[LMB] Betan control of pregnancy

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Fri Nov 13 00:14:12 GMT 2015

On Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 7:20 PM, M R L Dolbear <m.dolbear at lineone.net> wrote:

> The Cetagandans presumably try to extrapolate and predict but the most
> obvious counterexample is the extrapolated 'portraits' of possible children
> that Bel and Nicol have generated in Diplomatic Immunity.

The portraits are explicitly noted to be a mere electronic combination of
images of Bel's and Nicol's facial features.  In the same exchange,
however, it's noted that the actual features of a child could be predicted
from a genetic sample.

I suspect that over the thousand years that have passed since our day,
geneticists have developed a whole lot of empirical observations about how
given genetic variations result in phenotypes.  But given unfamiliar
genetic variation, such as that produced by Cetagandan bioscience, no one
seems to be able to predict what the results will be in detail.  Oh, I'm
sure all the simpler genetic effects are understood, but most genes work in
combination rather than in simple isolation.

That's why the ba exist - so that the actual results of genetic changes can
be observed before they're incorporated into the haut gene pool.  I presume
that the Cetas are the best in the known universe at genetic manipulation.
If they can't predict the higher-order consequences of genetic
manipulation, I'm pretty sure that no one else can do so either.

As is the case with a number of conceptually-related examples, such as the
N-body problem, weather prediction, and similar chaotic physical systems,
it's possible to create working models of modest accuracy from empirical
observation even though no theoretical solution to the problem exists.  So
the Cetas can make pretty good guesses as to how any engineered change will
express itself.  They just want to perform a 'smoke test' to screen out any
unexpected surprises.

There's never been much of a sign that the Cetas have any generalized
superiority in other sciences.  I'm personally curious as to whether either
of the empires that know about telepathy are doing research into how it
physically operates - it's simply not possible for it to be electromagnetic
in nature, which opens some very peculiar questions.

Matt G.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list