3D Birds

My laptop’s disk crashed while I was away. I’ve reformatted the disk, reinstalled an old OS I had actual CDs for, restored my files from backup, and ordered a new laptop. What a pain.

I was enjoying watching birds flying. I’m not a bird-watcher at all, and all I know about these is that they were LGB birds (a useful abbreviation for Little Grey Bird, or in other words the birds I mostly see, other than pigeons). It’s not an original thought, but birds live in an impressively three-dimensional space. We think we live in a 3D world, but really we mostly live on a deformed 2D surface. If a bird wants to get somewhere across the valley, it goes straight there. We trudge down and up.

Fish have this ability to an even greater degree. It’s kind of a shame that there are no airfish. One can easily imagine a balloon like animal which would drift around in the air, moving itself up via electrolysis to produce hydrogen and down by converting the hydrogen back into water. Fish swim by waving their fins but an airfish would need much larger fins, basically wings. The airfish would have few natural predators and could get pretty large. They would have to steer clear of thunderstorms. I’m not sure what they would eat.

I wonder how long it will be before genetic engineers can design entirely new animals?

1 Comment »

  1. ncm said,

    September 8, 2008 @ 6:54 am

    The airfish would descend by compressing its swim bladder, and rise by relaxing it, just like a real fish. Airfish would be more affected by barometric pressure than real fishes, and would suffer more leakage, as hydrogen is hard to contain. They probably would not explode anywhere near as often as wags like to suggest; lightning would be a problem with or without the hydrogen.

    We already have a name for airfish. Let me quote from the animated rendition of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Reluctant Dragon”:

    Just a-Drifting

    Just a-drifting o’er the leaves like a dewdrop,
    fancy-free, playing with the gentle breeze
    And romping with the bumble-bees…-es,
    oh how fun, joy never ceases…
    Just a-drifting

    Prancing, dancing to and fro,
    not too fast, not too slow
    Where the early birds are seeking,
    early worms are shyly peeking,
    hear the night owls softly squeaking…
    Just a-drifting.

    I leave with this quote from Douglas Adams:

    … for no sooner would a flock of half a dozen silk-winged leather-bodied Fuolornis Fire Dragons heave into sight across the evening horizon than half the people of Brequinda are scurrying off into the woods with the other half, there to spend a busy breathless night together and emerge with the first rays of dawn all smiling and happy and still claiming, rather endearingly, to be virgins, if rather flushed and sticky virgins.

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