portions of themselves such as roots, shoots, or even flowers.

I personally believe the insects evolved to such size for similar reasons as the plants. I think, and I can't actually prove this, that the larger your mass the more water you can intake. Camels are large creatures and they hold a generous amount of water for themselves, despite the fact that being smaller would suit them for conservation.

I think Suk Krath is red from atmospheric distortion caused by whatever chemical that causes the red sands being heavily prevalent in the upper atmosphere as well. It's also entirely possible to not be bigger and still be close enough for living, our sun isn't a giant fiery ball in the sky as far as I can tell, it looks more like a golf-ball lodged up there that happens to be a 55555555 kilowatt light-bulb most of the time.

I think the black moon is a giant chunk of obsidian in the sky. I don't know why, I just do. It makes sense seeing as the darkest thing we know is obsidian and it'd be an interesting plot for a giant rock of obsidian to be floating around Zalanthas.

I think they do like whales. Consume smaller organisms without even realising it.
All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground
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Yam

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2016, 06:28:03 PM »
There are tons of things in Zalanthas, the physical world, that don't make obvious sense or aren't really explained in the docs: Where do plants get their water from? Why are the insects so big? Is Suk-Krath really red, and wouldn't that mean that it should look huge, given that the planet is in the livable zone of it? Where could the Black Moon have come from, really? How do Mekillots actually get enough biomass to eat?

This thread is intended to explore such questions in a completely hypothetical manner, with healthy doses of scientific support where it's needed. I don't imagine this should affect things in-game, where it's often better explained with "magic" anyway, but for those who need it, it might give plausible deniability to these things.

I propose that Zalanthas has an atmosphere of almost 100% oxygen, but less gravity and therefore lower air pressure. This would support giant insects, as Earth has produced at least 70 cm long ones back when we had more than 30% oxygen in the atmosphere. This would be toxic for humans, however, at Earth's air pressure, so we would want pressure to be lower (equal to about 4000-6000 m altitude on Earth). This lessens the ability of insects to absorb oxygen (they don't breathe*, but rather absorb it through lots of tiny tubes called trachea), but might help them grow as gravity does not put as much of a strain on their bodily fluids. The same goes for our vertebrates - less power needed to supply oxygenated blood to brain means larger size is possible.

Potential issues with this theory: fire. Things would burn, a lot.
It might be standard gravity, but about 60% oxygen instead - just barely survivable for humans (any more and our lungs get inflamed and kills us).

* Technically, I read somewhere on the Internet that they breathe a little, but that it's negligible.

Things get kind of complicated if you start messing with atmospheres. I think a more plausible explanation is that Zalanthan insects have a different respiratory (and probably circulatory) systems than Earth insects.

Miradus

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 07:19:47 PM »
The respiratory system is the cause of water loss in insects so that would be the key.

One could posit that they breath in a chunk of air and then hold it for a long time, processing it very slowly. After it is exhausted they would need to sit still for a time and exhale before drawing in more air.

Not sure where the water in Zalanthas would come from or where it would hide. The most plausible explanation I always go back to is that this is the last century of a worldwide apocalypse before humans go extinct.

BrokenRomance

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2016, 07:26:45 PM »
I'd like to know what causes spice. I mean I sure as Drov haven't seen a Maker, so there can't be any little makers.
All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand, as I scan this wasted land
Trying to find, trying to find where I've been.

nauta

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2016, 07:29:57 PM »
Not sure where the water in Zalanthas would come from or where it would hide. The most plausible explanation I always go back to is that this is the last century of a worldwide apocalypse before humans go extinct.

The answer, as with so many things, is biowizard halflings.  At least according to one strand of Dark Sun lore -- which isn't Zalanthas, but bear with -- there was this thing called the Blue Age:

The Wanderer's Jounal begins with the Edenic Blue age when Athas was once covered with a vast body of life-giving water under a blue sun. Halflings ruled Athas then building a powerful civilization. They were nature-masters and life-shapers, able to produce anything they needed by manipulating the principles of nature itself. While most of the halfiing nature-masters worked in concert with the environment, some attempted to push boundaries in order to make nature bend in ways it was never meant. The Wanderer claims the Blue Age lasted an unspecified amount of time and attempts to see past the Green Age using magic or psionics have been unsuccessful. Regardless, it came to an end by accident. The halfiings of the great city of Tyr’agi tried to increase the sea’s fecundity increase in order to produce more creatures and plants. The experiment failed, however, and the sea became choked with a toxic brown tide that spread across the waters killing everything it touched.

