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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89
votes
17answers
14k views

Are there logical gaps in the periodic table in which you could insert a new mystery element for use as a fuel?

As in the title. We have the modern periodic table: In a potential near (or far) future setting humanity discovers a new element which serves as the basis for a cleaner, higher energy density fuel ...
87
votes
13answers
23k views

Lembas bread (2000 Calories per bite)

In the lord of rings the elves invented an incredibly nutritious bread/biscuit, as Legolas clearly says only a small bite is just enough to satisfy the needs of an adult man for 1 day. An adult ...
74
votes
15answers
15k views

How Long Could an “Eternal” Fire Last?

How Long could an "Eternal" Fire last? At some point there is a fire very spiritually important to a certain people - so important that they build a city around it, and begin developing an empire ...
70
votes
14answers
16k views

Is it possible to make an alloy that melts at low temperatures and solidifies at high temperatures?

In my world I've created an alloy that can melt at low temperatures and solidify at high temperatures. This got me wondering, is something like this actually possible/does it exist. With most ...
68
votes
18answers
12k views

Mineral that explodes when cooling down

While playing old games, I encountered a friend I knew from SciFi series and games alike, the Merculite missile. While thinking about what Merculite might actually be (and linking it to a mineral from ...
68
votes
10answers
18k views

Is there a real life substance like movie acid?

Is there a real life chemical or compound that exhibits the characteristics of stereotypical movie acid? From what I know of most acid, it is usually clear or just a little cloudy, but I'm looking ...
58
votes
20answers
12k views

What could a self-sustaining lunar colony slowly lose that would ultimately prove fatal?

I've got a lunar colony that was set up to be self-sustaining before a collapse of life on Earth. The colony has survived on its own for several thousand years through a period of technological ...
54
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10answers
7k views

What could cause sugary rain?

In a world very similar to ours, rain has a high concentration of simple carbohydrates in it, enough to sustain life on the surface. After some rainfall, this sugary rainwater is left behind and some ...
50
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6answers
7k views

Could Cobalt bind to nitrogen the same way iron would to oxygen in an alien respiratory system?

I'm making this whole other alien world and I made it an ammonia world, so there is a lot of nitrogen in the atmosphere. Would nitrogen be a good gas to breathe in an ammonia world and would Cobalt be ...
46
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11answers
9k views

Time Warp: Modern chemist as court alchemist

Premise The premise is an adept modern chemist is transported back in time and is to serve as the court alchemist to a wealthy prince in the late 16th century. Assumptions: "Transmuting" gold is ...
43
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1answer
5k views

What would the periodic table of a 4-Dimensional universe look like?

In this question, I asked about a universe with (amongst other things) 4 large spatial dimensions. In 3 dimensions, we have the familiar periodic table with its familiar arrangement of atoms in the S,...
39
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5answers
4k views

Doing chemistry under water?

Aquatic races are usually assumed to be stunted in technological development by the inability to create fire or forge metals. But what about doing chemistry at all? The development of chemistry in ...
37
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7answers
6k views

What would be the necessary conditions to rain bubbles?

What would be necessary in order for bubbles to rain down from the sky, whether they are actually soap or something else? Would it even be possible? Aside from a bunch of little kids (which would be ...
37
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8answers
7k views

Are diamond berries possible?

Diamonds are carbon. Plants take in CO2 and use the carbon. Chemically, could the right kind of plant have diamonds for berries, or is there some other limiting factor?
36
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2answers
6k views

Only Three Books: Restarting Chemistry after civilization collapses

Global famines have dropped the population to 1 billion people and global civilization has collapsed. In an effort to save future civilization some time, you want to provide some information to kick ...
33
votes
14answers
9k views

How to replace a fictional element to the periodic table?

From what I know about the periodic table, in order to add a new element it would have to be above the current highest element. And up there this new element would be unstable. But could I just ...
32
votes
12answers
7k views

Solid material made from human blood

Is it possible to create a room-temperature solid made from 100% human blood? One of my stories features a girl who has the passive ability to block the superpowers of anyone in a 100-meter radius. ...
32
votes
12answers
7k views

What should be done with the carbon when using magic to get oxygen from carbon dioxide?

