Questions tagged [chemistry]

For questions that have to do with chemistry, chemical reactions be they biological or artificial, or the industrial processes of chemistry.

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Could hypothetical cells use liquid Carbon Tetrafluoride as an alternative solvent to water?

Setting aside how this might evolve or come to be, could a cell use liquid carbon tetrafluoride(CF4 becomes liquid below -130 Celcius) as a solvent instead of water? Assume that the cells work ...
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2 votes
4 answers
103 views

How could hypothetical Fluoride-based cells synthesize methane?

For a thing, I am trying to make a detailed model for fluorine based life, starting with the cell. As an alternative to ATP energy, I have chosen the reaction CH4+(4)F2 ==> CF4+(4)HF, I just can't ...
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2 votes
2 answers
511 views

My creature mixes lye and sal ammoniac to cool its blood. How cold can its blood get before it stops working as blood?

Background information: According to various sources, the human heart pumps 5 liters of blood/minute at rest and 15-20 liters of blood/minute during running or exercise, 6,000 to 7,500 liters of ...
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6 votes
7 answers
979 views

Storing bulk metals for centuries

If you are building a megastructure like a Banks Orbital, it will be necessary/useful to provide it with reserves of various useful metals for the use of the civilization inhabiting the structure. ...
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3 votes
4 answers
89 views

Oxidized alkaline planets?

Obviously, it is possible to have a planet with an oxidizing and acidic surface environment--just look at Venus! But is there a plausible natural way to get a planet with an oxidizing but alkaline ...
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2 votes
1 answer
81 views

How does my symbiotic fungus silicify its own cell walls to armor its host's bones?

Fungi have cell walls which - unlike those of plants, which are made out of cellulose, xylan, and lignin - are instead made out of chitin, glucan, and mannans. A fungus I'm planning on writing about ...
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5 votes
3 answers
183 views

What chemicals would an atmosphere unbreathable by humans (yet allowing alien life to thrive) contain?

(first question, hi!) At the moment, I am trying to bring a planet which contains an atmosphere that can barely be breathed by humans (14% oxygen to be precise), to life. This planet is abundant with ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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silicon based chemosynthesis?

How could chemo-synthesis work with silicon based life? I'm making a project with silicon based aliens,they breathe fluorine instead of oxygen and they breathe out both hydrogen fluoride and silicon ...
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9 votes
2 answers
179 views

what color would a pure sulfuric acid ocean be?

On a planet with no water or oxygen or anything to react with the sulfuric acid, what color would an ocean of it be? I know sulfuric acid is clear, but water is also clear, and oceans are blue, not ...
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9 votes
6 answers
3k views

Does a Hell train running on brimstone have a smokestack?

I’m in a pinch to finish up my story’s cover art and I don’t know if my train has a smokestack, logically. This train runs in the planet Hell (see note) and uses liquid sulphur for the steam cycle. ...
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5 votes
5 answers
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Getting around in Hell when you can't fly?

As a follow-on to my physical Hell planet I am having a great deal of trouble deciding which sort of locomotion people would use when they are not in airships or on the train. People need to get ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Why do people blow up here?

My organolithium environment planet needs to be chemically stabilized But I don't know which compounds could physically evolve on a planet to form an atmosphere and seas wherein humans would ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Chemistry without oil

I looked through some posts discussing worlds without oil. Those posts mainly focus on fuels and transportation. But I realized that the distillation of oil produces lots of organic compounds - ethene,...
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3 votes
3 answers
294 views

Earth with a high concentration of atmospheric ethyl alcohol

Suppose you have an Earth-like planet which (for reasons completely unrelated to the question) spontaneously generates and maintains an atmosphere with an atmospheric ethyl alcohol concentration of 1%....
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6 votes
2 answers
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How can I get mostly-hydrogen-sulfide seas (with lifeforms in them)?

The lifeforms don't have to use hydrogen sulfide as a solvent. Maybe they've got an internal water-ammonia eutectic mixture or something; anyway, it doesn't matter. The point is, I want an ocean of ...
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6 votes
5 answers
548 views

How do I ensure my piranha solution chemical weapon will only eat the target and not me?

I want to use piranha solution to kill a large, horrible thing that I really don't like. Piranha solution is an acid that makes organic substances not exist and can dissolve elemental carbon. You ...
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2 votes
2 answers
130 views

Can it ever make sense to breathe sulfur?

