Questions tagged [engineering]

For questions about the use of engineering to create structures and devices in other worlds, including whether or not a device could be made or what materials would be needed to make a device.

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11 votes
6 answers
3k views

Is this diesel gun concept feasible?

Inspired by this question here regarding the possibility of gasoline firearms. On a world that is equivalent to the Late Victorian Period technologically where smokeless or even black powder was not ...
Seraphim's user avatar
  • 4,783
10 votes
8 answers
4k views

Could Mermaids Tear a Warship's Planking?

I had an idea for a story, where mermaids sabotage a ship during the age of sail. I wanted to ask for advice on it, and if it makes sense. Perspective would be especially helpful, since someone told ...
ArchduchessFerdinand's user avatar
2 votes
4 answers
365 views

How viable are Airborne Aircraft Carriers on my alien world?

I have made a world that is a massive flat plane, with the surface gravity and atmospheric pressure of Titan, but a composition similar to Earth. There is one race, humans. Humans have a problem ...
Zautech's user avatar
  • 75
3 votes
2 answers
122 views

Is it possible to melt regolith from lunar orbit with an energy beam?

Is it possible to melt regolith from lunar orbit with an energy beam? Suppose we wanted to create landing pads, building foundations, and roads on the moon that were relatively free of lunar regolith. ...
user4574's user avatar
  • 3,683
11 votes
2 answers
5k views

How large would the LHC be if room-temperature superconductors were available?

I am trying to get my head around scaling of an element in the world I'm working with, so this question may give me some perspective, that I in no way have. If we had working room temperature ambient ...
Gillgamesh's user avatar
  • 5,828
4 votes
1 answer
154 views

How would you build RingWorld? [closed]

Larry Niven's RingWorld is supposed to do a complete revolution around its central star in a matter of days: about 9 days, assuming a ring of Earth size orbit, providing a 9.81m/s² "gravity" ...
xenoid's user avatar
  • 209
3 votes
3 answers
431 views

Effects of TCO metamaterial on recoil

Triangular Cylindrical Origami (TCO) is a metamaterial that is able to turn a compression wave into a tension wave. This cancels out the force of an impact, but does nothing for the momentum. ...
Seraphim's user avatar
  • 4,783
6 votes
6 answers
1k views

How would a travelling civilisation mass produce products like computers and clothing? [closed]

Some info: The civilisation travels in a magical, unpredictable, and irreversible way through a magical item. They can only travel from a world once, so they can't constantly bring items through ...
value1's user avatar
  • 111
8 votes
4 answers
2k views

How to recreate a "land" harp that can work in the deep sea?

Once again, I am asking questions based on my as of yet defined highly-evolved, human-derived "merfolk". But this time, I'm going towards deeper waters-- let's say about 5000 meters below ...
Thunderhammer's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
260 views

How would you get a ship out of a gravity well?

Context I'm helping a friend with a hard sci-fi story and we ran into an issue. In this setting the technology for absurdly powerful and efficient fusion drives which seem not to have heat managment ...
Shift_register's user avatar
7 votes
9 answers
3k views

Can a device that causes memory loss be created with near-modern technology?

I am creating an alternate history world that leads to modern Earth having many different nations & cultures than it has in real life. One country is big on funding many extreme experiments to ...
Rhymehouse's user avatar
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19 votes
10 answers
4k views

Would it be possible to make a brass/wind instrument with a jet engine as the source of airflow?

As the title says, basically. Could you have some kind of musical instrument powered by a jet engine? It could be an organ, or a tuba, or whatever, it doesn't matter. I'm understanding and open if the ...
ConnieMnemonic's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
107 views

Space station maglev junction design

I'm designing a city building game in a huge 3D (without any notion of "top" or "bottom") space station (or rather, a space city). There are various functional buildings (vertices) ...
SOFe's user avatar
  • 398
6 votes
3 answers
2k views

How bullet resistant would a person be who is 80 times more durable than a regular human?

The tensile, shear and compressive strength of all their tissues, including bone, skin, muscle, etc., is multiplied by a factor of 80. They are also very buff and so have a large body volume. How ...
Daniel Mazdak Honar's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
151 views

How to increase the structural integrity of comets (for the purpose of moving them)?

Suppose there is a comet of radius 500m made of mostly ice, with the rest being rock, dust, and other frozen gases. The comet is being hollowed out in order to use the water as reaction mass (giving ...
theogonzalles's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
276 views

Could a solid metal, tapered, segmented whip with a tip of equal mass to a 5.56 round produce fire arm like ballistics if cracked? (Not on the ground)

The whip would be around 10–11 feet long and most likely made from some steel alloy. If we were to ignore the strength limitations of humans and assume that someone could actually effectively use this ...
Tanner Ferguson's user avatar
18 votes
5 answers
7k views

Are stainless steel railway tracks worth it?

