What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Extant » Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:19 pm UTC

Moose Anus wrote:Breaking a mirror is supposed to be a good thing, but I think it would just increase the amount of virtual moons.

»We discovered (such a discovery is inevitable in the late hours of the night) that mirrors hare something monstrous about them. Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number of men.... the visible universe was an illusion or (more precisely) a sophism. Mirrors and fatherhood are abominable because they multiply and disseminate that universe.«

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Jonathan589 » Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

to Pfhorrest: Apologies for misattribution--now fixed--and I understood your point and was trying to seek a method where the harvester could jump the gun. Assuming Randall's graph was a result of careful observation, there must be a rationale, but I am a bear of little brain, merely fluff.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby senor_cardgage » Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:16 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:You got the quote attribution wrong, and also that doesn't solve the problem, which is that logically you cannot run for 27 seconds if you only have 24 seconds of life in which to do it.


The 24-second clock starts ticking after the 27-second head start.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby senor_cardgage » Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:19 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, but while we could assume some uniformity in the speed of the harvesters, it's very unlikely that humans' running speeds would be so uniform.


I saw no reference to humans in that chart.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby azule » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:07 pm UTC

*waves hello at kryton*

Flumble wrote:Argh, Randall, why can't you just keep to your own rules? What If is about answering questions from others, not about being pseudo-meta without anyone asking for it.
I like it by itself, but Randall could've blagged it or whatever and allow the what-ifs to be what-ifs.
Yes, exactly. [The following, uh, I don't know:]
Spoiler:
I've been reading "not always right" and have often found it more sad than funny, because I've realized that these crazy off-kilter people are probably so due to being old and senile and whatever. I think the case might be similarish here (being that they think this stuff so "it's funny"). Main point really being that I feel like it's humor at their expense. This fora is supposed to be against that kind of thing. I would be more comfortable if it was outlined as "things [Randall] didn't have an answer for but wanted to share because they intrigued [him]". Introbulus points out superbly that these "alt" realities are actually less frightening than a lot of Randall's What-If's. *sigh*

I do appreciate the glimpses at more of what people out there think. :)
So is the deal that these are from unreleased What-If articles that Randall has written? That makes the most sense considering the last "article" was just an image (the graph).

gladiolas wrote:His intro implies they are all in the same alternate universe.
Literally implies, but logically does not. I just don't know anymore.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:16 pm UTC

senor_cardgage wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:You got the quote attribution wrong, and also that doesn't solve the problem, which is that logically you cannot run for 27 seconds if you only have 24 seconds of life in which to do it.

The 24-second clock starts ticking after the 27-second head start.

That was my solution to the initial raising of the problem.

The argument thus far has gone (paraphrasing and not attributing anything here):

"How are some survival times less than the head-start times?" (suggesting an implicit belief that both timers begin simultaneously)

"The survival timer starts ticking when the head-start timer ends: the total running time is the sum of the two"

"Then why do survival times and head-start times track so closely to each other?"

"Because the harvester is about twice as fast as humans on average."

"But the survival time is usually just a little bit more than the head-start time, so couldn't both timers start at the same time and the harvester just always takes a moment to catch up to the human no matter how far their head start?"

"Then how are some survival times less than the head-start times, if both timers begin simultaneously?" (suggesting that they can't begin simultaneously, which means that the survival timer starts when the head-start time ends, which means that the harvester must be about twice as fast as humans on average for the head-start and survival times to track so closely to each other)
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Nov 22, 2014 1:25 am UTC

And I'd respond to that last one that I took that as part of the joke. Like, at a glance, you see that the head start and survival times track with the expanding gap on average, and then if you look close, you see that it breaks. There's something subtly hilarious to me about an impossible data point, particularly if it's not a mistake.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Himself » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:07 am UTC

Regarding scuba divining human blood. Randall talks about having to account for differences in density, but what about differences in viscosity? Could that affect anything?
Getting a bit of a Cave Johnson vibe here.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby TrueNarnian » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

This is the http://www.xkcd.com/68 of What-If's

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Xantix » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:12 am UTC

It seems like there was some confusion about the Harvester graph, so let me clear that up.

