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Q&A

General Q&A about worldbuilding and other speculative developments that can be extrapolated from science.

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Is it realistic to see satellites moving across the sky centuries after humans stopped space activity?

After an age of highly developed technology, including many different satellites in various Earth orbits, humanity loses the technology needed to control those satellites. After many centuries, how...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by celtschk‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Green‭

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Why would a race constantly deafened by ambient noises still hear?

In a story that I'm writing, there is a giant waterfall which flows down a cliff face. The waterfall is extraordinarily large, and the torrents of water which flow over the side are deafening. Beh...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by ajekb78‭

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Would a huge amount of asteroids hitting Earth change its rotation speed or destroy the planet?

Earth's rotation is slowing down, and in this article Randall Munroe gives some ideas to accelerate the rotation - or at least to keep it from slowing down as quickly. He concludes that the only "s...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by hkotsubo‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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Is it possible to create a beam of non-relativistic neutrinos?

Neutrinos have extremely low masses, and it's quite easy for them to reach high energies and speeds. As such, it almost always makes sense to treat a neutrino as being relativistic. I've been doing...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by HDE 226868‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by dmckee‭

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Could a high-pressure, low oxygen atmosphere reduce fire risk while still being breathable?

Years ago I read a letter in a magazine suggesting a method for reducing the fire risk in an enclosed environment such as a space shuttle. The idea was to reduce the oxygen concentration to the po...

1 answer  ·  posted 12mo ago by Pastychomper‭  ·  last activity 11mo ago by dsr‭

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Could a habitable planet lit by the cosmic microwave background plausibly exist?

I've got this idea of a rogue planet that is moving that fast through the intergalactic void that the cosmic microwave radiation, thanks to the Doppler effect, actually provides enough heat that it...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by celtschk‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by dsr‭

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Centripetal Burn in Orbit

Imagine a spacecraft in a highly eccentric orbit. Say the craft burns at periapsis towards the planet such that its orbital eccentricity does not change and the craft's periapsis moves with the shi...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Josh Hyatt‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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How do you establish identity when people can change their appearance at will?

Building on the universe established in this question, what happens to identity verification when someone's physical appearance and genetic code are modifiable at any time? Review of universe rule...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Green‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Pastychomper‭

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Magnet strong enough to rip the iron out of your body feasible?

Is it possible, given a strong enough magnet, to rip out iron based molecules out of the blood stream/body of a person/animal? Would such an event be the thing that kills someone or are there other...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Cazadorro‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by DonielF‭

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How efficient can a Dyson sphere be?

The shell variant of a Dyson sphere consists of an artificially-made shell of material about 1 AU in radius encircling a star. The sphere captures most of the star's energy and stores it for future...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by HDE 226868‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by celtschk‭

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Could grow lights on a massive scale replace 100% of sunlight for 100% of the growing season?

In a world where pollution and population have drastically reduced the effectiveness of sunlight to grow food, would light-panels be capable of completely replacing the sun? The problem I'm trying...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by JBH‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by KalleMP‭

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Composite armor based on diamonds, could it work?

Under normal circumstances, monolithic diamond is pretty terrible at resisting impact, due to it being weak in certain planes, also known as cleavage planes. To solve this, why don't we just make ...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Mr. Mistoffelees‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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What conditions would cause an extremely dense (dark) coniferous forest to grow?

It is said that in dense rainforests, only 1% of sunlight (sometimes less) reaches the forest floor, which greatly restricts the types of plant and animal life that can survive there. My (limited) ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by xtal‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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What Factors Could Cause a World to See "Northern" Lights Much Closer to the Equator?

I'm currently designing a world where the inhabitants see the Aurora Borealis on an almost nightly basis almost all the way to the equator. The lights are so strong they rarely see the stars beyond...

4 answers  ·  posted 8y ago by Liath‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Canina‭

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How to reduce tornados in the US Great Plains?

How could I modify an alternate Earth to have less tornados in the American Great Plains area known as Tornado Alley? Maybe make the Rockies lower? Introduce an east-west range of mountains or high...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by Aaron‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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Price's Law Sanity Check

Price's Law is a hypothesis that in an organization, or across an industry, roughly half the productive output is being generated by a number of people equal to the square root of those participati...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by James McLellan‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by dsr‭

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How do I realistically keep my large mammalian predator hidden from other pack hunters.

