Background: In the year 2204, humans have colonized most of the inner solar system. During the first explorations of the vast outer system, a team of researchers uncovers a series of alien artifacts. These devices are capable of global atmospheric and solar manipulation. However, their size is the most shocking factor.

They are small enough to fit in one's pocket.

How is it scientifically possible to produce this much capability in a single object of this size? Keep in mind that the aliens are at approximately Kardashev 1 level; they are not yet at Dyson swarm-nanotech level.

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    $\begingroup$ I have pocket size device called a pair of sunglasses which is capable of solar manipulation; when I put them on the sun's luminous intensity drops a lot. I also have another pocket size device called a collapsible umbrella which is capable of atmospheric manipulation: namely, it stops rain. I didn't know that sunglasses and umbrellas were clarketech. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ Edited to improve clarity; the devices are capable of globally manipulating conditions. In response I say; :) $\endgroup$
    – Lelu
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ hard-science and science-fiction in the same question seems like a bad match... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ Hard science at all seems quite inappropriate here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to remove the hard science tag as it doesn't seem possible to answer this with hard science. Feel free to edit the question and restore the tag if you think it does need hard science. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 8:40

3 Answers 3


The devices are the controllers not the engines

Through relatively low energy communication they control a vast array of machinery scattered throughout the solar system, cold and thus yet to be detected.

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    $\begingroup$ You beat me to this answer by one second :P $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately this is a hard-science question, therefore answers need to include equations or references to papers. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan you want a reference to prove that remote controls are plausible things? I can suggest US Patent 613809. The question didn't ask for details or plausibility of the atmospheric or solar control systems, after all. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ This is in fact the only answer that’s even remotely possible under the hard science tag, unless I miss my guess. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs That's why I dismissed my speculative "Dimension-compactification" tech as a potential answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 21:40

The aspect of these items which projects into our 3d space is small. The items are not.

Multidimensional space is a favorite of mine. Additional spatial dimensions beyond our familiar 3 spatial and 1 temporal is not wacky magic; mathematics easily describes additional spatial dimensions although physics struggles.


In addition to small and curled up extra dimensions, there may be extra dimensions that instead aren't apparent because the matter associated with our visible universe is localized on a (3 + 1)-dimensional subspace. Thus the extra dimensions need not be small and compact but may be large extra dimensions. D-branes are dynamical extended objects of various dimensionalities predicted by string theory that could play this role. They have the property that open string excitations, which are associated with gauge interactions, are confined to the brane by their endpoints, whereas the closed strings that mediate the gravitational interaction are free to propagate into the whole spacetime, or "the bulk". This could be related to why gravity is exponentially weaker than the other forces, as it effectively dilutes itself as it propagates into a higher-dimensional volume.

Your items have only a pocket sized component projecting into our dimension. They have much more to them. Perhaps they are hexeracts, a cool word I learned just now.

Moving such an object depends on how the physics works and how the 3d component we perceive is connected to the greater whole. I would argue that it is impossible, from our planes, to impart a vector which rotates such an object along one of its higher dimensions. That does not mean that such a force might not be imparted to the object from a higher dimension, in which case the pocket sized object might disappear, or suddenly and drastically change shape and size. Maybe don't actually carry these in your pocket.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I guess someone had to, and your version is better than mine would have been. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 23:01

When Edward Lorentz first described chaos theory, it was heavily misunderstood. Von Neumann famously admitted that he thought what Lorentz was describing would permit global climate control within a decade. It was only much later that realized that such attempts to adjust the climate would be like giving a well shuffled deck of cards an extra shuffle. You can be certain that you changed your odds, but you don't know whether it is for better or for worse.

But what if von Neumann was right? Decades later we learned about mathematical techniques to control chaos. These are clever tricks to perturb chaotic systems to force them into predictable orbits. It's the fancy mathematical version of balancing a broomstick inverted on your hand. If left on its own, the broomstick will fall, but with you constantly observing and correcting, it remains in a steady state.

These approaches can be very low power, though they may take a lot of time to change large systems. Obviously, the faster they can change the system, the more demanding it will be to maintain it. But they do work.

They call for incredible understanding, however. If anything must be modeled stochastically, disorganized complexity rather than organized complexity, then it becomes increasingly hard to combat the random influences. However, if one has modeled everything, including the sun, with sufficient fidelity, one could entrain the entire solar system into doing what you will.

Of course, two of these boxes competing would wreak havoc. One can only assume that they are all in communication with one another and a tremendous amount of skill has gone into deconflicting the effects each individual seeks.


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