4
$\begingroup$

Ok, we have magic to solve all my problems but I want to find if I can solve this "the most cientific possible".

I have a world that turns out to be the earth but in a post-apocalyptic future (aeons far), that have a mountain-size meteorite that hovers at several meters above the ground, locked and stable.

Apparently is impossible to move the rock, it not affects the surroundings with some source of "anti-gravity" and is not possible to reproduce the effect even if you use a sample, a fragment of the rock, outside of the area of the meteorite's impact.

It is some type of source - and is not the gravity - that affects only the rock's material (maybe some really unusual substances only) and NOT affects any other objects.

I was thinking to use the "quantum lock" property, but how can be possible an material that could be have this property, in ambient pressure, temperature and in the earth's natural magnetic field? AND I know this quantum lock isn't strong enough to do this actually.

I know this material is unproved actually, but IF exists, what conditions I need to change OR add to this scenario?

Thanks everyone and sorry my poor english.

Updates

Thanks guys for the feedback, now I know I need to explain how my idea will be used in my fiction.

  • The Kingdom of Chrysos: Lies in a far north polar land between the biggest moutains of the world. The most rich of all of 8 kingdoms, they retain almost all extracted gold and others jewels of the world. Not because there are few of these riches outside the nation, but because are much many of them inside. But let's shorten this history. The capital is founded in an enormous crater, resulted of a impact of a big meteorite. Plus, this meteorite is floating above the city and on top of it lies the king's castle. This is the biggest castle of all kingdoms, that have so many buildings in there that looks like a small town made of gold and like in the "Lord of rings", "Erebor" - blame tolkien - there are many halls plenty of mountains of gold and jewels that flaunts the king's wealth.
  • The castle: Naturally protected, the castle have only one entrance, the "Bifrost" - a light-made bridge - and can be activated or deactivaded anytime, so with that the king - and his riches - are safe of any attack.
  • Below the meterorite: On the ground, where de meteorite seems to almost reach the land is a center of a lake, created by the fog that condenses all over the meteorite and drips on it.

Testing my meteorite

  • If you get a piece of the rock and leave it in the air, in any place inside the area of the impact, it will float locked in the air, exactly like the original rock. Actually, are many fragments of the rock floating around. BUT, if you try to replicate outside of the crater, the fragment turns like any ordinary rock.
  • A fragment of the meteorite is evidently easy to move around, and seems very dense. That explain a lot about the "impossibility" of move the bigger one.
  • Trying to figure out what the material is made of, we tried to reduce the material, that not shows much resistance to turn in a granular powder. But until now, all tests are inconclusive about the composition of the material. That seems to be a material never seem before on earth, but is clearly naturally formed.
  • Because this importance that "Skystone" (that is how they call it) brings, its common that the king's highest blacksmiths uses a small fragment of the meteorite to mix on theirs steel alloys to make spexial weapons. It not gives any advamtage to the alloy, in fact, it gives disadvantages since the piece has impurities, forming porosity which weakens the alloy. So, it is just for cultural purposes only.
$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ If you need the floating rock for your story, cool, make it so. The conditions you need to change are those that are needed for your story to be a good story. The conditions are not important unless it is essential to the protagonists solving a problem. What is needed in your case? You do not give enough information. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 1:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You won't be able to solve this with science, instead you would have to either resort to "technobabble" aka torsion flux fields and similar words that sound scientific, or plain magic. It's possible that that rock is VERY magnetic and hovers over some old forgotten superconducting energy storage which doesn't seem to expire yet despite lack of maintenance, this is the closest effect I can recall from science. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Mar 7, 2023 at 2:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I love the paradoxical feel of this. It reminds me of Douglas Addams' Vogon constructor fleet which "hung in the air in just the way bricks don't". But this is close enough to touch. Suppose you break a piece off and let go of it. Does the piece fall back to the rock, or does it fall to the ground? Even if we don't know how the rock is held there, gravity (or whatever force holds it) will have laws of a sort. Imagine what tests you would do if you were faced with such a thing. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @RichardKirk, I don't realized that, about testing my "great floating rock". I will edit my question. About your question, both no. If a piece of the object is let in the air it will float locked in the air. BUT ONLY INSIDE THE METEOR'S IMPACT AREA. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 20:32

5 Answers 5

8
$\begingroup$

What it is?

The best that I could though while still being scientifically plausible is that it is not really floating, is an Space Elevator built by the pre-apocalyptic civilization in their last glorious days!

It is not truly floating as you want, but perhaps, this is enough for you. It is actually anchored both to the Earth and to a distant weight in space by billions of very thin and almost invisible carbon nanochains made from quintillions of circular nanotubes linked in series with some cross-links horizontal chains between parallel vertical chains. Also, they aren't clustered in braids or cables, and instead, run parallel to each other separated for a few centimeters at least.