What coloration pattern/ technique could a large mammalian predator employ to evade detection from other mammalian predators at 100 -&gt; 20 meter distances (or close enough so that it could sprint...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Cazadorro‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Lundin‭

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Avoiding Incidental Ion Drive damage to Following Vehicles?

Is it possible for a large enough Ion Drive with enough power to be dangerous to other objects "down wind" of the vehicle, even at long distances (100+km)? As I understand it, ion drives accelerat...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Cazadorro‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by dmckee‭

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Competently Mobile Photosynthetic Animal?

I have an idea for a land based mobile organism that moves and uses photosynthesis for its primary means of energy generation. Can a motile organism conceivably get enough energy from photosyntheti...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Cazadorro‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Cazadorro‭

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Restricted Directions for an Alcubierre Drive?

It's my understanding that if an Alcubierre drive were to be constructed, it would be able to function as a time machine because there would be certain paths through you could take to get to a dest...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by FlyingLemmingSoup‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by lsusr‭

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How would an interstellar spaceship's speedometer work if everything else is moving?

A speedometer is a gauge or device used for measuring instantaneous speed of moving vehicle roughly speaking, so for example the reading shown on the speedometer of a car parked at road side displa...

14 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by user6760‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by James McLellan‭

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Why would merfolk have hair?

A classic image of mermaids are their long flowing hair that swishes in the water. But in the scientifically realistic sense this makes none. The hair would be nothing more than a nuisance to the m...

21 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Uncle Tres‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by PinoBatch‭

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Considerations for Recreational Solar Sailing?

I was investigating a few ideas on recreational solar sailing, and came up with some interesting things - The primary equation in solar sailing is $ F = {{2 R S A} \over {c}} \sin^2{\theta} $ Whe...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by James McLellan‭

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What are the Ground Effects of the South Atlantic Anomaly?

I was recently introduced to the South Atlantic Anomaly. As I understand, for satellites and space craft, this is a natural feature that can wreck space craft by taking even computers designed fo...

0 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by James McLellan‭  ·  edited 8mo ago by James McLellan‭

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How to protect intelligent fluids from heat damage?

So, Second Earth had/has a firearm problem. Since my magic is really just advanced science, I can't create firearm-disabling fields, so instead, I created a spell that should be able to ruin firear...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Mr. Mistoffelees‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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Is the Caspian Sea becoming smaller since the industrial revolution?

It might be that between year 0 to the industrial revolution (say 18th to common era), the Caspian sea significantly larger than it is today. If so, is there some graphical illustration as part of...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by deleted user  ·  edited 2y ago by deleted user

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How do I manage memetic infection while time traveling?

Time travel works...just invented, by you. The tests prove it! After many conversations and significant planning, your epidemiologist significant other has approved your plans for time travel, for...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Green‭

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Plausibility of "multi-type transmissible animal cell tumor" to form more complex structures.

There's apparently a type of transmissible cancer that came from new world dogs thousands of years ago, the Canine transmissible venereal tumor. As I understand, this self replicating surviving ca...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Cazadorro‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by sox‭

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Would a 200-Pound Dwarf Still Need to Wear Clothing?

How does a Neandertal compare with an anatomically modern human? This diagram below is a simplification of the real answer: The average Neandertal male stood 64 inches tall, weighed 143 pounds an...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Enfield‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by pnuts‭

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What would the sky view be like of a final stage massive merged galaxy?

What will be the view of the sky and the distances between stars, living on a planet or in a habitat in a super galaxy that has merged with all its nearby galaxies in its cluster, at a time in the ...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by RandySavage‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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How to make an animal which can only breed for a certain number of generations?

What would be the best way in which to genetically modify (or create through some other method) an animal which breeds normally for a certain number (50?) of generations before becoming sterile? Ge...

13 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Richard Smith‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by James Jenkins‭

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How Would the Sport of Wrestling Change in a Microgravity Environment?

How would competitive wrestling change in a microgravity environment?

2 answers  ·  posted 3mo ago by James McLellan‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by trichoplax‭

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Meaning of Non-Locality?

Theory If I am understanding this history of this correctly, in the 1920s the mathematical process of converting measurements with a certain amount of measurement error into numbers, then doing yo...

0 answers  ·  posted 3mo ago by James McLellan‭  ·  edited 3mo ago by James McLellan‭

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High-Energy Exhaust Shielding for Far-Future Drive

Imagine a far-future spacecraft drive that accelerates its reaction mass to a small fraction the speed of light (say, 1,000 km/s). Say the mass flow rate to the drive were 1kg/s, and say the reacti...