This wasn't a simple repeatable test where they ran the test on Subject #1, followed by Subject #2, etc.

In order to save time, they ran one trial on all World Subjects at the same time. At present only the results for the first 28 subjects are published.

Some of the larger test subjects (as shown by their larger dot sizes) heroically ran towards the harvester in an attempt to buy the cowards running for their lives a little more time.

If we extrapolate this graph a bit, assuming that 26.4 subjects stop surviving every 30 seconds, by the time the harvester has reached the 7.125 billionth subject (as of 2013...not today) 8.55 years will have passed, which might be enough time to build up a defense / offense against the harvester (or to at least mutually assure destruction).

In the absence of a defensive plan, the projected extinction date of the human species gets a little messy (mathematically and in real life) since we need to account for the rate of population increase due to births and because of the predation. I give us about 10 years.

All of this is assuming that the 28 data points accurately represent the world population and that 10 years is too short of a time for survival of the fittest to generate antiharvester mutation in the human species.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Adacore » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:19 am UTC

Xantix wrote:It seems like there was some confusion about the Harvester graph, so let me clear that up.

...

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:45 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Introbulus wrote:Wait, I'm confused.

The normal world of "What-if?" contains pitchers with nuclear-explosive arms, massive raindrops that encompass entire years worth of rainfall, giants that fell the worlds' only supply of wood, a metal box that flies across and obliterates the entire world...

And we're supposed to be afraid of the alternate reality?
Yeah, here the apocalypsi (apocalypsen? why would it even have a plural?) are strictly hypothetical; in the alternate realities, they've actually happened...
It's kinda surprising how many posters in the thread seem not to get this.

Like, our-world "Relativistic Baseball" is completely hypothetical, but Over There "Relativistic Baseball" would include sentences along the lines of
While you might think a ball moving at 90% of light speed would simply have four times the energy of the ball in the disastrous 3rd game of the 2011 World Series (estimated at about 0.45c), the reality would actually be much, much worse than that.


These aren't the idle musings about what might happen if some hypothetical situation is taken to the (il)logical extreme, these are asides and notes about things that have already happened in the alternate universe(s).
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:28 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:You got the quote attribution wrong, and also that doesn't solve the problem, which is that logically you cannot run for 27 seconds if you only have 24 seconds of life in which to do it.


Sure. You keep running for three seconds after your life ends. Seems simple enough.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby squall_line » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:12 pm UTC

Without knowing the question that led to the graph, one can only speculate as to the explanation of both the lead time and the "Survival time < Lead time" points on the graph.

Perhaps the notion about when the clocks each start, is predicated on an idea of fairness as it exists in our own universe.

I wouldn't put it past a Harvester to jump the gun on a head start. Or perhaps there's a randomization built into the Harvester to occasionally ignore the head start time. Or maybe there's one Harvester with faulty coding or an overclocked timing chip.

Or perhaps the question that led to the graph is, "What if all Harvesters were programmed to pay attention to the lead time given to their prey, instead of randomly ignoring it?" or "What if Harvesters didn't have time travel capabilities?" And, in researching the issue, the person writing the "What If" came across that graph and found that, indeed, some Harvesters ignore the lead time or use their ability to travel in time to harvest their prey before they can actually get away.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Plasma_Wolf » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:53 pm UTC

I think Randall is working on his own Voynich Manuscript. If that is the case, I will pre-order it no matter the cost.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby adavies42 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:02 pm UTC

Apparently someone asked, "What if Randall read SCP?"

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby ctdonath » Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:52 pm UTC

Comment
Flumble wrote:Argh, Randall, why can't you just keep to your own rules? What If is about answering questions from others, not about being pseudo-meta without anyone asking for it.

is immediately followed by post
The normal world of "What-if?" contains pitchers with nuclear-explosive arms, massive raindrops that encompass entire years worth of rainfall, giants that fell the worlds' only supply of wood, a metal box that flies across and obliterates the entire world...

So yeah, he's keeping to his own rules - he's just giving you the "deleted scenes" of answers, out of context of the questions.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby ctdonath » Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:55 pm UTC

TrueNarnian wrote:This is the http://www.xkcd.com/68 of What-If's

Thank you for that link. The DST frame is...glorious.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Meshakhad » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:25 pm UTC

This is awesome in a twisted way. Of all of these, I'm not sure which is the worst.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:51 pm UTC

I'm concerned that in that last one, a significant number of people live shorter lives than their headstart.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby clockworkbookreader » Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

I'm glad that the capture of Wayne Gretsky reduced the deaths in hockey. The Evil Lemieux was still at large for a quite some time - evidently his assassination did not have the same effect.

THough, shame on MLB for taking away the artillery. It was the only thing that made baseball interesting.... Rockets. They should add rockets.


--- and as a note on the survival time graph: I think that the machines have gotten smart enough to cheat.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:17 pm UTC

What-If head start is for the actual harvest while survival time also accounts for ranged weapons?

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby FLHerne » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:11 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:"But the survival time is usually just a little bit more than the head-start time, so couldn't both timers start at the same time and the harvester just always takes a moment to catch up to the human no matter how far their head start?"

"Then how are some survival times less than the head-start times, if both timers begin simultaneously?" (suggesting that they can't begin simultaneously, which means that the survival timer starts when the head-start time ends, which means that the harvester must be about twice as fast as humans on average for the head-start and survival times to track so closely to each other)

Because the harvester isn't the only possible cause of death during the experiment - some test subjects might experience heart failure while fleeing, or be targeted with modern curses by someone trying to confuse the researchers.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Tobu » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:31 am UTC

Fworg64 wrote:Upon inspection of the last graph (unable to post image b/c I just created this account) it disturbs me that the survival time can be lower than the head start time.


Yup. That's because most people now carry fast-acting suicide pills. Harvester terminations are gruesome, and there is always the risk that the harvester keeps your nervous system intact for high-level reuse, which if the feeds are to be believed is NOT pleasant. You should see it as a quality of life issue; most people trade a shorter lifespan for reduced stress in their final moments.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:41 am UTC

Yeah but the harvesters are busy with in virto neuro revivication research so we'll probably have to up the poison to destroy nerves to something beyond their capabilities of repairing.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby tuseroni » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:31 pm UTC

i feel like randall just discovered welcome to nightvale.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:34 am UTC

I feel like that sort of surrealist horror predates WTNV by quite a bit.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby CassesVultus » Thu Dec 04, 2014 7:24 am UTC

Maybe the harvesters are able to move backwards through time while they chase their prey. They're able to catch the prey before they start chasing it, alien technology can be rough.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Wybaar » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:19 pm UTC

FLHerne wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:"But the survival time is usually just a little bit more than the head-start time, so couldn't both timers start at the same time and the harvester just always takes a moment to catch up to the human no matter how far their head start?"

"Then how are some survival times less than the head-start times, if both timers begin simultaneously?" (suggesting that they can't begin simultaneously, which means that the survival timer starts when the head-start time ends, which means that the harvester must be about twice as fast as humans on average for the head-start and survival times to track so closely to each other)

Because the harvester isn't the only possible cause of death during the experiment - some test subjects might experience heart failure while fleeing, or be targeted with modern curses by someone trying to confuse the researchers.

I was thinking the same thing -- just because you were given a head-start of a certain length doesn't mean that you were able to use all of it. Accidents (running into a tree in the dark while fleeing, falling onto a weapon that was set out to give you a chance to make your death more entertaining by letting you take an [ineffective] shot at a harvester, etc.), suicides (quicker and less painful to shoot yourself in the head with one of the aforementioned weapons than be harvested), or being scared to death via a heart attack could all cause your death in a stressful, frightening situation like running from a harvester.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Wybaar » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:28 pm UTC

Are we about to find out "What If Randall missed a week of What Ifs without warning?" I'm not complaining (since I know neither George R. R. Martin nor Randall are our bitch) but the notice at the top of the What If page suggests the plan was to skip the week of U.S. Thanksgiving and come back the week after and I didn't see anything in the forum or the blag announcing a second skip. Does anyone know what's going on? Thanks.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby niky » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:21 am UTC

FLHerne wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:"But the survival time is usually just a little bit more than the head-start time, so couldn't both timers start at the same time and the harvester just always takes a moment to catch up to the human no matter how far their head start?"

"Then how are some survival times less than the head-start times, if both timers begin simultaneously?" (suggesting that they can't begin simultaneously, which means that the survival timer starts when the head-start time ends, which means that the harvester must be about twice as fast as humans on average for the head-start and survival times to track so closely to each other)

Because the harvester isn't the only possible cause of death during the experiment - some test subjects might experience heart failure while fleeing, or be targeted with modern curses by someone trying to confuse the researchers.


Or the possibility that the test subjects will eventually try to kill each other off, in order to give themselves more time by giving the Harvesters something else to harvest.

The trendline suggests that Harvester can catch a running human in about 9 seconds with a 21 second head start... Within 30 seconds, most people should be able to run about 200 meters over level ground. That gives the Harvesters an average speed of 80 km/h. But it assumes instantaneous acceleration. And it also assume humans would be able to maintain that running speed over long distances.

In the absence of obstacles and hiding places, the line should trend steeply downwards after the first fifteen seconds or so.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby teelo » Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:18 am UTC

"next week" my ass. Wtf Randal ffs (etc etc entitlement etc).

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Alcatraz II » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:17 pm UTC

What If will return next week. Happy Thanksgiving!


Lies all lies!

Soon he's gonna start using Christmas as an excuse. And then the Chinese New Year.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:55 pm UTC

I actually find the oceans of blood not too disturbing. The text implies the replacement of divable bodies of water with blood rather than the creation of new bodies. The frightening thing about blood is that it came out of someone. Although I do suppose it's a huge sanitation issue.

Volleyball obviously has player replacement, that's how they can get 300% fatality rate per game.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:18 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I actually find the oceans of blood not too disturbing. The text implies the replacement of divable bodies of water with blood rather than the creation of new bodies. The frightening thing about blood is that it came out of someone. Although I do suppose it's a huge sanitation issue.


Need human blood have come from a human? And considering that humans appear to be able to donate at most something like 6 liters of blood per year (standard donation limits are 500ml once every 60 days, but they're based on letting most donors recover fully rather than draining the most prolific) how long would it take for the entire population of the world to produce enough blood to replace the world's supply of liquid fresh water?

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:33 pm UTC

The book of revelations (which is where this idea enters our culture from) describes the contents of the oceans being altered to be "like that of a dead man".

Another possibility: if we produce a fluid (say from a cell culture, but not a person) that is phenomenally identical to human blood, would you call it human blood?
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby slinches » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:17 pm UTC

If we could produce a fluid identical to blood from cell cultures in volumes large enough to fill seas, whether we call it human blood, artificial blood simulating fluid X or Soylent Red wouldn't matter in the slightest. We'd be able to treat everyone on the planet who needs a transfusion without ever having to worry about blood bank shortages again.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:26 am UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:The what if doesn't specify human blood.


What If wrote:and most SCUBA equipment functions relatively well when immersed in human blood.

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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby Mikemk » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:55 am UTC

When is last week's what if going to appear?

Oh, and the harvester/survival graph is obviously two uncorrelated data sets placed on the same graph as a marketing gimmick to get people to purchase more antiharvester protection suits.
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Re: What-If 0120: "Alternate Universe What Ifs"

Postby azule » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:36 am UTC

Alcatraz II wrote:
What If will return next week. Happy Thanksgiving!


Lies all lies!

Soon he's gonna start using Christmas as an excuse. And then the Chinese New Year.
I was thinking the same thing.
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