Then, uh, stuff happened, but my point is: there's probably some halflings off somewhere making ponds and stuff and the evaporation from that is enough to sustain what minimal water is needed to keep The Known together.

Totally.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 07:32:10 PM by nauta »
as IF you didn't just have them unconscious, naked, and helpless in the street 4 minutes ago

deathkamon

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2016, 07:34:49 PM »
Do any of you actually think... Could Zalanthas in fact be considered as Mars several billions of years into the future? That would explain why it's just one huge dustbowl, everything is red including the sky, etc.. Why I propose it's in the future is because of how big the sun is, and if there were any polar ice caps on Mars (which there are presently), they would have evaporated/ended up somewhere else.

nauta

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 07:38:46 PM »
One day I want to sail across the Sea of Eternal Dust and end up on the northern edge of the Grey Forest.
as IF you didn't just have them unconscious, naked, and helpless in the street 4 minutes ago

TheWanderer

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 07:50:12 PM »
could you stop reading my journal? wtf
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Jihelu

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 10:14:54 PM »
In Dank sun the sun was red/fucked because of how halfling magick was fucking shit up as far as I know. So if the same is in our game, prob not, we can blame the fucking halflings for how hot it is.


The black moon? I'm just going to go out on a limb and suggest magic.

Why are the insects so big? Because....
Good question.
Biology is hard.
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Chettaman

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2016, 01:59:08 AM »
All of this is speculation. I like this thread.

Plants drink the blood of the fallen? + plants drink magick water?

The sun is close?

Bugs are big because they evolved to be so?

The black moon is really a terrifying mirror reality to zalanthas? Sahtnalaz? SahtNALAZ? + and the event so many years ago allowed "something" to manifest itself in reality. "something" being the black moon.

Meks eat salt worms. That's not speculation.

Spice is just a thing from the silt like chunks of it breaking off bit by bit?
Spice is really the poop of some enormous silt creature self-named Cthulu.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 02:01:26 AM by Chettaman »
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Suhuy

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2016, 03:33:59 AM »
In order for a species like mekillot to thrive in numbers so great every clan chef serves it on the menu (to say nothing of other great beasts like bahamet, or even inix) wouldn't the world have to be absolutely teeming with life? It seems to me it would require an abundance of water and plantlife everywhere, like the tropical environment earth was during the time of the dinosaurs. I don't see how you could support such life forms in the barren wasteland that Zalanthas is meant to be, so I tend to apply a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief in order to explain it.

Though it's fun to speculate :) Cool topic!

Jihelu

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2016, 03:36:58 AM »
The salt flats are big fam.
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Yam

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2016, 03:58:07 AM »
In order for a species like mekillot to thrive in numbers so great every clan chef serves it on the menu (to say nothing of other great beasts like bahamet, or even inix) wouldn't the world have to be absolutely teeming with life? It seems to me it would require an abundance of water and plantlife everywhere, like the tropical environment earth was during the time of the dinosaurs. I don't see how you could support such life forms in the barren wasteland that Zalanthas is meant to be, so I tend to apply a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief in order to explain it.

Though it's fun to speculate :) Cool topic!

Maybe the salt falts are teeming with life... beneath the surface.

Salt worms could feed on infauna beneath the sun-baked surface of the salt flats. Mekillots eat the salt worms. It works.

The only way to have enough primary producers down there is to have a source of hydrothermal energy. The base trophic level probably consists of archaea utilizing some weird but possible metabolic pathways. Coincidentally this is probably what's going on in the Earth's crust (minus salt worms and mekillots).

We already know that the Vrun Driath is volcanically active so our heat source is there. We also know that Allanak has some deep source of water and a sewer system, so I suspect that there's a significant aquifer beneath the southlands as well.

tldr; There is a massive hydrothermal system beneath the Southlands equivalent to Earth's deep, hot biosphere that supports higher forms of life like salt worms and mekillots.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 04:01:21 AM by Yam »

Lizzie

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2016, 09:06:45 AM »
In order for a species like mekillot to thrive in numbers so great every clan chef serves it on the menu (to say nothing of other great beasts like bahamet, or even inix) wouldn't the world have to be absolutely teeming with life? It seems to me it would require an abundance of water and plantlife everywhere, like the tropical environment earth was during the time of the dinosaurs. I don't see how you could support such life forms in the barren wasteland that Zalanthas is meant to be, so I tend to apply a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief in order to explain it.

