Questions tagged [energy]

For questions about sources of power, generation, storage, how much is needed to perform different tasks, etc.

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96
votes
26answers
30k views

How to survive the heat death of the universe?

The eventual heat death of the universe is an awful time to be alive considering you wouldn't have long left after the last star finally fades away. In this scenario there is a small group of about a ...
85
votes
21answers
14k views

How to monetize free energy without revealing its existence?

Just last week while developing a new CCTV camera system I accidentally produced a free energy generator. I know, what are the odds? So now I'd like to make some money. Unfortunately, this device is ...
80
votes
16answers
11k views

Can stars that are not powered by nuclear fusion exist?

Stars generate their energy by fusing lighter elements into heavier elements. The most common reaction in Sun-like stars is the conversion of hydrogen to helium via the proton-proton chain, but ...
73
votes
19answers
15k views

How can Elsa's power fuel my Industrial Revolution?

As a Duke in the Kingdom of Weselton, I've been commanded to exploit the riches of our trade partners and cement our dominant economic status. It was my good fortune to attend the coronation of our ...
71
votes
14answers
8k views

How to harness Jupiter's gravitational energy?

I am currently orbiting Jupiter, the rent is pretty cheap and the view is magnificent. However, my former electricity provider refuses to connect me to earth's grid for petty reasons like "are you ...
44
votes
5answers
7k views

What are the safety margins for destroying a planet from space?

My empire's flagship, the Persecutor class UJBHE1 Abhorrent, rides into the home system of my greatest enemy, Baron Obsequious, levels its Death Ray2 at his beloved home, and pulls the trigger.3 ...
41
votes
20answers
9k views

What could be the right powersource for 15 seconds lifespan disposable giant chainsaw?

Imagine when a jet fighter swoops in to drop a 400 pounds giant chainsaw to you just so that you can use it to grind down one problematic enemy into a pulp then discard it a foot away from you. What ...
40
votes
19answers
4k views

With current technology, what would be the best way to store energy for future generations?

Let's say that the world has successfully converted and only depends on renewable resources for our home energy needs. In fact, we have a massive surplus - currently in the form of raw electricity ...
39
votes
22answers
9k views

What would be the ideal power source for a cybernetic eye?

After nearly a decade of development and public prototypes, the Mizaru company is ready to unveil the cybereye. A fully cybernetic eye that provides its user/host with high definition vision, enhanced ...
38
votes
14answers
7k views

In a post-fossil fuel economy, what could natural gas pipelines be used for?

The United States (as well as many other countries) is covered in a vast network of tubes: These tubes vary greatly in diameter. Some could hardly fit a baseball, while others are large enough to ...
35
votes
13answers
10k views

Is a food chain without plants plausible?

Suppose there was a world on which evolution and natural selection took an odd turn and never produced an organism that could be considered a plant by our modern definition, but which still produces ...
27
votes
12answers
4k views

What is the best way to use my two portals?

To avoid being too broad, I'd like to use the portals for purely altruistic purposes (health, environment, safety), and not for scientific or military acheivement (e.g. - not an instant space elevator,...
26
votes
8answers
6k views

Would it be realistic to store energy using gravity by elevating buildings?

The basic idea is that a building (house, business, etc...) would be on a type of foundation that would allow it to be lifted into the air (not by a lot, I'm thinking inches at most) to store energy ...
26
votes
5answers
2k views

Solar flares: “the week the earth stood still”

I've been hearing and reading about that solar flare in 2012 that could have sent us back to the 18th century, by causing huge geomagnetic storms which would have prevented (every?) electricity-based ...
25
votes
27answers
8k views

Is it possible to have battery technology that can't be duplicated?

I'm creating a near future world where one faction is using high energy density batteries that enable their vehicles to outperform gasoline based technology. Like cold and silent aircraft and ...
25
votes
11answers
4k views

How would relatively cheap and abundant (but not free or limitless) electrical energy at an up-front cost impact society?