A white human hair, a fishing line, a spider thread or single cotton thread, if not braided, woven, rolled or entangled, are already between very hard to be seen and essentially invisible, so it is not hard to guess that a nanochain is orders of magnitude harder.

The nanochains connects the counterweight to your floating mountain and the floating mountain is connected to the ground by some other nanochains.

Look to the mountain! What we see?

The nanochains going out the floating mountain in direction of the sky are essentially invisible for someone standing a few kilometers in the ground. In the best viewing conditions, if they happen to reflect, diffract or absorb a small but noticeable quantity of sunlight, they would be seen as no more than a very thin haze over the floating mountain, something easily attributable to some other mundane atmospheric phenomena.

That's no moon!

The counterweight is a small moon (not the natural Moon) orbiting the Earth roughly 50,000 km over Earth's surface in a geostationary orbit although being significantly higher than the height where objects orbits the Earth in geostationary orbit. It is always directly over the floating mountain.

Further, the counterweight contains the machinery needed to rotate it clockwise or counter-clockwise as needed in order to minimize rotational torsion in the nanochains that could make them twist one around the another and form a single large cable instead of a lot of small parallel nanochains. It also have the machinery necessary to automatically correct its own orbit if it gets some eccentricity or don't lie exactly over the floating mountain. Since it is something with the size of a small moon, it have enough battery or fuel for running for billions of years, or better yet, it runs entirely on solar energy. Also it is actually populated by robots that are responsible for its maintenance and it also have a huge stockpile of spare parts.

You could choose if the counterweight is visible as a mysterious small moon that is always at the same place in the sky and exactly over the floating mountain, or you could paint it with vantablack or something similar to make it essentially invisible except perhaps for someone doing infrared astronomy.

The underside

The nanochains going to the ground are already almost invisible to someone standing just a few centimeters from them and knowing where to look. But this is in fact much worse considering the the underside of a huge floating mountain would be very dark as no direct sunlight or moonlight ever reaches there and the reflected sunlight from the surroundings reaching there is minimal.

It is also it is a very dangerous place, since the extended nanochains could slice anything pressed against them, including unwise people that go explore the area.

Ground-attached nanochains near the edges of the mountain could be visible in daytime. But there are no nanochains near the edges of the mountain, all of them are far from the edges. So, adventurers that enters a few meters below the mountain and then turn back without going all the way to the point below the center would be unharmed.

Trying to determine if it is a truly floating mountain or just a mushroom-shaped one is simple. During a sunny day, standing in any of its edges, it would be easy to see the green grass and/or the sky in all the far edges from the underside, proving that it indeed floats. However the interior of the underside is pitch black and the carbon nanochains there are too thin to be visible.

Further, you could paint the underside of the mountain and the ground below it with vantablack, making it yet harder to see the nanotubes.

What if I cut everything under the mountain?

If you cut every nanochain under the float mountain, it won't fall down directly. It would fly up instead!

The counterweight would try to compensate for that, but the mountain would float erratically over the Earth's surface until either crashing too hard in the soil, or perhaps crashing into the ocean or perhaps flying away into space. If it flies, it will very soon overwhelm the stabilization capabilities of the counterweight, meaning that it could fall down the Earth with violence and make the nanochains joining it to the counterweight snap, so the counterweight would likely leave Earth's orbit with a small chance of crashing into Earth instead.

Why a floating mountain for that?

It would be much easier and simpler to anchor the counterweight directly into an anchoring point deep down under the soil. But maybe a design with a "string of pearls", with huge rocks holding the cables together and being spaced several kilometers apart are better for some reason (ease of maintenance maybe). But why the first of such pearls (or perhaps the single one other than Earth itself and the counterweight) is only a several meters over the ground, that is up to you.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ It may be pedantic to point this out, but wouldn't this significantly alter the rotational center of this coupled mass? The earth would no longer rotate on center. Gravity would be significantly altered $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 12:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BrydonGibson no because compared to the planet this little satellite is irrelevant in mass. Earth-Moon already rotate around a point that's not the center of the earth and nobody cares because it's so miniscule. And that's our huge moon, the upper station could be far smaller $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 7, 2023 at 13:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why is it floating? It wasn't always, but the bedrock it was anchored to has eroded and fractured over the past 10,000 years. (A space elevator puts the ground in tension) To prevent catastrophy the auto-repair mechanisms laced the ground together with more nanochains. $\endgroup$
    – sdfgeoff
    Mar 7, 2023 at 16:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hey @VictorStafusa, thanks for it. I was hoping for a physics solution but you showed an engineering solution. I wasnt even considering that option. Thanks again. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2023 at 21:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok I haven't run the numbers, so I'll assume you're right, but it still has to be massive enough/pull hard enough to lift a significant mass off of the surface $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2023 at 20:45
4
$\begingroup$

Geosynchronous Orbit...