So, I'm working on a flintlock fantasy series, and my protagonist is what's called an Arcane Engineer. This is someone who makes magical devices. Among those she has made there is a mask that let ...
31
votes
7answers
16k views

A medieval fantasy adventurer lights a torch in a 100% pure oxygen room. What happens?

Exactly what it says on the tin. Kleeber the warrior is wearing a gambeson and carrying the standard adventurer's gear (leather backpack, 100ft of hemp rope, bedroll, spare clothes, waterskin, dry ...
30
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17answers
7k views

How could indestructible materials be used in power generation?

Background: In this scenario assume technology is initially equal to our own, but a method is discovered to render material indestructible. The affected material is treated as requiring infinite or ...
28
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6answers
7k views

The students have blown up the school using stuff that looks like snow. How?

In Hungarian, there is a new-ish folk-song sung by school-children who dislike school whenever it snows to the tune of Twinkle, twinkle, little star: Hull a pelyhes dinamit, Robbantsuk fel a ...
27
votes
8answers
7k views

What elements would be created in a star composed entirely of gold?

I'm working with the idea of creating a sun made out of pure gold. Of course, this would be completely man-made. Why would anyone want to do this? Because I want a cool concept like that in my story! :...
27
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15answers
5k views

Is there a material or method to allow “swimmable” coins?

I want to know whether there is a way to make coins that are "swimmable" in the fashion of Scrooge McDuck. My inquiry is based off this Family Guy meme from Pinterest The coins don't necessarily ...
25
votes
2answers
659 views

Hydrogenenic Photosynthesis: Strategies for animals

Hydrogenic photosynthesis reduces methane and water to build biomass ($\text{CH}_2\text{O}$) and releases hydrogen: $$\text{CH}_4 + \text{H}_2\text{O} + \text{photons} \to \text{CH}_2\text{O} + 2\...
24
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7answers
9k views

Chlorine Trifluoride as a Space Weapon?

Pretty self-explanatory. Could a spaceship use a "ClF3 Mortar" to fire copper shells at enemy vessels? At first glance, this seems like a good weapon: it can burn even in space and can set fire to ...
24
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7answers
4k views

What are some plausible super materials? [closed]

Background Science fiction is rife with "super materials". Most often the materials are made from elements unknown to Current Era (CE) science. They use names that make us think of elements without ...
23
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10answers
3k views

Realistic geological and chemical composition of an edible planetary surface

We all at some point in our childhoods thought that the moon is made out of cheese. As such, I thought: under what circumstances can a planetary surface form in such a manner that it is edible (and ...
22
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7answers
3k views

The Least Interesting Substance

There are many interesting places, many interesting worlds. This world is not one of them. It has an argon atmosphere, and the planet itself is made of a very unreactive, insoluble, extremely ...
22
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4answers
4k views

Is homicidal smiley gas possible?

In the 1989 Batman movie[1], My question is simple; is there currently, or is there a way to make, a chemical that can make someone "smile to death". I imagine that such a substance would cause the ...
22
votes
1answer
504 views

Plausibility of helium dominated atmospheres on super-Earths

I've been using this helpful diagram a lot for worldbuilding. Now I came to think about the fact that helium is more massive than hydrogen, thus a scenario where hydrogen escapes, but helium is ...
21
votes
16answers
6k views

Is it dangerous for a ship's crew to get stranded in a nebula?

Some Context I'm creating a universe where humanity has reached the stars. They've colonized a few star systems and, obviously, FTL drives are a common thing. The part of the story I'm currently ...
21
votes
13answers
8k views

How can I create explosions without using oxygen?

