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Questions tagged [materials]

Intended to refer to the properties of both hypothetical and real materials and their applications and properties.

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10answers
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How do Glass Ants create their tunnels?

***** Xenobiology expedition 'Profundity': Log entry 504 ***** Glass Ants are a fascinating species. We discovered them on an arid desert world last visited by humanity aeons ago. They seem to have ...
70
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14answers
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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 ...
61
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25answers
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Would a full body diamond armor and sword guarantee survival and victory against a medieval battalion?

As usual I write stuff like any professional fictional writers do, my protagonist worships a deity calling herself "The Expensive One" and she bestowed a flawless full body diamond armor which comes ...
53
votes
8answers
6k views

Building a bridge to the stars

Could I, purely in quantity of material only, build a solid bridge to a star? Ignore anything like strength, relative motions of systems, that is all taken care of, using lalalaicanthearyouium - this ...
48
votes
17answers
14k views

Build an impregnable fortress in the middle ages with modern technology

Let's say we want to build the strongest possible fortress¹ in a medieval (1300 CE) setting while having access to any modern technology and material. Said technology can only be used during the ...
43
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18answers
10k views

City made of glass in a desert?

My world has a city of glass found along the outskirts of a desert. I decided on this because sand can become glass and so it was a huge resource that could be used for building. However, the concern ...
39
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16answers
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Given an “indestructible” material used for armor - what are ways to explain that material not being used as a weapon as well?

Usually this "indestructible" material is unnaturally strong for its weight; the armor "just exists" and doesn't go into the feasibility of such a material. Given that the material isn't "hard to ...
39
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8answers
9k views

Would armour made of spider silk work?

Would it be possible to use spider silk for armour, instead of metal? I am not worried about how to obtain the silk. I know that spiders are not domesticable and that they are too aggressive to each ...
37
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20answers
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What would be best way to re-melt Mars' mantle and core to revive its magnetosphere

Missing magnetosphere on Mars keeps popping up. Most likely caused by Mars core being cold, mantle not bubbly enough. Mars mantle is dormant, core does not move. What would be good way to get it ...
36
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16answers
9k views

How to sabotage a blacksmith production? [closed]

The city's main weapon and armor supplier has lost his contract arming the city's guard because the quality of the last batch of its products is awful. The swords break at the first clash, the armor ...
35
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12answers
7k views

Weaponry made from extreme light-weight steel: swords and daggers

Imagine there was a material that was mostly identical to steel in almost every way, but instead of a density of $7.85–7.87 g/cm^3$ it would be a tenth of that. That is about 4 times lighter than ...
31
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4answers
9k views

Is diamond armor better than traditional armor?

A medieval alchemist (from Europe) has figured out how to crystallize any object and turn it into diamond. Would diamond armor (e.g. chain mail and plate armor) and weapons be superior to their ...
30
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15answers
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Are there any structural materials suitable for production underwater?

One of the points made in a number of recent questions regarding underwater races has prompted me to review one of my older pieces of world-building. Namely: the difficulty of producing common ...
29
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12answers
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What is the hardest wood possible, and where would this be a practical material?

With a Janka Hardness of 5,060 lbf, the Australian Buloke is considered to be the hardest wood on Earth. Compared to other materials however, it still yields a weaker Compressive Strength and Modulus ...
28
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24answers
14k views

How to make female breast armor viable?

It is known that armor with accentuated design for breast is a bad choice in an actual confrontation. What can be changed to make "breast armor" more effective? Like materials(fictional or not), ...
28
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5answers
6k views

What do you make bricks out of in the rainforest?

Problem statement There exists a thriving Bronze Age civilization in a gigantic rainforest, bigger than the Amazon and Congo put together. This civilization is built in on the flood plains of a might ...
27
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3answers
2k views

How high can Ludicrous Leg man jump?

Ludicrous Leg Man has never skipped a leg day, as a result of which he has infinitely strong and fast legs and all attendant secondary superpowers. Don't ask why, just roll with it. While performing ...
24
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8answers
5k views

Fabric in a waterless world

Water does not exist. The two main liquids are lava, and some kind of "life essence" (let's call it mana). One random day, a rock solidified with the ability to produce mana through photosynthesis, ...
24
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7answers
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How durable would a person need to be to survive impact at terminal velocity?

For a fantasy race, or for bio-augmented humans, how durable would they have to be to walk away from a 1000ft free fall unscathed? And how would this logically translate to other forms of durability? ...
24
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13answers
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What kinds of remnants might be evidence of a previous civilisation?

The trope of an ancient advanced civilisation that disappeared is as old as the hills, but it does raise an interesting question: what kinds of evidence would suggest that somebody else was here first?...
24
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7answers
3k 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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14answers
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What wearable material do I need to survive a pyroclastic flow?

This question is inspired by Green's Volcanoes in Orbit! The premise is that there is a 50-mile-high shield volcano (again, let's ignore the height implausibility) with a slope of about 2-3 degrees, ...
23
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6answers
4k views

Super metal and the construction of knight armor

Assume that roughly at 1200 AD, Europe discovers a new metal (or alloy). By terms of various strengths and hardness it's comparable to high grade steel, however instead of steel's density of ~8 g/cm³, ...
22
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11answers
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How would aluminium work as medieval armor?

I know aluminium was extremely hard to refine until the 20th century, which is one of the reasons why it wasn't used much. But what are the drawbacks to using it as armor or weapons in this type of ...
22
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9answers
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Indestructible silk: good armor?

