Say Hello to the gh
September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
If you can stomach it, think of a slime mold. (If you can’t think of a slime mold, just look at the picture. Yeah, you guessed it—that hideous thing is a slime mold.) Now think of a slime mold with biomass comparable to a human. To be exact, think of a slime mold with biomass between .432 and 1.711 times that of a human. And don’t forget that the specific biomass is always in a state of flux as the organism constantly “reorganizes” its constituent cells. Actually, it would be false to call them cells. They’re not really cells in the way that we understand the concept; they’re more like the organelles within one of our cells. In the same way that we have brain cells, skin cells, and so on, the gh have different “organelles” representing the smallest unit of intelligent organization (but not the smallest constructive unit, of course—they’re fully dependent on proteins).
This unique biology gives the gh an amazingly resiliency to physical danger, but it also has its own share of problems. While it allows gh’s to survive physical dismemberment for a time that is proportional to the biomass of the smallest separated…uh…chunk, it means that, if a gh ever stays below the .432 limit for too long, it “dissipates” (dies, in our language). And if this happens, the organelles involved permanently lose the ability to be a part of a being as complex as a gh. There are actually tiers of intelligence on dgh (the gh home planet); on top are the gh. They’re followed in the hierarchy by what are comparably animals, plants, and so on. (Funnily enough, their slime molds are identical to ours in every way.)
The gh themselves do not fully understand why this happens, but some among them advance the theory of a “node.” According to this theory, the organelles of a gh are originally organized around an irreducible essence. Naturally, there are different types of nodes for each level in the hierarchy. Only those beings with the biomass of a gh can support a gh node. But if that biomass falls below the .432 limit, the node disappears. And while gh can temporarily utilize extra “organelles” present in their environment, they can’t form a superorganism larger than 1.711 times the biomass of a human because gh do not have a node capable of supporting such a size. So the different strata of slime mold creatures that inhabit dgh are genetically very similar, but actually as different from each other as the different kingdoms of life here on earth. But it’s just a theory–and not very many of the gh believe it.
For this reason, the gh have a semblance of individuality. But if one considers them as individuals (which it’s not wise to do) then they are constantly changing individuals—their personalities, character, and so on depend on the specific organization and amount of organelles at any one moment.
Because of the gh’s inherent entropy and apparent infertility, there are only a few thousand gh in existence. In one of life’s great ironies, the entire gh community has devoted itself to making sure that dgh will not one day be populated entirely by beings with the complexity of slime molds.