Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Anil Aggarwal's "Why Dinosaurs Beame Extinct?" (flash fiction, free)

Cool concept, but over-dramatization & occasional lack of logical consistency spoiled it for me.

Story summary.

Dinosaurs died out because of a fatal mutation introduced by alien visitors from Tau Ceti system 65 million years ago. They were here for a stopover, & played a game. They altered the physical structure of the molecule that is the "respiratory enzyme Cytochrome oxidase" (in dinosaur biochemistry) to geometrically resemble the star pattern that includes Sol, Tau Ceti, & their neighborhoods - to fatal results for the animals!

Fact sheet.

First published: Unknown.
Rating: B
Download full text.

6 comments:

Arvind Mishra said...

Thanks for introducing to this story !

Krishnan said...

Dear Tinkoo, you are doing a stupendous job. I am astounded by your almost regular posts on variety of SF topics. Carry on the good work. It is nice to note that you are shedding much need light on Indian SF too.

james-nicoll said...

Dinosaurs died out because of a fatal mutation introduced by alien visitors from Tau Ceti system 65 million years ago.

If I recall correctly, Tau Ceti has a velocity relative to us of about 20 km/s. Over 65 million years that adds up to a distance of about 4,000 light years. I don't suppose Tau Ceti was supposed to be thousands of light years away in that story?

Tinkoo said...

James: I didn't know the numbers regarding Tau Ceti you quote; thank for enlightening.

When I said "occasional lack of logical consistency", that relative star position is not fixed is one of the things I was referring to. But he does write Tau Ceti; follow the story text link in the post for confirmation.

Other gross oversight appears to be about Himalayan geography. While I'm not familiar with details of this geologically unstable region, assuming you will be able to recover a body buried there 65 million years ago sounds like a stretch. But I'll defer opinion on it to experts.

james-nicoll said...

It could be worse: I was once sent a book where the local stars had been the local stars for four galactic revolutions.

There are fossils up at the top of the Himalayas, although I don't know from which periods. Marine fossils at the tops of mountains were one of the things that hinted that geology is not static (and I have dim memory that discussions of marine fossils at the tops of mountains goes back at least to Classical Greece).

Tinkoo said...

James: He's not talking of fossils. He's talking of whole animals preserved in Himalayan glaciers - the way preserved mammoths are sometimes found in northern latitudes! He's extracting their DNA!

But mammoths were buried may be 10,000 years ago. And Siberia is probably far more geologically stable land than Himalayas.

Even if I assume earth's climate did not undergo any drastic cycles during the last 65 million years ago (a very dubious assumption), won't continental drift ensure the same continental position will be at a different latitude after this big an interval?

But I'm no expert on the subject. I just did a quick search on age of Himalayas - they're about half billion years old, & "oldest core material in the entire Himalayas, almost 2 billion years old". Key question is: what is the chance that a specific glacier where the animal was buried has survived 65 million years?