A group of scientists has been slaving away largely in obscurity for two decades, with very few publishable results. Suddenly, one of them has an epiphany, which turns out to be instrumental to ...
24
votes
13answers
5k views

Justifying the use of directed energy weapons

In my scifi setting I want a broad range of slugthrowers (bullets, smart ammo, grenades,...), exotic weapons (flame/chemthrowers, high tech blades, nano-bots,...), and directed energy weapons (heat ...
22
votes
17answers
5k views

Shooting an energy beam into the Sun (from the Earth) in order to destroy it

This question is about a fictional scenario where an evil suicidal scientist has built a high-energy weapon somewhere on earth. His intention is to shoot a beam of some form of energy (or high-energy ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

Power plants — literally

It is well known that some organisms can produce electricity. Therefore I think it would not be too much of a stretch to assume that also some plants might have evolved that ability (after all, it ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

What are the main problems with beaming light from the Sun to Saturn?

I recently finished reading the Kim Stanley Robinson novel 2312 - set, of course, in the year 2312. Part of the background to the political negotiations and ongoing terraforming in the outer Solar ...
20
votes
1answer
4k views

How do I feed my black hole?

Strange title I know, but you'll understand why quickly. I wanted to use a black hole to create absurd amounts of power for hopefully obvious reasons (kind of useful). The problem with natural large ...
19
votes
7answers
3k views

A Trillion Unruly Gods

Imagine that we live in a setting where there are a trillion humans (see linked question). A bit crowded, I know. Further imagine that at least the entire energy output of the Sun was available to ...
18
votes
5answers
5k views

What would a life-form be like if it's antimatter-based

I've been thinking of the idea of creating and adding an alien species that's antimatter-based (being from a universe where antimatter became the majority instead of "normal matter"). However, I'm ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Would solar cells last?

Post-apocalypse how well would photo-voltaic solar cells hold up? They are solid state so I expect they would do okay for a while, but would they remain functional for 100+ years. I know that dust ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

Would the existence of magic accelerate or slow heat death?

I could see this question being asked on Physics SE as well, since it concerns the law of conservation of energy at its core. Wizards in the world of Harry Potter seem capable of almost effortlessly ...
15
votes
11answers
4k views

Assuming magic is a source of energy that wizards have access to, how would they “bleed off” the energy when not using it?

So in many worlds, magic is a source of power that magic users can draw upon and "do stuff with" - make elemental effects (fire, cold, lightning), heal wounds, shield from arrows, light rooms, etc. ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Entry requirements for a Type n civilization

This question about genetics (not required reading) contains the phrase "science of a Type II civilization." This got me to thinking: although we intuitively know what this means, does this actually ...
15
votes
5answers
884 views

How might kinetosynthesizing “plants” look?

Suppose that there is a moon, orbiting a gas giant, and that gas giant is a rogue planet - it moves freely through the universe, unbound by the gravity of a star. This means that one, the moon will ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Energy source for a generation ship

A generation ship was sent out a long time ago, to colonize a far away planet. However the ship failed to reach its goal due to navigational issues (which also means they didn't have any clue where in ...
14
votes
9answers
3k views

How to heat a windmill ? (Mechanical to thermal energy conversion)

Finally, I have done it. I have bought a large and beautiful four bladed windmill. A smock mill to be precise, really high and all functional. There is the whole ancient machinery in it, completely ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

Renewable energy in space

I'm working on a story set in a generation ship traveling through the stars. Its propulsion is a solar sail, which will accelerate it over many decades to a substantial fraction of the speed of light. ...
14
votes
5answers
556 views

How much energy did it take for God to part the Red Sea?

EDIT Why this is a world-building query. If I had framed this as, "In my world where magic requires the expenditure of energy, a powerful wizard decides to open a path through a large lake,etc. The ...
14
votes
3answers
469 views

How efficient can my neutrino detector be?

