Thermo-plankton are engineered variants of several related
strains of ocean plankton. They grow, reproduce, and die
as do any other living things, but in addition they carry
with them several important additional functions. In particular
TP are able to, on command:
Change albedo, from a dark grey (albedo 20%) to
silver-white (albedo 90%+) Probably the most important
aspect of the TP, this allows the absorption of
solar radiation to be tailored, allowing large-scale
light level, temperature and pressure values, and
store these to a limited degree. This is necessary
to co-ordinate the TPs and to allow goal-seeking
temperature through tailored endothermic/exothermic
reactions. (Think of chemical hot-and-cold-packs,
such as those used by hikers to treat ankle sprains.)
This is chiefly used to transport heat vertically
in the TP layer, and for fine-control. Although
many people think of TP as actively cooling/heating,
this function is in fact used only in emergency
situations, esp. in cases of extreme weather. A
single TP can, in theory, freeze or steam itself
- but that's no way to control your climate!
materials and signals with surrounding TP. High
frequency sound allows TP to communicate basic information
with their immediate neighbors. This is necessary
to maintain the TP layer and to co-ordinate the
actions of the TP. Each TP has a VERY limited range
of communication, but coordination is still possible.
Absorb CO2 to form their "skeletons."
When TPs die, the carbonates of their shells settle
to the bottom of the ocean, helping to reduce warming
narrow-band micrometer wave transmission energy
from power satellites, and use it for metabolism.
This is necessary to give the TP a competitive advantage
over their unmodified kin. After all, they are carrying
an additional metabolic burden we have imposed.
It is only fair that we pay some of the cost! These
transmissions are also a mechanism for sending commands
to the TP.
Communicating with TP
The perpetual problem with nanotechnology is that of coordination.
Paradoxically, the thing that makes the TP-net feasible
is its enormous scale. Coordinating the actions of billions
of tiny machines is a difficult to impossible task. And
there are many trillions of TP.
But it is not necessary to control each and every TP,
nor for every TP to communicate with every other. Similar
problems exist in a human body. There is no way for the
brain, for example, to control every cell. So the cells
do the work, and the brain issues very broad directions.
Consider a human heart. If you put a single heart cell
in a nutrient dish it will still beat, but erratically.
Put another cell near it and the two begin to beat together,
though still erratically. More and more cells become more
and more stable. Add a few special pathways and some natural
"pace-maker" cells and you have a fully functioning
even though each cell communicates only with
Think locally, act globally.
Similarly, each TP communicates only with those in its
immediate vicinity. High frequency sound waves exchange
information between TP. This allows TP to co-ordinate
and to seek established goals by adjusting reflectivity
But the setting of those goals requires
global knowledge. This is where THOR comes into play,
sending commands to the TP in a particular area.
This is harder than you would think. A given TP has
no idea where it is, not does it have the "intelligence"
to figure out what it should do. The well-meaning folks
at AIT hoped to achieve fine control of the TP by targeted
micrometer wave transmissions from space, and (weather
permitting!) THOR occasionally uses this channel. However,
such transmissions are subject to interference from
and TP you can't reach
due to poor weather conditions are not much use! So
the crucial TP C&C systems in use are still the
ones developed right here at BWU-Dunedin. We rely on
ocean-based control systems using infra-sound. The TP
detect these very low frequency transmissions as pressure
changes, and watch for a particular signal pattern.
By splitting signals between several stations it is
possible to send commands to only the TP within a fairly
narrow area of overlap.
Thus, large-scale communication from THOR gives the
TP in an area a goal, and the TP co-ordinate their local
actions to seek that goal.
The noise pollution resulting from the actions of the
TP web probably has the world's cetacean population
thinking that we make pretty lousy neighbors, but it's
a price we're willing to pay for the climate control
that has allowed us to gently rebuild the ice-caps to
more than half their pre-Warming size, recovering millions
of hectares of habitable land. Thanks to BWU-Dunedin,
New York, London, and Shanghai are once again bustling
cosmopolitan centers. A bit waterlogged, it's true:
but if us air-breathers have to choose between living
in Venice, or Atlantis, we'll take Venice every time!