Though it's fun to speculate :) Cool topic!

Maybe the salt falts are teeming with life... beneath the surface.

Salt worms could feed on infauna beneath the sun-baked surface of the salt flats. Mekillots eat the salt worms. It works.

The only way to have enough primary producers down there is to have a source of hydrothermal energy. The base trophic level probably consists of archaea utilizing some weird but possible metabolic pathways. Coincidentally this is probably what's going on in the Earth's crust (minus salt worms and mekillots).

We already know that the Vrun Driath is volcanically active so our heat source is there. We also know that Allanak has some deep source of water and a sewer system, so I suspect that there's a significant aquifer beneath the southlands as well.

tldr; There is a massive hydrothermal system beneath the Southlands equivalent to Earth's deep, hot biosphere that supports higher forms of life like salt worms and mekillots.


I already alluded to that - plus water sources "beyond the Known" that feed into those aquifers. Also - just as an FYI about animals needing water: most cats, wild and domestic, have low thirst drives. Most of them -will- drink water when it's readily available, but they get the bulk of their hydration needs from the flesh of the animals they consume. That's why a lot of "fanatics" push so vehemently against kibble for cats except as an occasional "kitty treat." So it's absolutely possible for animals on Zalanthas to simply not need water from the same sources that people need it and in fact, it's even possible for people on Zalanthas to need less water than we do here on earth. Remember some fruits in Armageddon -can- restore hydration levels on a limited basis so there's actual game code to support the theory.
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Norcal

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2016, 12:05:05 PM »
Fantasy game ≠ Scientific reality. Some things you just have to run with. The water thing has bugged me for a long time, yet it is what it is.
That is not to say we should not try to make Zalanthas more realistic, yet  we should balance that with FUN.

I often hear the term "low fantasy" being spoke of  recently and how Arm is or is moving towards becoming a low fantasy game.  I know that this probably refers more to magick and Deus ex Machina sort of events, yet I cannot look at a game with giant lizards and insects living in a dry desert and not think it is really high fantasy.

It is for this reason that I have a hard time understanding the need to remove certain things from the game because they don't fit the "low fantasy theme".
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Raptor_Dan

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2016, 12:20:26 PM »
I absolutely love this thread. I don't 'need' a scientific explanation for all the wonders of Zalanathas, but I'm having a blast just considering all of the theories above. The mars thing? I never even thought about that, but as I was reading it I was all, 'Yeah....y-yeaaah....' Kudos to all of you. Now, let me prepare my presentation for a few hours, answering all these questions and more, so I can properly demonstrate how Armageddon is just post-nuclear-fallout Earth. I might get distracted and wander off though, no promises.


Also, I read somewhere that the larger and animal is (above humans) the less calories it has to consume in order to maintain it's body heat, and if body heat is part of the reason we /need/ to consume calories, then Meks should be perfectly natural and consume rather little, out there in one of the hottest places I've ever come across. I'm going to have to research that too.
I'm just looking for a general consensus. Or Moe's opinion. Either one generally can be accepted as canon.

Miradus

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2016, 01:37:55 PM »
Also, I read somewhere that the larger and animal is (above humans) the less calories it has to consume in order to maintain it's body heat, and if body heat is part of the reason we /need/ to consume calories, then Meks should be perfectly natural and consume rather little, out there in one of the hottest places I've ever come across. I'm going to have to research that too.


Generation of body heat is a byproduct of cellular metabolism (particularly glycolysis). All organisms do this, even cold-blooded ones. It's just warm-blooded creatures have internal systems to regulate and maintain that heat.

In hot environments, generating of body heat is more of a problem than a necessary thing. Mechanisms and adaptations to shed excess body heat have to occur or overheating will kill the organism.

Inside every cell in your body, there are 10 chemical reactions going on at all times in order to create ATP. A larger organism is going to require more ATP for movement and maintaining cellular metabolism and therefore would have more trouble in the desert. If larger organisms were at all suited for hot, low moisture environments then you would see more of them on Earth.

Basically, the guys who created Dark Sun don't know ecology and science. :)  Frank Herbert was the definitive master for worldbuilding living ecosystems, not Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, or any of those other guys.