In How long would it take unused railroad rails to corrode below usability?, we are asked how long railway tracks would last, and in my answer, I show that while ordinary steel railway tracks are ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
  • 59k
1 vote
0 answers
218 views

Non absurd way to lay a cable over light years of distance [closed]

This isn't entirely hard science but bear with me. (Prologue) In the near future, a series of increasing heavy elements are synthesized building on the theory of islands of stability, incredibly ...
MegatheriumMegafauna's user avatar
8 votes
7 answers
2k views

Expanding a modular space-station for 100 years

The Mir, ISS, Tiangong, Skylab, the numerous Salyut-missions...Space-stations are one of the most impressive and interesting feats of modern engineering, which in my opinion, makes it even more tragic ...
NimRad's user avatar
  • 1,120
8 votes
2 answers
301 views

What is different about nocturnal humans' European manor houses?

Edit: Originally I asked this question about "houses" in general, but several comments made it clear to me houses was too broad a scope. So I've edited this question to restrict it's scope ...
Fictotum's user avatar
  • 319
3 votes
3 answers
705 views

The late-victorian nuclear-thruster

Nuclear fission! How hard can that be? Nuclear reactors have been quietly humming under the earth's surface only a few billion years ago after all. It's very convenient then, that my planet's quite a ...
NimRad's user avatar
  • 1,120
1 vote
0 answers
108 views

Motivations for creating "brainstar" bioplanets [closed]

I define a "bioplanet" as any single organism that completely covers the surface of a planet. In my scenario, humans pass Kardashev Type I status and build a Matrioshka brain around the core ...
Strava Ostetnis's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
266 views

Designing barrier to stop only non-hooved animals

We have barriers that stop hooved animals by taking advantage their hooves fitting into slats between metal bars/rods, meaning they refuse to pass the barricade because it limits their mobility. ...
KEY_ABRADE's user avatar
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16 votes
18 answers
8k views

Is it possible to design a bottle that can always be "full"?

The people in my setting (urban fantasy, starting in 1998 America and moving forward) have a bit of an engineering dilemma they need to work out regarding potionmaking. The magical substances they ...
Cyrus Drake's user avatar
  • 8,007
11 votes
8 answers
4k views

The Topography of Madness: Why would my lighthouse be designed with noisy, maddening switches? [closed]

My world is dead and mostly unexplored. And at the end of the known world, there is a beacon which serves that singular purpose: warning anyone approaching that beyond this point, there is nothing ...
Vogon Poet's user avatar
  • 8,179
3 votes
2 answers
81 views

Believably Enhancing Actuator Machinery Performance through Ground Detection Techniques in Articulated Mechanical Racehorse Hooves

My hero is an ingenious technician held captive in a pirate enclave and serving them in the mechanical maintenance of their steampunk race horses. Similar to pod racing in Star Wars I: The Phantom ...
Vogon Poet's user avatar
  • 8,179
-1 votes
2 answers
90 views

Feasibility Of An RTEG-Powered Unmanned AFV With 1970s Technology?

The title says most of it. We would be assuming a pretty much unlimited R&D budget, and the vehicle to be remote-controlled or automated. EDIT/CLARIFICATION: Could an RTEG power an APC-sized ...
Trurl50's user avatar
  • 17
12 votes
4 answers
3k views

Feasibility of a 5000km tall orbital tower using active support

Note: I'm working on a far future sci-fi setting for a novel series which aims to blend elements of both "soft" and "hard" science fiction concepts. I'm aiming for the series to be ...
Nemactual's user avatar
  • 195
5 votes
5 answers
1k views

Is it possible to melt icebergs for water at below the cost of desalination with 1960s/1970s technology?

(i'm going to use dollars for cost because i don't really want to figure out currency conversions for the in world currencies) In this world people need water, a lot of water. But in areas that don't ...
OT-64 SKOT's user avatar
  • 4,162
9 votes
7 answers
2k views

Super broad gauge railway vs double wide/multi track railway

So here's the scenario, a mad scientist has just managed to take over the continent on his campaign for world domination (which continent I will leave to your imagination but for simplicity lets say ...
Tyler Phelps's user avatar
27 votes
12 answers
5k views

What is the longest bridge that a Bronze Age society could build across a bottomless chasm?

My world is in the mid-Bronze Age, very loosely based on ancient Mesopotamia. Metal is scarce and generally of poor quality, and the only iron available is meteoric in origin. Gold is relatively ...
catalogue_number's user avatar
4 votes
6 answers
3k views

Can You Make A Tiny Nuclear Reactor By Employing Supercritical Conditions For Brief Periods Of Time?

The idea is that you would have pieces of plutonium or U233 close enough that if left to their own devices they should go supercritical in a fraction of a second. However, in between the pieces you ...
Vakus Drake's user avatar
  • 2,528
4 votes
4 answers
334 views

How Effectively Could You Use Magical Darkness As A Compact Heatsink?

In this setting materials science is decades ahead, so answers should be limited by technology that isn't too speculative and don't presume anything supernatural beyond what I describe in this ...
Vakus Drake's user avatar
  • 2,528
2 votes
2 answers
139 views

Could You Use Artificial Volcanoes To Create Buildings?