In a class discussion last week, someone pointed out that a typical core collapse supernova releases $\sim10^{46}\text{ J}$ of energy in the form of (anti-)neutrinos while only radiating $\sim10^{44}\...
13
votes
11answers
3k views

Off-planet energy production - what would be best way to supply this energy planetside?

What would be the best way to send energy that is generated outside the Earth's atmosphere, possibly in the asteroid belt (nevermind the means), so that it can be used on the surface of the planet? ...
13
votes
14answers
2k views

What are the risks with massive banks of batteries/capacitors?

In redesigning a large number of my ships, I've decided that having larger ships generate enough power for FTL was too convenient and made balancing the factions varied FTL methods difficult (both for ...
13
votes
5answers
655 views

Solar recycling or: How to keep your star from dying

I was in the shower the other day thinking about the sun going Nova, you know...like you do, and a thought occurred to me: Could you turn the sun into a stable, mostly closed system? Some details ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Would it be possible to use geothermal energy on mars?

If we were gonna develop a colony on mars would it be possible to explore geothermal energy and would it be viable? (Assuming we could transport the required equipment) Edit: Recently I found this ...
13
votes
2answers
627 views

How Efficient Could Anaerobic Megafauna Be?

Obviously, if available, atmospheric oxygen is a great source of energy. However, I'm surely not the first worldbuilder who wants an alien species which doesn't depend on it (whether due to having ...
12
votes
8answers
3k views

How would an energy-based “projectile” blow up a spaceship?

I have noticed this in many fictions: during a battle between spaceships exchanging fire in empty space, a pulse of laser fire hits the hull and the entire spaceship explodes into many pieces. Is ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Can wind power run heavy weapon factories on Mars?

One thing that has always bothered me in robot-controlled AI stories is that there is always the assumption that the AI would choose to fight a conflict against humans on Earth, where humans dominate, ...
12
votes
4answers
346 views

Does it make sense to have a type of energy generated from stars that humans could absorb for magic?

In the sci-fi/fantasy novel I am working on, my magic system currently works based on of a fictional type of energy that is created by stars and expelled throughout the universe, like UV rays and that ...
12
votes
5answers
460 views

Constant artificial light

Is a scifi setting of constant artificial light everywhere plausible? I'm thinking to the point that the average adult person has not gone out of a city and has no experience of general darkness (...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the caloric requirement of a fire spell?

Let's take this image as our fireball in question: And let's further assume that it travels about 30 meters before burning out (twice the range of a WWII flamethrower) and travels at the speed of 20 ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

How much power can you send via a laser through the atmosphere without catastrophic effects?

Assuming that you had: some sort of amazing power plant on the moon that can create an unlimited amount of power a similarly amazing solar panel on earth that can receive an unlimited amount of power ...
11
votes
13answers
6k views

Hypothetical energy source with higher output than Dyson Sphere

For my Science fiction and Fantasy genre book, I need an energy source whose energy output should be much more than even a fully functional Dyson sphere. Can you please suggest some hypothetical ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

Could a species evolve a special organ that stores pure energy & allows it to control its own magnetic field?

Could a species, over centuries of evolution, evolve a special organ that stores pure energy and allows it to control its own magnetic field? What possible steps would have to happen for this to occur?...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

What does a small fusion reaction sound like?

I am familar with current reactor (experimental) fusion reactor design. But imagine a fusion reaction happening without a reactor, so there is no reactor hull to shield the sound from an innocent ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

What would be the consequences of overusing a magic system that consumes energy from human metabolism?

For my world, I wanted to create a reasonable and consistent magic system. Well, since I'm not a fantasy type, the result was something people should concentrate on, in which, the resource ("mana") is ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a way to buy oil from a country under embargo?

I have a situation where a large oil field is discovered in a country ruled by a junta with abysmal human rights records. On the one hand world oil prices are very high, which puts pressure on ...
10
votes
8answers
2k views

Can Zeppelins and Blimps replace cars in the future?

It would be cool if this entire planet could use zeppelin roadways instead of tarmac roads. Especially for countryside transport away from cities. A zeppelin for one person is about the size of a ...