It's worth noting that that rock is moving all the time.

It appears to be locked in place above the ground. But the Earth rotates... and orbits... and the solar system moves... and the galaxy moves... So the rock is not motionless. It's only motionless in regard to the planet. In other words...

It's in very low geosynchronous orbit.

Is this plausible? Heck no. Geosynchronous orbit has minimum requirements to balance the force of gravity against the orbiting energies. Lower altitude than that and the satellite simply crashes into the Earth. But could it be believable? Sure! it's a rationalization that "scientifically" solves your problem because you can make the rock so heavy (dense) that it can't be moved by the technology of the day.

I say technology and not magic because with magic, anything is possible until you define the limits of your world's magic system. Further, you asked for the most scientifically plausible solution, which means magic can't be involved even to test the theory.

So, as implausible (or, insofar as we understand orbital mechanics, impossible) as it may sound, I'm going to suggest the rock is in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth — which allows it to not violate far more rules of physics by allowing it to move with the Earth, the sun, and the galaxy.

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Geosynchronous orbit has a minimum distance. Orbits aren't magical, they are a result of warped space. Basically, a region of space were if you go fast enough, you stay still. You cannot have that effect outside that region. That's like having the event horizon of a black hole, but without any black hole being there. $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 8, 2023 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Marvalice From my answer: Is this plausible? Heck no. Geosynchronous orbit has minimum requirements to balance the force of gravity against the orbiting energies. and So, as implausible (or, insofar as we understand orbital mechanics, impossible) as it may sound.... But worldbuilding isn't physics-lite and the OP didn't tag the post science-based or hard-science, so it defaults to science-fiction. There is magic in the OP's world, so the orbit being magical is, in fact, in play. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 8, 2023 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ this could be a matter of personal taste, but when technobabal is too specific, it breaks the spell for me instantly. For me, calling a situation like this "geosynchronous orbit" only makes me think about why this is one of the few things it cannot be. So the sweet spot would require more vaguery. But again, this might be a matter of taste. $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 9, 2023 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Marvalice In that you and I are in complete agreement. The trend/fad today is for young authors to be as "realistic as possible," without having first gained the education and experience themselves to be that realistic. Thus, they don't have the ability to know when they're going overboard. As an ex-publisher, you are entirely correct. Too much detail/realism turns a great book into a boring textbook. But... the OP asked for something sciencey. If nothing else this answer underscores why explaining magic with science doesn't work. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 10, 2023 at 4:55
4
$\begingroup$

Large ≠ Heavy

The meteorite is actually a very large maglev mountain-shaped balloon full of hydrogen.

Its rock surface is actually made of something very light like pumice, chalk or simply dust blown there by the wind, including in the underside. It is just a few centimeters thick.

But there is a secret: There is a huge high-tech complex hidden below the mountain.

Durable

The mountain membrane is made with graphene in order to be light and impenetrable. The graphene also acts as a faraday cage so a lightning won't ignite the hydrogen. It has a hard wireframe and the graphene layers are very stretched, so it don't appear fluffy. Also, the outermost layer is actually made of a sticky and wrinkled substance to ensure that it isn't smooth and that any rock over it don't simply slips down the mountain.

And even if it is actually punctured by a meteorite or by a cowboy with a shotgun, it's membrane have several layers like a bullet-proof vest.

Further, it is internally compartmentalized in millions of independent cells, so even if it is repeatedly punctured in a place and some cells fails, it still stands.

Position control

There are magnets in the ground and magnets on the underside of the balloon, similar to a maglev train, but those magnets are all pushing and maintaining the mountain into the same fixed position instead of moving it to somewhere else.

Altitude control

Since the maglev efficiency depends of the levitation height, this is why it is only several meters above the ground.

The maglev repeals it up until a certain altitude, then, it falls down. Further, the magnet intensity is adjusted by some computer. If the balloon is too high, the repelling magnets are weakened. If it is too low, they are strengthen.

If the maglev where to be completed turned off, the mountain would fall in the ground instead of flying around. This is necessary to ensure that it won't ever go away.

Secrets nobody can know

The ground below the mountain have much more than the electromagnets that maintain the mountain position. There is a full underground hidden facility there. One of its purposes is to store electric energy acquired by geothermal means.

The ground powers the mountain hardware with some type of invisible laser or maser.