For the purposes of this question the builders are incredibly wealthy, have access to cheap nukes to use for excavation, and everyone in this world is immune to radiation. The technology is decades ...
Vakus Drake's user avatar
  • 2,528
3 votes
3 answers
294 views

Feasibility of Tiny Nuclear Engines

In this setting nuclear material is incredibly cheap, while all hydrocarbons need to be synthesized from scratch. Additionally people have shadow magic which allows them to both easily shield against ...
Vakus Drake's user avatar
  • 2,528
9 votes
12 answers
4k views

Is there any reason a society might use electric boilers and steam engines in their trains rather than electric motors?

In an area in my world, people have discovered how to turn their aural constructs (magic stuff) into electrical supercapacitors, allowing for relatively advanced electrical technology. Now that they ...
M S's user avatar
  • 2,172
5 votes
4 answers
570 views

Stranded mining colony using its own resources to build an interplanetary spacecraft: how long to completion can I credibly make it? (More = better)

Setting In the not-too-far future, Mars hosts a few mining complexes that extract, refine and send materials back to our planetary system, as well as some scientific research bases. Commutes between ...
Kubler's user avatar
  • 465
5 votes
3 answers
267 views

What engineering complications would come from a species being giant?

In a project I'm currently working on, the primary species stands at roughly 19 feet tall on average. While there are advantages and disadvantages to such a size, this scaling would present a number ...
gumbo's user avatar
  • 219
2 votes
4 answers
206 views

How feasible is it for a construction company working 24/7 to superficially cover a (roughly) 2500x2500x500ft quarry and how long would it take?

A construction company has an immense workforce and wants to superficially cover a quarry and retain use of the interior for further and later development. The budget and workforce is immense, with ...
Sebastian's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
96 views

Can one get some partial ammo compatibility or tooling simplification by developing a few weapons of caliber ~80mm together?

For a few weapons there is something akin to sweet spot around caliber ~80mm: Carl Gustaf 8.4 cm recoilless rifle (rifled) 81 mm mortar (smoothbore) FIM-92 Stinger (72 mm) / 9K38 Igla (72 mm) (...
Shadow1024's user avatar
  • 10.1k
4 votes
6 answers
266 views

Bidirectional engineered rivers for long distance non-self-propelled boats

Building on my previous thread and taking into account suggestions Long distance travel by non-motorised rolling vehicles I wish to consider two-way rivers that flow in opposite directions at the same ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
1k views

Can I use the Peltier effect to cool down an underground city on Venus

In my fiction I have a city deep underground on the planet of Venus. I know this is deeply impractical, and there are far easier places to build an underground city, but that is not what I have done. ...
EversonThomas's user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
262 views

City planning underwater

In my world, there is a race of fish people and merfolk. For a brief description: They are a mix of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Luca. For pictures and extra description: What conditions ...
Crafter's user avatar
  • 2,595
3 votes
3 answers
160 views

Supersoldiers enabling man-powered vehicles

Just as an exercise in worldbuilding, imagine a world where genetic engineering (on subjects that already reached maturity, so no need to modify embryos and raise them to adulthood) creates ...
Paulo Raposo's user avatar
  • 1,221
2 votes
4 answers
579 views

How could a man-portable EMP shotgun generate a pulse?

The Story (this starts playing) The reactor core room is coated in black inky sludge, dotted with glowing blotches of cyan, with black tendrils laced up the hydraulic shocks and all around the reactor ...
Sam Kitsune's user avatar
  • 1,984
4 votes
8 answers
706 views

How could a resistance movement sabotage a hyperloop?

In my setting, a futuristic North America, the hyperloop is a newfangled mode of long-distance transportation. Basically it's a vacuum tube at low friction and air resistance, which allows pods to ...
Theresa Kay's user avatar
  • 2,147
4 votes
10 answers
2k views

Necessities for a handheld electron beam weapon

So, since practically every science fiction writer under the sun has imagined some manner of handheld laser beam, I have been exploring alternatives for energy/particle weapons, one of which is an ...
user98816's user avatar
  • 8,571
19 votes
5 answers
5k views

What fluids would be better than water for steam power?

I was wondering what it'd take for a fluid to be more efficient than water for steam engines. My current idea is a fictional fluid with three properties: 1) It boils at 80C, thus requiring less fuel/...
Salli's user avatar
  • 261
6 votes
5 answers
476 views

Possible mechanism for telescoping barrels

Is it a good idea? No. A very definitive no. However, that's not stopping a young aristocratic terrestrial cuttlefish (long story) that lives on this world's equivalent of a highly mountainous and ...
Seraphim's user avatar
  • 4,783
1 vote
2 answers
159 views

Would a stationary railgun be possible utilizing 1910s electrical technology?

I am building a world in which gunpowder was not invented (chemistry is less advanced compared to other sciences), but other kinds of projectile weapons still dominate the battlefield (compressed air ...
hsrocha's user avatar
  • 109

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