Lizzie

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2016, 02:01:41 PM »
Also, I read somewhere that the larger and animal is (above humans) the less calories it has to consume in order to maintain it's body heat, and if body heat is part of the reason we /need/ to consume calories, then Meks should be perfectly natural and consume rather little, out there in one of the hottest places I've ever come across. I'm going to have to research that too.


Generation of body heat is a byproduct of cellular metabolism (particularly glycolysis). All organisms do this, even cold-blooded ones. It's just warm-blooded creatures have internal systems to regulate and maintain that heat.

In hot environments, generating of body heat is more of a problem than a necessary thing. Mechanisms and adaptations to shed excess body heat have to occur or overheating will kill the organism.

Inside every cell in your body, there are 10 chemical reactions going on at all times in order to create ATP. A larger organism is going to require more ATP for movement and maintaining cellular metabolism and therefore would have more trouble in the desert. If larger organisms were at all suited for hot, low moisture environments then you would see more of them on Earth.

Basically, the guys who created Dark Sun don't know ecology and science. :)  Frank Herbert was the definitive master for worldbuilding living ecosystems, not Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, or any of those other guys.

Elephants
Dromedary (camels)
Desert Bighorn Sheep
Rhinoceros
Wild horses
Desert Tortoise

Those are some pretty big desert animals.
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Jihelu

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2016, 03:10:05 PM »
I mean, I don't think Dark Sun needs to be very scientific.
Considering halflings had fucking flesh magick and populated the world with their own races.
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nauta

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2016, 03:12:09 PM »
I mean, I don't think Dark Sun needs to be very scientific.
Considering halflings had fucking flesh magick and populated the world with their own races.



Biowizard halflings are very scientific.
as IF you didn't just have them unconscious, naked, and helpless in the street 4 minutes ago

Chettaman

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2016, 03:22:02 PM »
I mean, I don't think Dark Sun needs to be very scientific.
Considering halflings had fucking flesh magick and populated the world with their own races.

I've got some flesh magick for ya.  ;)
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Jihelu

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2016, 03:29:44 PM »
I mean, I don't think Dark Sun needs to be very scientific.
Considering halflings had fucking flesh magick and populated the world with their own races.

I've got some flesh magick for ya.  ;)
o-oh



My thoughts on things being 'realistic'.
I like realism as much as the next guy. I really do. But for a game like this, a Mud really, I don't think you can use realism as an accurate portrayel of what the casual/even most vet players want.
If everyone had to carry around a piece of flint and rock everytime they wanted to light a torch, fail half the time, and still see jack shit at night because torches suck irl, no one would be having fun.
If people had to actually heal wounds/lost limbs like one would in real life, people would get pissy.

Keeping things at a workable low fantasy/just at the level of "Can this be explained ic or is this magick shit" is okay.
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Raptor_Dan

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Re: Scientific Zalanthas
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2016, 11:54:50 AM »
Also, I read somewhere that the larger and animal is (above humans) the less calories it has to consume in order to maintain it's body heat, and if body heat is part of the reason we /need/ to consume calories, then Meks should be perfectly natural and consume rather little, out there in one of the hottest places I've ever come across. I'm going to have to research that too.


Generation of body heat is a byproduct of cellular metabolism (particularly glycolysis). All organisms do this, even cold-blooded ones. It's just warm-blooded creatures have internal systems to regulate and maintain that heat.

In hot environments, generating of body heat is more of a problem than a necessary thing. Mechanisms and adaptations to shed excess body heat have to occur or overheating will kill the organism.

Inside every cell in your body, there are 10 chemical reactions going on at all times in order to create ATP. A larger organism is going to require more ATP for movement and maintaining cellular metabolism and therefore would have more trouble in the desert. If larger organisms were at all suited for hot, low moisture environments then you would see more of them on Earth.

Basically, the guys who created Dark Sun don't know ecology and science. :)  Frank Herbert was the definitive master for worldbuilding living ecosystems, not Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, or any of those other guys.

Very good to know, and pretty interesting. I don't really think this thread is about realism, or needing realism, or anything like that. I thought it was just for fun for those of us that like to use their imaginations to ponder the scientific possibilities, and while you're explanation of cellular metabolism totally shot my idea to shit, I still enjoyed learning about, so, thanks for that.

(edited to remove unnecessary mean comments)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 12:18:36 PM by Raptor_Dan »
I'm just looking for a general consensus. Or Moe's opinion. Either one generally can be accepted as canon.