Questions tagged [civilization]

For questions about groups of societies and their defining characteristics and achievements.

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64
votes
14answers
11k views

What would be left of a civilization founded in dinosaur times?

65 million years ago, a mass extinction event (likely caused by the Chicxulub Meteor) wiped out the dinosaurs, and their remains were hidden from us for millions of years. Humanity was not around ...
25
votes
7answers
6k views

What is the minimum size of a self-sufficient industrial country?

Imagine there is a country in which there are all important natural resources (oil, gas, metal ores, wood, etc.) in their natural form and which lies in a temperate climate region. There may be some ...
14
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4answers
2k views

How long can the human civilization traces be detectable?

Suppose human race in its current state disappears at once, every human being, leaving everything the humanity has created. All the other forms of life remain. How long will the civilization traces ...
29
votes
11answers
15k views

How long would it take to remove all trace of a civilisation, with malice and intent?

If you look at the history of the earth today, we've got quite a long timeline - about 4.5 billion years. We've got a few hundred years of 'good' historical record, and it gets progressively more ...
27
votes
14answers
4k views

How does a migratory species farm?

On a world I am building, the day and night cycle lasts 9 years, resulting in the majority of animals migrate across the planet. One of the problems that my sapient races (one on the out going night ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

base-12 numeral system

What could drive a human civilization to use base-12 system? As far as I know there have been such civilizations and they probably used their phalanges to count (instead of their fingers). I have ...
40
votes
5answers
8k views

Only Three Books: Restarting Physics after civilization collapses [closed]

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 ...
36
votes
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 ...
27
votes
5answers
5k views

Humans born without legs: how would they thrive?

or, Anatomically Correct Weebles A group of behaviorally modern humans was cut off from the rest of the earth-like planet millennia ago. (Myths hold that the separation occurred four to five ka BP, ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the earliest that a civilization could develop airships?

Assuming a technological progression roughly similar to that of Europe in our world, what is the earliest that a civilization could have developed rigid-frame airships? For example, one could imagine ...
9
votes
2answers
763 views

How would the relics of extinct human society affect future civilizations?

My story (same world as here) take place in a future Earth between 3 and 5 million years in the future. What kind of artifacts, if any, would civilizations from this era find from the now extinct ...
-4
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4answers
242 views

Can an alien civilization develop if it didn't have a sense of greed?

Let's say that an intelligent life form develops on another world. This species is somewhat similar to us, differing only in that it doesn't have a sense of greed like us (it's not part of their ...
31
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13answers
9k views

How “advanced” can a stone age society get?

I'm working on a world where, with very few exceptions, metalwork is not possible/unwanted, and I'm trying to figure out what major differences one might see in daily life, and what would be necessary ...
28
votes
15answers
5k views

Could a civilisation exist as 'space-nomads'?

In a civilisation similar to humans (although not necessarily humanoid) living on a planet the size of Earth, could the whole civilisation (no limits on size, although I was thinking a few thousand at ...
15
votes
7answers
5k views

How can we extinguish a supernova?

Assuming in a galaxy far far away there is a Type 2 civilization (currently on the verge of making the transition to Type 3). Their scientists predicted that the star (red giant) they are orbiting is ...
25
votes
21answers
7k views

How can I have a permanent post-apocalyptic world?

I've recently been looking into post-apocalyptic settings for a possible novel. I like the feel of people trying to survive off of the land with nothing but the clothes on their back, or banding ...
24
votes
7answers
2k views

On a planet without seasons, how would people track years?

On a planet without axial tilt and with a roughly circular orbit, there would be no seasons. The climate on the planet would be, as far as I can tell, exactly the same at any time of year, and the ...
15
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16answers
3k views

Can civilization development occur completely without faith?

Could a civilization grow or develop to advanced levels if they don't hold religious beliefs? I have just watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Who watch the watchers" (season 3, episode 4). It ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How could a society be based off of the rules/conventions of an RPG? [closed]

EDIT: I have since revised my question so that it [hopefully] more closely adheres to community guidelines. I am trying to jumpstart a thought-experiment that would attempt to create a society whose ...
8
votes
1answer
912 views

How would an intelligent race on a methane world achieve a fire equivalent?

Linked: What would the conditions on a methane world be like? What would animal life on a methane world look like and how would it evolve? Background: Okay, an intelligent race has evolved on a ...
7
votes
3answers
303 views

Duplicating people to expand a civilization

Context "God games" are organised, in which a hundred immortals participate. Each "God" are given an alternate dimension. These dimensions are all identical and contain an Earth where Humans didn't ...
4
votes
5answers
655 views

Food economy of pre-civilization carnivorous humanoids

Imagine a race of humanoids who only eat meat, and are unable to digest vegetables. Is it possible for these humanoid to be able too create/gather enough food(meat) to the point that job ...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

What early tools might be devised on a planet where diamonds were abundant?

It seems likely that if life evolved to the point of civilization on a planet where carbon diamonds were not a scarce luxury resource, but rather a plentiful mineral as accessible as copper or iron ...
111
votes
21answers
19k views

How does a species who cannot distinguish left from right build their cities?

Fran is on holidays to planet Earth. She is having difficulty coping with the local geometry. At this second Fran is thirsty. She can see a lemonade stand nearby. She knows a human would have no ...
46
votes
15answers
6k views

What are the primary triggers for the decline and fall of great empires?

Let's focus specifically on the devolution of empires. How is it that something so powerful falls? The collapse of Rome, Byzantium, the Han, the Mayans and so on. What similarities can be seen in ...
62
votes
13answers
8k views

What sort of problem would drive a near omnipotent civilization to seek an “outside the box” solution?