The maglev is extremely powerful. In days with calm weather, it uses only a small fraction of its true power. Its true power is used in cases of hurricanes and severe storms.

In the extreme case, when the maglev can't withstand the hurricane or storm, I see no option other than making the balloon anchoring itself to the ground. This could be seen as a cheat, but let's say that no one was courageous or crazy enough to be near or under the huge strange floating mountain during a very strong hurricane, so nobody knows that. Also, you could workaround this by stating that the mountain is in a place where the climate don't allow hurricanes nor storms, like Atacama, Mongolia, Iran or Arabia.

Also, as the years passes, material over the mountain would erode down and reveal its graphene layer. So it applies another cheat here: The underground complex store millions of bird-shaped drones that grab pebbles, stone, dirt and earth nearby and glue them back into the mountain in order to counter the erosion. Further, even those stones and glue could be stockpilled in the complex.

Those drones only act at night when nobody is looking and stays outdoors only the minimal time necessary for their mission. Also, they just go outside in very small groups, so you will never see a swarm of them. If, by accident, someone actually spot any of them, it is just a bird. If any of them malfunctions and fails, other birds will grab the "body" back to home or destroy it if it can't be bought back. In extreme cases, the bird also have self-destruct mechanism that will burn down itself into finely grounded coal dust so its true identity would be preserved. They can also make some other deep repairs to the hardware inside the mountain through hidden entrances if it is needed. If after many and many years, a lot of them have failed, there is still millions of them stockpilled and ready to be activated.

Hydrogen compartments could also be repaired by the birds. There are millions of spare hydrogen compartments stored in the underground complex. They don't need to be all prefilled with the hydrogen as this gas could be acquired by electrolysis of some water pumped with an underground hidden tube from a nearby river or sea.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

MAGNETIC LEVITATION

Magnetic levitation is used today in maglev trains and other uses. There are several variations.

For one, aluminium will float in a rotating magnetic field, and a magnet will float above a rotating aluminium disc. However, both of these methods require energy for the rotation and induce heat in the levitating object.

You can also float a dipole magnet above another dipole magnet by aligning magnetic poles (north to north and/or south to south), but it has been conclusively shown that no configuration exists where this is stable.

Stable magnetic levitation can be achieved by or by using diamagnetic materials or superconductors (which basically are very efficient diamagnets). Diamagnetic materials include water and many organic materials such as wood, and mice have been successfully levitated above a superconducting magnet. The effect isn't very strong, except for superconducting magnets. You can most easily levitate a magnet or a strongly diamagnetic material like pyrolitic carbon above a superconductor. You can even stably levitate pyrolitic carbon above an ordinary magnet, though the record weight levitated in this way is only 780 g.

You best bet will be to levitate a strongly magnetic asteroid (perhaps nickle/iron) above an extremely powerful superconducting magnet buried underground. This could feasibly be an art project from before the apocalypse. It should, however, be noted that magnetic force declines by the cube of the distance, so you couldn't levitate the asteroid very far, and it should probably be flat rather than tall. The superconducting magnet could feasibly be hidden beneath a thin layer of what looks like natural rock.

It will however take little effort to discover the strong magnetic field, which will attract nearby iron and affect compass needles from quite a distance. Chips of the floating asteroid will also display magnetism. Strong magnetic fields as in medical scanners can also cause temporary nausea and dizziness and a metallic taste in the mouth, and these effects will be felt by people closing in on the floating mountain.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

I was thinking at first you might do something with altered space, such that the area the mountain is floating in is a sort of "false bottom", acting like the ground in ever way except that if you moved it, it would fall towards the "true bottom". Thought if it is only the mountain, but also includes parts from the mountain around it, Im not sure this would work. It's an idea though.

(A false bottom is a pretty simple concept. Basically, things "want" to be in their lowest energy state. This is why things fall towards each other, it's why gasoline burns into water and CO2[which hold less energy than gasoline], and why matter becomes more solid as it cools.

These are all things moving into lower energy states. A false bottom is when something is in a state that is higher energy, but in order to "fall" any further it needs to have more energy put into it. Like if a weight is on a shelf, it "wants" to be on the floor, but the shelf is a false bottom. You need to put in enough energy to knock the weight off the shelf for it to escape, and fall to the floor. Gasoline is actually also a false bottom, because you need to add heat to get it to burn.)

$\endgroup$
2
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hey @Marvalice, I like this idea. It is enough clever and simple, that it becomes beautiful. This false bottom is interesting. But how can we use it? Is possible to, in some way, the impact of the meteorite create some form of this false bottom? I think well need to use magic for it :v $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2023 at 11:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think it has poetry to it. $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 8, 2023 at 13:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .