Monday, November 25, 2013

The means of your life, create and melt

It wasn't easy to create an all-consuming blobmonster -- a "black viscid pool of living ooze" without shape or structure, enveloping and dissolving all flesh, not entirely unlike Christmas Ale -- the first time an author wrote about one. A mad scientist had to mutate an amoeba to colossal size, using radium rays, because world hunger. The second blobmonster was slightly less work and required a "violent subterranean explosion, covering huge areas of the ocean's floor" to displace the Urschleim from the stygian darkness of the oceanic abyss to the middle of Wharton's Marsh.

But the workings of the Morphogenetic Field are inexorable and ineluctable, and follow similar rules to a Google search algorithm, making each subsequent appearance of a protoplasmic horror progressively easier to occur. Before you could say 'plitch' they were arriving on meteorites.

By 1959, a fortuitous encounter of discarded chemicals on their way down the laboratory's drainpipe was enough to create a self-replicating molecular chain, capable of swelling its bulk by incorporating the co-opted and rearranged atoms of any organic matter... proliferating in the sewers and drains and emerging from faucets and plugholes in search of more human flesh to absorb. All the best names had been taken by then which is why it had to settle for "the Clone".
Below: Cover art of Italian
translation is more illustrative
The Clone had assimilated the entire population of Chicago before its vulnerability to iodine was discovered. People only handled the trauma by convincing themselves that no such city had ever existed.

What all this means is that the creation of a crawling amoebic flesh-melter has never been easier (not to mention the discovery of already-extant amoebic flesh-melters which long predate the emergence of cellular life) -- and I am simply dumbfounded that the Lifeboat Foundation does not see fit to include this possibility within its list of Existential Threats to Human Survival.

The omission is inexplicable. As noted on a previous occasion, the Lifeboat Foundation's concerns are varied and ecumenical, including:

To protect against unfriendly AI (Artificial Intelligence).
To protect against ecophages and nonreplicating nanoweapons
If our civilization ran out of energy, it would grind to a halt, so Lifeboat Foundation is looking for solutions.
To prevent abuse in the areas of neuropharmaceuticals, neurodevices, and neurodiagnostics. Worst cases include enslaving the world’s population or causing everyone to commit suicide.
To prevent, and also make plans on surviving when possible, particle accelerator mishaps including quantum vacuum collapse, mining the quantum vacuum, formation of a stable strangelet, and the creation of artificial mini-black holes.
To prevent annihilation by an alien race (biological or otherwise).
To prevent antimatter-based annihilation.
To protect against black holes that are not manmade. This would include an “eye to the sky” program that would scan for signs of them.
To protect against and/or cope with our sun becoming a red giant and other harmful fluctuations in its output.

... and contra Substance McGravitas, they are also working on a GoatseShield if the website logo is any guide.
But then this happened in an unnamed cell-bio laboratory.* I am not one to cast wild accusations around but it reads as if someone has been fiddling with the Morphogenic Flux Intensifier again:
The next part is a bit of a blur. As I pulled the bottle from the back of the fridge, I held it to the light to see if there was any mold growing in there. That’s typically what we’d find… mold. I don’t think that’s what this was. It was almost a perfect sphere, maybe a bit oblong like an egg, and a bit yellowish in colour. It was about the size of a tangerine – I’m not kidding. It seemed solid. I shook the bottle a bit, and it bounced off the sides.
All I could think was… oh god. It’s human.
... This thing had been growing undisturbed for at least two months, probably more. Bacteria would make the liquid cloudy. Fungus would probably look like tendrils through the bottle. I don’t know. I panicked. It looked like a damn kidney.
So, here I am, Monday morning, holding a tumor in a bottle in one hand and spinning in circles to see if anyone else was around.
So the anonymous student simply pours the mystery growth into the sewers, having mixed it with bleach in an attempt at decontamination which may simply have angered it. What are they teaching cell-bio students these days?! Have they never heard of basic biohazard protocols like "Burn it with fire" or "Take off and nuke the entire site from orbit"?! Even at McGravitas Laboratories they know better than that.

Just don't be surprised if prominent North American cities start disappearing from the map.

... If the human race survives, it is because the Morphogenetic Field is neutral and even-handed. Since the pioneering work of Wandrei and Stapledon, it has also been acting to make vat-grown brains progressively easier to create, to the point that they appear spontaneously. It may be that what the student flushed down the sink was only a nascent super-intelligence, capable -- had it had been left to grow -- of solving the equations of Superstring Theory, and curing cancer on the side.

One way or the other it could have solved world hunger.

* H/t Boing Boing.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Needs MOAR shoggoths!

tigris said...

Worst cases include ... causing everyone to commit suicide.

Evil funeral director?

Substance McGravitas said...

So the anonymous student simply pours the mystery growth into the sewers

There are ALLIGATORS down there.

Smut Clyde said...

Biological control, Mr McG? That never works. Remember that time with the air-dropped cannibalistic pygmies who were supposed to fix the rat problem?