Another question like this one inspired by Iceworld. Along with having bodily fluids based on copper chloride, the Sarrians from Hal Clement's Iceworld are described as breathing gaseous sulfur. Even ...
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12 votes
5 answers
3k views

Could a biological creature get oxygen from oxide rocks or by breaking down H2O?

I was curious if some biological creature, natural or engineered, alien or Earth-born, might technically be able to get oxygen from oxide rocks. I was similar curious if you could atomically break ...
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4 answers
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Chemical component that would be dangerous (existential threat) when liquid, but safe if it evaporates?

The story I am writing takes place in a world where someone invented time travel. This technology, and the control of anti matter is only available for the creator (and the protagonist that helps him)....
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4 votes
1 answer
85 views

What kind of world could produce polyoxometallate life?

There has been some cool work in synthetic life to produce cells based on polyoxometalate ions, certain metal oxide complexes have been shown to have autocatalytic behavior, and heteropolymetalate ...
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3 votes
1 answer
68 views

Chemical phase separation in liquid salts?

This may just be a straight-up chemistry question, but it's got a distinctly world-building motivation, so... Hal Clement, in his novel Iceworld, posits the existence of hot-world aliens living at ...
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4 votes
2 answers
209 views

Unforeseen Consequences of Limiting Nuclear Fission

From my understanding nuclear fission takes place in two different scenarios and correlates with the speed of a neutron. In terms of material, we have fissionable material which undergo nuclear ...
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3 answers
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How to make air more electrically conductive without making it unbreathable?

I need people to get zapped more often in my world. Zapping others with electricity must be a more viable option than it is in our world. Shooting cables at people to zap them? Nah....I prefer the ...
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14 votes
5 answers
3k views

Are there any heavier-than-air gases that could be made using medieval tech and have military applications?

I am trying to find a gas that would be used as a weapon, which could also be made by someone in a medieval setting. The gas doesn’t have to be explicitly deadly, but anything that would incapacitate ...
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8 votes
1 answer
111 views

How could a human habitable planet naturally have a Titan like haze?

Apparently the earth had a methane haze in its early history, but of course this would not have been habitable to us as the atmosphere would have been toxic. You would need enough of something to ...
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6 votes
6 answers
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How to defeat a pyrokinesis user using tech and science

The user can manipulate fire in many ways, and to a certain extent, he can also manipulate electricity. The fire he uses is special and can reach temperatures above sun, but the average temperature ...
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-6 votes
2 answers
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A periodic table planet [closed]

Background There was this bored god that had nothing to do, and was tired of looking after earth due to all of the stupid wars that the humans got themselves in, so he got something that humans had ...
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0 votes
3 answers
110 views

Superconductive Fluid to substitute blood for a biomachine?

So my biomachine person, who will go by bob for the question, his very unique. He has machinery replacing half his organs and skeleton. Bioengineered cells work alongside and support the mechanical ...
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6 votes
4 answers
219 views

A substance that would cause a human to explode if eaten, but not your pet

I have a scene where a little girl has a pet. It could be a dog, cat, bird, monkey, whatever works for the scene, it just has to be something that humans keep as pets. She is feeding the pet with a ...
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3 votes
4 answers
189 views

How do you prove whether there are four elements?

A person from our world visits a (low magic) fantasy universe. Now, obviously our hero considers our world's science to be more advanced than the pseudo medieval world he finds himself in. But he ...
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16 votes
2 answers
4k views

What size is the largest known molecule anywhere in the universe?

I understand that generally, beings get as big as the thing(land, sea etc)they live on or in however another celestial object can interfere with size, like the moon and ppl got smaller. But can a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
127 views

A creature that turns all water near it into slime

I have an idea for a creature, and I want to figure out if it's possible. I'd rather not handwave it with "magic", so, here I am, asking the Stack. The creature is eel-like, and is capable ...
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6 votes
6 answers
1k views

Paper or Ink that naturally degrades in a month or less?

The end result is that a delivered envelope or the writing on it is designed to completely decay within 2 weeks to a month, ideally through natural processes caused by the type of materials used, so ...
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2 votes
2 answers
103 views

What can we infer about a creatures that uses some kind of oil instead of water for our cellular fluid?