The Setup A while back, I read an article in which the author compared the rise and fall of civilizations in the universe to a forest. In the forest, small plants come into being, grow, and die over ...
39
votes
29answers
10k views

Why would a crash landed generation fall back to the stone age?

Background In the mid 22nd century, a super plague has killed 99% of human life, many survivors are killed in the ensuing riots and fighting. The few billionaires that are hiding in their bunkers ...
36
votes
15answers
11k views

What methods might an ancient civilization use to desalinate sea water?

Following on from my previous question here concerning the ancient civilization I have called the Androy and their struggle to survive terrible drought conditions on their planet. After years of ...
53
votes
20answers
14k views

Would a fighter pilot with an invincible space ship be able to conquer the galaxy?

Setting Not so long ago, in a galaxy not too far away, there were two civilizations at war. Both were at war because the leaders of both wanted more and more power. Both were advanced and mined the ...
32
votes
21answers
7k views

Warrior caste in an utopian society: what would keep them peaceful for centuries?

There is an Earth-like planet with human-like inhabitants. After almost destroying the ecosystem with weapons of mass destruction, toxic waste and such, the civilization changed to survive and an ...
30
votes
14answers
4k views

Can two civilizations on nearby stars develop independently but be at a similar technological level?

One thing that a few science fiction films seem to get wrong: it is extremely unlikely for two civilizations to evolve completely independently and yet be within a few hundred years of each other ...
24
votes
8answers
6k views

How could a human civilization have happened to live underground, in Antarctica?

Let's assume a human civilization have been living for centuries, nay millennia, in a very large cave, not too deep under Antarctica - deep enough not to freeze, but shallow enough not to die because ...
22
votes
30answers
6k views

Could a civilization achieve spaceflight without inventing advanced weaponry along the way?

The question is fairly simple. Could a civilization progress so far as to have spaceships while still using swords, spears, and bows as their most advanced weaponry? (what those weapons are made of ...
42
votes
16answers
9k views

How do you tell time on a world with 9-year days?

On my world, the day lasts 9 years: 4.5 years of light, followed by 4.5 years of dark. The inhabitants of this world survive by migrating along the ring of dusk and dawn. How do these people tell ...
29
votes
14answers
6k views

Is it possible to rule a galaxy without mastering teleportation?

I would like to know if a very advanced civilisation could rule an entire galaxy without mastering teleportation or any other method that allows traveling faster than light (unless you give ...
26
votes
33answers
10k views

Why would a scientifically advanced future community believe in multiple gods?

Polytheism was a common form of religion in ancient times. People believed that different gods lived and controlled various parts of nature (ie the sun, the moon, thunderstorms), and praying to these ...
58
votes
26answers
7k views

Why would a civilization outfit buildings with separate portals for entering and leaving them? [closed]

Human buildings usually have one or more doors which combine the function of an entrance and an exit, emergency exits being the only notable example I can think of, albeit designed for contingency use....
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Could a civilization as advanced as humans exist on a planet/dwarf planet like Pluto?

Could a civilization exist on a planet/dwarf planet like Pluto? It is so cold and barren. Is it possible? What would they live off? They don't have to be humanoid.
9
votes
2answers
643 views

Stone Age Circuitry?

As a tangent to How "advanced" can a stone age society get?, is there a way that simple electronics could be created by filling channels cut into rock with some form of conductive material? ...
4
votes
4answers
636 views

The world that was split in half

Imagine there is a planet, which is populated by two entirely different intelligent species (though they may have some very distant common ancestor), but they are isolated from each other by some ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

At what minimal technological level would the inhabitants of a binary planet system need to be to communicate with each other effectively?

In the event that both planets of a binary planet system were life supporting, and both ended up developing a sapient, tool using species, at what technological level would they be able to start ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Materials in a tidal water world

I'm trying to create a people that live on this rolling tide (see previous question or on 'millers planet') but I haven't figured out where they would get wood to build their boats/homes. If the tide ...
5
votes
0answers
573 views

What would be the consequences of an exploratory group discovering a more advanced civilization? [closed]

The European explorers who came to the Americas were much more advanced than the Native Americans living there. To the Europeans back in the day, they most likely assumed they'd be more advanced than ...
4
votes
5answers
332 views

Civilization on a diamond exoplanet?

If humans discovered a diamond exoplanet and then traveled there, how would they set up civilization on a diamond exoplanet? Everything needs a foundation, even on low-gravity planets (below 9.8m/s^2)...
3
votes
4answers
347 views

Reasonable starting population?

Here is something a bit more rigorous related to my Kepler Bb Civilization I thought 100 humanoids transported with these criteria: 1:1 male:female ratio No children below 15 No ill or otherwise ...
13
votes
6answers
850 views

Atlantis and Sewage

How do underwater cities (with aquatic human-like citizens) handle sewage? What type of technology would be possible to use underwater in order to take care of the mess?
9
votes
12answers
782 views

What would cause an entire space-faring civilization to “expire”

Let's say there was a Type II Kardeshev Scale civilization that suddenly went extinct. Why would the entire species just die out? An added condition is that they knew of their impending destruction ...
7
votes
2answers
363 views

Only Three Books: Restarting Medicine in 1801

Famines have dropped the population to 1 billion and global civilization has collapsed. In an effort to save future civilization some time, you want to provide some information to kick start ...
7
votes
4answers
619 views

What would change with transmission of knowledge and ability through touch?

The concept of a "spark" is our shorthand for an idea describing some neural nets in your body (well loosely anyway), its a catch-all for anything that can be an electrical response. Some of the ...
4
votes
1answer
406 views

Underground City scenario: Unpredicted earthquake

If an earthquake happens, will people underground be in more danger than people above ground or not? I can think of several pros and cons for each: Stay underground Pros: Minimum risk of ...