Gaia was also the name of a planet in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. This planet was not merely a single organism but a single consciousness as well, although its individual sentient constituents retain their individual identities as well. Perhaps a better analogy than the ones that Asimov used is that Gaia is like a computer network, in which the individual computers remain distinct as individuals, but also can share resources such as files and peripherals with other machines on the network. The most prominent aspect of Gaia in the Foundation novels is the woman named Bliss, who accompanied the characters Golan Trevize and Janov Pelorat on their quest to find the planet Earth.

Gaia was also the central computer of Olympus in Masamune Shirow's Appleseed. Gaia was believed by the bioroid council to be central to the Olympus model for the next stage of human development; the anticloning terrorist faction saw Gaia as nothing less than a force for pure evil. Gaia's job is to run all automated public systems in the city, including the Millipede Cannon. Around the second book in the series, Gaia began showing signs of independent thought.

A model of life, evolution, and the interacting processes that support life in an ecosystem, the Gaia Hypothesis, proposed by Drs. James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, examines the Earth's ecosystem as a single living organism. This is the model used in the the SimEarth game.

biosphere | biomass | diversity | weather | plate tectonics | Galaxia

Γαια

The Earth conceived as the primordial element from which sprang the divine races. She plays a major part in Hesiod's Theogony, but does not appear in Homer's poems. According to Hesiod, Gaia was born immediately after Chaos and just before Eros (Love). Without the aid of any male, she gave birth to Uranus (Heaven), to the Mountains, and also to Pontus, the male personification of the marine element. After the birth of Uranus, she coupled with him, and the children she bore thereafter were no longer simple elementary powers, but actual gods. First came the six Titans - Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus and Cronus - and the six Titanesses - Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe and Tethys, who were feminine divinities. CRONUS was the youngest of the line (Table 38). Gaia then gave birth to the CYCLOPS, Arges, Steropes, and Brontes, who were divinities associated with thunderbolts, lightning, and thunder. Finally Uranus fathered the Hecatoncheires, who were violent beings each with a hundred huge arms: they were called COTTUS, BRIAREUS and GYGES. All these children lived in terror of their father, who never allowed them to see the light of day but instead forced them to remain entombed in the depths of Mother Earth's body. She was determined to free her children, and asked them to exact vengeance for Uranus' actions; but none of them was willing except for the youngest, Cronus, who agreed because of his hatred of his father. Gaia then entrusted him with a very sharp sickle, and when Uranus came to lie with Gaia that night, Cronus cut off his father's testicles with one blow of his sickle, and threw them over his shoulder. The blood from the wound fell upon Mother Earth and fertilized her once again. As a result Gaia gave birth to the Erinyes, the Giants, the Ash Nymphs and other divinities also associated with trees.

After Uranus' castration, Gaia coupled with another of her children, Pontus, or the Wave. She then gave birth to five marine divinities: Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto and Eurybia. Cronus now ruled the whole world; and it was not long before he showed himself to be as brutal a tyrant as his father. He too imprisoned his brothers in Tartarus, with the result that Gaia started planning a second revolution. Cronus' wife Rhea had seen all her children eaten by Cronus, one after the other, because he had been warned he would be overthrown by one of them. When she was pregnant with Zeus, she went to Gaia and Uranus and asked them how to save the child she was carrying. Gaia and Uranus then revealed the secret of the Fates to her, and showed her how to cheat Cronus. Gaia concealed him at birth and hid him away in a deep cave. In place of the child she gave Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling-clothes, which the god devoured. In this way ZEUS was able to escape his father's greed and grow to manhood. Later, when Zeus began openly resisting Cronus, Mother Earth told him he could only achieve victory with the Titans as allies. Zeus then set them free, and in return they gave him arms - thunder, lightning and the thunderbolt - with which weapons he soon drove Cronus from his throne. Nevertheless, Gaia did not completely throw in her lot with Zeus. Displeased by the defeat of the Hecatoncheires, she coupled with Tartarus, the god who personified the abyss of Hell, and by him gave birth to TYPHON, a monster of prodigious strength, who declared was on the gods and held them at bay for a considerable time. Sha had another child by Tartarus, ECHIDNA, who was also a monster.

In other theogonies she was said to have been the mother of Triptolemus, who was fathered by Oceanus, her own son and one of the Titans. The giant ANTAEUS, who was Heracles' enemy, was also said to have been her son, by the sea-god Poseidon. Indeed, there was hardly a single monster that was not considered by one mythographer or another as the child of Mother Earth: CHARYBDIS, the HARPIES, PYTHON, the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece in the land of Aeetes, and even Fame, the monster Virgil described under the name of Fama.

Earth, the power and inexhaustible reserve of fecundity, gradually became known as the Universal Mother and the mother of the gods. As the Greeks began to personify their gods, Mother Earth became incarnated as divinities such as Demeter or Cybele, whose myths, being more human, appealed more to the imagination; while speculations about Earth as an element passed from the realm of mythography into that of philosophy. Gaia was credited with being the inspiration of numerous oracles, for she possessed the secrets of the Fates, and her oracles were older and even more accurate than those of Apollo.

{E2 DICTIONARY OF CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY}

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