Is it feasible to envision a biology where oil is the main "solvent" (not sure if this word is chemically accurate). Whereas humans are 80% water, these guys would be 80% "canola oil&...
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5 votes
3 answers
223 views

A chemical process that creates sapphire bones

To quote Logan R. Kearsley's answer to this question regarding stronger-than-normal bones for making big but proportionate humanoids: And if you wanna go a little further out there... Sapphire ...
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8 votes
1 answer
277 views

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Limpet-Style Metal Superbones

Some context, right off the bat: I am a mad scientist. This means that evolution has been defenestrated; as such, I am not interested in determining what evolutionary pressures might lead to the ...
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8 votes
1 answer
170 views

An ocean of mud?

The Transgalactic Guide to Solar System M-17 by Jeff Rovin features, among others, the planet Morana, which is described as having oceans of "mud". Obviously, this cannot be normal mud such ...
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5 votes
7 answers
2k views

What matter could I use in a dangerous fictional chemical chain reaction, would turn instantly into something harmless once teleported into space?

I am writing the end of a scene, but I have some trouble making the set up believable. My character is looking for a way to stop a machine that will explode to destroy life on (the) earth. She is ...
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1 vote
2 answers
252 views

With contemporary technology, is it possible to produce a propellant for bullets that is stored as a liquid but that solidifies upon exposure to air?

I found this question on Worldbuilding Stack Exchange. A part of it interested me; specifically, the part about how, in Jay Dee's setting: Guns are more efficient by use of liquid ammunition that ...
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2 votes
3 answers
163 views

What are the chances of finding uranium-238 ores on other planets?

I was thinking about aliens and space colonization and what the probability is of uranium ores being found on other planets. Would they be common? rare? medium? who knows? the cosmic abundance of ...
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1 vote
2 answers
151 views

Biochemistry of a sulfuric acid world?

Much like the Cannonball world with iron carbonyl seas, Stephen Gillett, in the book World-Building proposes a world with sulfuric acid seas and oxygen atmosphere, with life based on silicone (...
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-2 votes
1 answer
99 views

Could Osmiridium alloy be used as armor plating? (Hypothetical, cost does not matter.) [closed]

I would like to know if it is plausible. I would also like a rough estimate of the force that a 1 meter x 1 meter Osmiridium alloy beam could take before breaking.
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3 votes
3 answers
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How to build an installation that utilises a perfect filter to get gold from the oceans?

In A perfect filter spell. What knowledge could it bring? I described a magical filter. The common suggestion of filtering out metals (specifically gold) dissolved in water has been wracking my brain. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
81 views

Lava consistency under the sea? [duplicate]

I'm curious. Is it possible for lava to maintain it's molten character on the sea floor for long periods of time? I'm talking about a river of lava on the sea bed. Obviously this is really stretching ...
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5 votes
2 answers
127 views

How could fluoride salts occur naturally?

I've been looking around the internet but I can't seem to find out how fluoride salts would form naturally. My end goal is for my planet to have a mildly high concentration of hydrofluoric acid pools, ...
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5 votes
3 answers
112 views

How can I use sensory details to convey to the reader that something is being digested in acid? [closed]

I have a scene where a slime monster engulfs a person and begins digesting them by secreting acid. This scene is being viewed from the perspective of another person standing some distance away. I ...
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1 vote
2 answers
123 views

What are the chemical characteristics of a chemical weapon that kills in the short term and melts biomatter into slurry in the long term?

This substance must: be usable as a chemical weapon (i.e. deliverable via bombs, shells, mines, grenades, canisters, mortars, etc., and won't explode/denature/etc. when you synthesize it) within ...
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5 votes
2 answers
179 views

Foamy scar formation

Imagine a world, a world several hundreds of light-years away which humans have promptly colonised. These interstellar pioneers land on the mysterious planet which they call home, only for them to see ...
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2 votes
4 answers
84 views

How to neutralize that noxious monster blood

Listen closely my apprentice, as this may well save your life! Or your customers, rather. And line your pockets to boot. We follow the story of a daring young adventurer, on a quest to defeat the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
99 views

Silicon carbide composite for bone [closed]

First things first, I came across this interesting article after which I stumbled upon this mysterious composite of an aluminium oxide and silicon carbide. Specifically stating this on wikipedia: &...
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