Boosterspice and Tree-of-Life both somehow affect telomere degradation.ledge: Ringworld Children has significant plot points involving boosterspice, nanotech, tree-of-life and the protector transformation which are never explicitly outlined in the book — The Details Are Left To The Reader. After getting a chance to read and think about a final draft of the story, I thought that a possible justification for both boosterspice and tree-of-life being effective for anti-aging is that they both must somehow affect telomere degradation. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of genes on the ends of chromosomes that prevent the chromosomes from "unravelling" during mitosis. (Like the little things on the ends of shoelaces.) They degrade slowly over time as cells divide. Different cells seem to degrade their telomeres at different rates and with recent medical research telomere degradation seems to be a major factor in cell senescence. When genes are changed in flatworms that affect the rate of telomere degradation, they can live up to three times longer than non-modified flatworms and with a significant difference in behaviour. ("Old" modified flatworms don't exhibit much different behaviour from "young" modified flatworms. "Old" non-modified flatworms are sluggish and relatively inactive.) A similar experiment has been done with modified eye cells - they exhibit virtually no indications of senescence after many more times of cell division over non-modified cells. In fact, the recent Nobel Prize for medicine went to scientists who did some of the original research on telomere/telomerase activity. Back to Wild-Ass-Guessing... The reason that boosterspice interferes with transformation into Pak via tree-of-life virus is because the tree-of-life also tries to prevent telomere degradation by a different process, so the two end up causing cellular failure instead by flat out screwing up mitosis. It could also explain why, past a certain age, the protector transformation also fails: telomeres are already too degraded and therefore the transformation also causes mitosis failure. The reason Louis Wu is able to transform into a protector after being almost 250 years old (well beyond the age which hominids should be able to successfully go through the transformation, not to mention also being a boosterspice user) was based on the fact that he got jammed into the nanotech medical box and "regenerated", part of the process being to "reset" any existing telomere degradation as well as removing whatever effects boosterspice may have had. When I brought all of this up on the Niven mailing list - and how the boosterspice/nanotech/tree-of-life things are major plot points and how it could be resolved based on what we actually knew about medicine and aging at the time the book was written - I got a response of, basically, "yup." Obviously it's a long way from a Nobel Prize on telomere research to making boosterspice but it is another amazing example of Niven once again Showing His Work. And since it was never really explained how boosterspice or tree-of-life worked in the first place, it's not even a Retcon! If the author of the work says you're basically right, does that no longer make it Wild Mass Guessing? ... come to think of it, if the guesser has shown his work is it even guessing?
Fist-Of-God Mountain was created intentionally.Just exactly the right height to avoid spilling atmosphere? And the impact was supposedly powerful enough to vaporize a body the size of Earth's moon yet didin't knock the unstable Ringworld into the sun or even the Shadow Squares, despite it barely being able to avoid doing so from a simple solar flare? No, someone put that cone there as an escape hatch. Prime candidates are the original Protector builders or the City Builders— the City Builders, as they've been proven reckless with Ringworld technology before, and were the only Ringworld species to have off-world planetary colonies to escape to; Protectors because they could have engineered it into the original design of the Ring and made it look old as a misdirection for the later races (just as they did with the Map of Mars).
How does puppeteer reproduction really work?Louis speculated that "the puppeteers bred like digger wasps: their progeny ate the flesh of a helpless host." Some readers have criticized the idea that a herbivorous species would go through a carnivorous stage in their life cycle. So what if it's not actually the host's flesh that the fetus is eating? Suppose all sex for puppeteers is oral: the two "males" deposit their gametes down each of the throats of the "female"/host, and fertilization occurs in the host's stomach. The fetus continues to develop in the stomach, absorbing nutrients from the plant matter that the host eats, causing the host to slowly die of malnutrition. When gestation is complete, the infant uses his hind leg to kick a hole through his mother's abdomen and emerge. This also explains why sane puppeteers are reluctant to kick with their hind leg as a means of self-defense: they consider it to be obscene.
Fist-of-God was not created by an asteroid, but a small black hole.It passed through and continued to pull the scrith "upwards" as it did so. There's the issue of the black hole going into that sun - maybe it didn't have time to do much damage before the Ringworld left that solar system all together.