TL,DR: Kinetic weapons are great at taking down shields, but can't take out the hull. I need an explosive that works in a vacuum to take out the hull. Nukes are out, since they'll hit the atmosphere ...
21
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10answers
6k views

Assassin's bullet with mercury

This is something I have been wondering: if an assassin wanted to kill their target with a bullet from a sniper rifle, can they dip it in liquid mercury so even if the bullet itself doesn't kill them, ...
21
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10answers
4k views

How can I keep my Love Potion formula from being stolen? [closed]

I finally managed to make and test my Love Potion, and I'm ready to sell tiny vials at exorbitant rates. But I'm afraid someone is going to analyze it, and steal the recipe. Is there a way to lock ...
21
votes
5answers
7k views

How long would it take a body to decay and the bones to fall to the ground from a tree?

Death occurs in extremely high humidity and an average temperature of 23 C (~75 F), both of which continue for six weeks. At that time, temperature begins to fall over the course of eight weeks to an ...
21
votes
11answers
5k views

Could there be a material that inverts the colours seen through it?

I had a vision of a creature that touched things, and wherever it touched, it left a mark opposite to the original colour. For example when it walked across the grass the grass had red footprints, ...
20
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there any reason to use tungsten crucibles?

So, in my setting, there are dwarves that make good steel. Shocker, I know. To refine the ore, they rely on the bloomery process like everyone else, using anthracite (when they can get it), charcoal (...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Initial conditions for a fluorine hellscape

I'm curious what it would take to get a planet with so much free fluorine that you can have an atmosphere of predominantly or purely fluorine. I realize how improbable a planet like this is, so I'm ...
20
votes
6answers
382 views

What kind of “fog” could be harvested (and processed) for fuel?

In my setting, a permanent "fog" hangs over the ocean. It is thick, granting low visibility to anyone within it. Instead of water droplets, however, this fog would consist of some substance or ...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

A character steps outside in the upper atmosphere of Venus- how sunburned is he?

For complicated reasons our hero's blimp in the Venus atmosphere at an altitude of 50 km gets a tear in it and sunlight floods inside (there is no gondola, the blimp is a semi-ellipsoid of breathable ...
19
votes
8answers
6k views

Blue soil (aka dirt) in an earth-like planet?

How could blue soil exist, in a realistic earth-like world. The world may even be earth. First off is it even possible - could soil like this exist given the requirements below? (if not then why?) ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

Eating Titan's oceans

Imagine a Mark Wattney-like scenario, only on Titan and involving a decent-sized base being isolated instead of a single person. There is not, and never has been, the possibility of growing potatoes. ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Would a river running through a large salt deposit turn red?

I’ve heard that bodies of water boasting high salinities tend to turn red due to seasonal algae blooms. I have a river in a fantasy setting I’m working on that’s blood red year-round, and I want to ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Understanding which materials can be found on planets

I am making a science fiction computer game where you can travel between planets. I would like the planets all to have some kind of differing materials. Now I have no idea about which kind of "...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How would I transport an atmosphere?

An abandoned outpost from a long extinct race is discovered. It can easily be repaired and would make an ideal location for a colony, however it has been breached and any usable air has been long ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Could a microbe plausibly generate lift gas for manned balloon flight?

QUESTION I was thinking about ways of justifying practical balloon flight for a pre-industrial civilization, when I remembered that some microorganisms produce methane, and better yet, hydrogen. ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Starbuilding: What is lacking in the logic behind Cosmos 2 star system generation algorithm?

Preamble The Alternity Cosmos II is a complement to a dice role-playing game that uses heuristics based on hard-science to 'build' plausible star systems for the Alternity game: http://www....
17
votes
2answers
630 views

Regrowing body parts: What are the costs?

Everybody has seen superpowers like superstrength, flying, and regeneration. While flying and superstrength are quite straightforward regarding the energy cost, regeneration is not. In this question, ...
16
votes
12answers
5k views

Possibility of airless spaceships being used for manned space combat?

The setting I'm thinking of is in the not-so-distant future where humanity has become an interplanetary species using conventional propulsion. The solar system is largely colonized with human ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

Oxygen - 100% plant-free!

Context for Question The colonisation of the planet [ INSERT NAME ] was an enormous social experiment performed by the Terran Planetary Science and Terraforming Council; this previously-barren world ...