I've been playing with different conceptualizations and types of armor for historical settings, especially armor with magic enchantments or made from weird materials. I was stuck thinking about ...
20
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8answers
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Kidnapping Fire-Slugs

I have a slug that I need to kidnap. Not an ordinary garden slug; this slug is special. This slug's slime is violently reactive with the atmosphere on my planet, and explodes into flame on contact ...
18
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6answers
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What would be the effect of magic ultraviolet rocks on developing societies?

One of my favorite bits of set dressing is magic glowing rocks. You see them in movies, video games, and every other manner of medium conveying fantasy settings. Personally, I'm perfectly okay with ...
18
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8answers
3k views

Identifying extra-galactic artifacts

Setting In the near future a group of explorers land on Mars and proceed to explore the cave system under Pavonis Mons. While exploring the gigantic interior of the lava tube, sensors indicate the ...
17
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12answers
5k views

What kind of materials can survive for millennia?

Imagine an alien race. They are the creators of Unspecified Advanced Alien Technology™. One day they lose one of their ships. The crew had to evacuate, and the ship kind of crashed on a random planet. ...
17
votes
8answers
3k views

A Non-Iron Elvish Steel

One of the most overlooked elements of modern fantasy is that cold iron serves as either an effective shield or an effective weapon against supernatural creatures, like fairies or spirits. With that ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

Feasibility of organisms with translucent upper craniums

After reading this post about a sort of translucent biological visor I was inspired to incorporate a similar design. I'd like to create an organism with a translucent upper cranium, serving no purpose ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Lifespan of abandoned buildings

I'm exploring a post-apocalyptic world and want to build a realistic scenario for the condition of abandoned ruins. What would you estimate to be the lifespan of the following building types? And by ...
15
votes
9answers
6k views

Would it be possible to make a water mill without metal?

I'm making a human society that has a lack of metal ore and no knowledge of metalworking at all. However, industry must still continue, metal or not, so I'm thinking about a water mill made out of ...
14
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7answers
2k views

Alternative skeleton material for an Earth-like planet

On earth, the skeletons of Osteicthyes and all their descendants are made of a mixture of collagen and calcium. We can do this because Earth contains food sources for all these animals containing ...
13
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2answers
516 views

A ribcage capable of surviving the bite of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

What existing material (e.g. 410 steel, no unobtanium) and what thickness should the ribcage of a creature (of humanoid size and shape, let's say it's a genetically-engineered human) have, to survive ...
13
votes
5answers
667 views

Can porcelain be “reforged”?

With metals you can take something you don't like, melt it down and use the metal for something else. My question is, can the same be done with porcelain? In my fantasy world, metals like gold, ...
12
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4answers
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Would it make any difference If I use diamonds as arrowheads?

Let's say I have a plenty of supply of diamonds for my archer's arrows and my blacksmiths can easily work with diamonds. Would diamond arrows be superior to iron arrows?
12
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2answers
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Could a pearl make a good bullet?

If I were to use a pearl instead of a bullet in an old fashioned flint-lock pistol or a musket, could it survive? What would it do on impact? Would it be too light for an effective ammunition? ...
12
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3answers
2k views

Weather and temperature effects on leather armor

What exactly happens to leather armor in different environmental conditions, for example battles or long exposure to rain or desert heat? What can be done to negate or care for it?
11
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6answers
2k views

What is the largest / longest practical bronze age sword possible?

Assuming bronze age technology and the use of bronze for the blade, what is the longest blade / total length of sword that is possible and practical to use? Bronze age Naue II swords were typically ...
11
votes
4answers
284 views

Wading through high-inertia particulates: how could pre-modern technology best approximate a protective, slick, waterproof suit?

In the supernatural plane of existence known as The Exhibition, time appears frozen - nothing is moving, falling objects are suspended motionless, the works. In addition to this, while outside ...
11
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1answer
88 views

Degradable ammunition for electro magnetic guns

Would it be possible to make ammunition for railguns and gauss rifles that would degrade over time either through a natural process or by the means of star radiation, so the missed shots don't ...
11
votes
1answer
271 views

Best material for windsilk

I'm developing a silkworm that spins webs of a particular kind of "silk" and weaves thin, fragile webs. The magic part of this is that it also spins wind. The following addresses how this works and my ...
10
votes
10answers
3k views

Paper from human skin

I'm writing a story about a people that lives in a very cold, icy environment. Their technological level of advancement ranges from stone age to dark ages in different areas. I'd like them to record ...
10
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7answers
2k views

What metals will a culture most likely use if use of iron is prohibited?

What metals will a culture most likely use if use of iron is prohibited but it has advanced technology?
10
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4answers
2k views

Could we use both speed and heat to penetrate Europa's ice?

Could we fire a heavy, long (e.g., 50 meters), spear-shaped object into Europa's icy-surface from space and then, when momentum stops, gravity gradually moves weights down inside copper tubes the ...
10
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5answers
2k views

How would a century of disuse affect this structure?

In my story, an ancient building has been abandoned for a whole century without any care or use from the inhabitants around. They refrain from approaching it because they believe it is cursed, which ...
10
votes
4answers
387 views

Is it possible to make pulleys and cams required for compound crossbows with medieval or early renaissance technology? [duplicate]

I am thinking if it's possible for craftsmen of late medieval times to achieve precision required to repeatedly make crossbows enhanced by use of cams or pulleys. As far as I know, pulleys were used ...
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4answers
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Ancient Roman Pneumatic tube Postal Service

The Romans had pumps, aqueducts, water wheels (which were used to grind flour, saw wood & stone etc), valves & pipes (they are known to have used stone, clay, lead & copper for pipes). ...
9
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6answers
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Harpoons… in space! [duplicate]

So I have a bunch of space pirates who make a living out of stealing spaceships while they are in transit and repurposing then for their own use later. As such, they can’t destroy the ship because, ...