1 answer  ·  posted 12mo ago by Josh Hyatt‭  ·  last activity 8mo ago by James McLellan‭

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Could a laser using a "light capacitor" rather than a battery work?

The way this would work is by creating lasers &amp; pumping them into a chamber where it can't escape. The power for the lasers to be created is made either with a generator or by charging using an...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by pootis‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Olin Lathrop‭

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How would utility fluids move and stay together?

The concept of utility fogs is actually pretty old. The idea is a swarm of fairly small micromachines (about 100 micrometers in length) that would be able to mimic most materials and objects. Each...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Mr. Mistoffelees‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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Wings going from locomotive purposes in juveniles to sexual purposes in adults, plausible?

So I thought about how my dragon-like species would get it's wings between the arms and legs and I figured that this would be the evolutionary path for such a creature: Hexapodal ancestor -&gt; Q...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by caters‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Lundin‭

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Black as color of magic

I am trying to create "black magic" with a visual black effect with lore backing (it is for PC game). How can I create this effect, either optically or neurologically? I am not talking about hue ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Prahara‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Aliza‭

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How large would be the habitable area in a tidally locked planet?

The planet is identical to Earth except for one twist. It is not axially rotated but has an elliptical orbit, causing longer, planetwide winters. I would just like to ask what the width of the hab...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mister Onion‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Mister Onion‭

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Do seasons occur on a tidally-locked planet?

I have done some research and so much contradict one another or I simply fail to understand. Do seasons occur on a tidally locked planet that isn't tilted on its axis?

4 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mister Onion‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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Is a genetically modified human with a much higher height plausible?

I've created a genetically modified race of humans with an extreme height. I've taken into account the cube square law, and added some bones and muscles to help cope with that. I'm planning on maki...

3 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Popplio Lover‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Razetime‭

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How long would a planet that losses its gravity take to break up?

In my setting, one of the fallouts due to interstellar war between civilisations is that a planet's gravity can be removed. This capability is part of the setting's hyperspace mechanics so the exac...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Dave Driver‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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How fast would strange matter conversion go?

Background: So this Kurzgesagt video talks about quark stars, and how two of them colliding could send strangelets flying towards Earth or the Sun. Now it's been said that since, theoretically (as...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by Nierninwa‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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Could there be something like the Higgs field which gives particles their energy in a similar way to how the Higgs boson gives particles their mass?

First of all, in no way do I have advanced knowledge of particle physics, quantum mechanics, or any other necessary scientific concept for a full understanding of this question. Secondly, this is p...

1 answer  ·  posted 3y ago by Aeroan‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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Would there be any major disadvantages for a species to have six legs instead of four?

I want a world in which animals roam the wilderness on four legs, yet at least some of them are able to do the kind of carrying and fine handling of objects done by humans. The planet is superficia...

13 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Canina‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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What is the most efficent way of killing prey much larger than yourself?

The title sums it up pretty well - I'm basically trying to envision the ultimate predator of much larger prey. A couple of requirements: The predator must weigh 44 kilograms or more (Megafauna) ...

14 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by SealBoi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by KalleMP‭

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How can the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram be used in star building?

As you can probably guess from the title, I have some questions about the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, especially how to use it to make plausible stars. Some questions: Can stars exist in the bl...

3 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by Sam Coutteau‭  ·  edited 2y ago by HDE 226868‭

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Exploration of a 50 mile high mountain

My friends and I are building a world with a 50 mile high volcano on it. The mountain is the result of some bored god deciding to play a joke on everyone. Or, some other god got angry and decided ...

6 answers  ·  posted 5y ago by Green‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Canina‭

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What impact is required for a visible (from Earth) ejecta plume on Earth's Moon, and would the Moon survive?

Take the Earth-Moon system as we know it. Now, something causes a large rock to be lobbed in the direction of our moon. Exactly how that happens is deliberately left unspecified; it could be everyt...

3 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Canina‭  ·  last activity 6y ago by Canina‭

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The evolution of neon kittens

Given the existence of neon kittens with: the internal properties and mentality of normal kittens bioluminescent fur. What evolutionary process outside of intentional human breeding/gene manip...

5 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Green‭  ·  last activity 7y ago by Green‭

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