Questions tagged [mathematics]

For questions about mathematics, including our own system of mathematics and alien versions of mathematics, focusing on their effects on societies and civilizations.

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-6
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3answers
105 views

What could an algorithm for fast prime factorization look like? [closed]

For hundreds of years mathematicians have been looking for a method to quickly factorize a natural number. For example: 3894757 = 877*4441 Today there's no way ...
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0answers
68 views

Can fundamental maths be different in another world? [duplicate]

Mathematics is the language of sciences. Can the fundamentals be different in another world/universe? A few things I'm pretty sure are fundamental don't change: $1 + 1 = 2$ $\pi = \frac{...
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10answers
13k views

Is there any math conjecture that would cause a lot of damage if disproven?

As a plot device I need some kind of conjecture that is used in lot proofs and widely assumed true. Something like many papers in computer science start with "Assuming P != NP ...". In my story for ...
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3answers
101 views

Could a stone age civilization independently figure out about quantum mechanics [closed]

I was thinking of a stone age civilization that figures out how to use Quantum Mechanics. This civilization figures out some of the equations that describe Quantum Mechanics, and comes up with first ...
45
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9answers
11k views

Famous conjecture or unsolved problem that could be plausibly proven/solved by freshman mathematician?

Is there any conjecture or famous unsolved problem, that doesn't require much prerequisite knowledge and could be plausibly proven / solved by freshman? My hero is average freshman in mathematics, ...
4
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1answer
98 views

Days and Seasons via Daily Eclipses in a Flat World

While working on the cosmos of a flat world, I came upon the idea of using a dim sum rotating about an axis through the central pole (as described here) in order to accomplish days and seasons. The ...
31
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18answers
11k views

Are there any mathematics that could only be learned by very few people?

I'm worldbuilding a situation where new drug increases IQ when given to preschool children. Unfortunately only 1% of the recipients get the benefits, the rest risk their development being stunted. As ...
19
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4answers
4k views

What kind of mathematical disciplines would be most useful for physics?

I'm worldbuilding a story, where a famous string theorist hires a student of mathematics to try construct a new theory. For better drama, my premise of the story is that the student never learned more ...
23
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18answers
3k views

Search for something difficult to count/estimate

In one of the stories I'm designing, in Middle Age time, the main character, Mr. P, is a good mathematician serving the King and other lords in different works (army numbers and suppliers counts, ...
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1answer
137 views

This is going to sound insane but… can we eliminate numbers+arithmetic from math? [closed]

This is going to sound insane but... would it not be nice, if there was no need for numbers (except for counting like in subscripts)? Mathematicians talk about eliminating the Axiom of Choice, because ...
5
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9answers
384 views

How can I create an infinite space bound by another infinite space (or contained within it)?

First let me preface by saying this question will be very math heavy, and might be as equally suited to math stack exchange as world building. For that I apologize, but since the reason for my ...
0
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1answer
81 views

Could a city of balloons provide its own static electricity? [closed]

In the question: Could a city be built out of Balloons? it asks whether such a city could exist. I would like to know how much electricity (static electricity) could be gathered from the balloons ...
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5answers
435 views

Velocity Difference From Teleportation

In Steven Gould's Jumper series, the main character has the ability to teleport, and he eventually realizes he automatically does frame matching when doing so - no matter where on earth his origin and ...
3
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7answers
294 views

How could someone calculate all potential outcomes of an action?

In my universe, some individuals possess the capacity to assess all outcomes for an action. As you can imagine, this is very useful. The only way I can think of a plausible way to make that happen is ...
8
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1answer
350 views

Mathematics of monsters

Researching for a science fiction novel. My character loves math + I have dyscalculia = Problem. Therefore, I need your help. In my story, there are aliens we can see, but we can't hear or touch. ...
1
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2answers
150 views

Could university accept a child without any formal education? [closed]

My story revolves about a life of a girl that is profoundly gifted even among a family of profoundly gifted. Her father founded a multi-billion dollar company focused on IT security and cryptography ...
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11answers
324 views

The Emperor bans the number seven on pain of death. Does this inevitably disrupt a medieval society? (trade and commerce) [closed]

The medieval Emperor is up to his tricks again. He has decided that the number seven is unlucky. Despite advice from his courtiers that it can't be done, he bans its use on penalty of death by any of ...
2
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2answers
148 views

What would be the mathematical formula to figure out a person's weight on a world bigger or smaller than Earth?

Okay, trying to figure out this math guys! This may be simple math to some of you, but not me!!! I googled various ways of asking this question and got some good results, but I'm looking for a simple ...
1
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1answer
109 views

How large is my airship and how can it fly? [closed]

Writing epic fantasy, there is no modern technology and no magic that could propel my airship. It is supposed to hold a large pub/brothel in it, with a few rooms. How large would you say this airship ...
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1answer
125 views

Fully understanding a universe from within that universe. Gödel's second theorem [closed]

Gödel's second theorem asserts that the consistency of a formal theory containing arithmetic cannot be proved by the tools of the relevant theory itself (provided that the theory is in fact consistent)...
2
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3answers
380 views

Population Growth of an Extraterrestrial Colony

Okay, i need help here. I'm sure this question has been asked before and if it has, please refer me to it. But a story I have been working on for a while now revolves around the adventures of a colony ...
17
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24answers
2k views

A game to outplay Death? [closed]

Sometimes, when someone dies with things left undone, Death will be willing to play a game for the opportunity to come back to life. However, there are several reasons why you'd expect not to be able ...
5
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3answers
201 views

historical examples of alternative typeset representations

In a scenario where scientists decipher a Math book of an alien culture, the last thing to expect is equations presented the way we know them.The way we write mathematical equations, is mostly taken ...
7
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4answers
3k views

How much would a 3" human male weigh?

In my world, which has an Earth-like gravity and environment, an adult, fit humanoid male is 3 inches tall. When I do a simple ratio calculation, I come up with him weighing 7.9 pounds. Basically, the ...
1
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0answers
238 views

How many aircraft could this submarine aircraft carrier carry on its flight deck? [closed]

I have a humongous submarine aircraft carrier (dubbed a Kharybdis-class submarine) shaped like a triangular arrowhead. This submarine can launch a wide variety of aircraft from its flight deck such as ...
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15answers
5k views

How might a Professor of Mathematics Change History?

A professor of mathematics is sent back in time to a post-Neolithic farming village. They accept him as their wise man, and he spends 30 years teaching them all he knows about mathematics until he ...
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6answers
502 views

If aliens exist, do you think that they ever discovered/created their own Math?

Let's say that the aliens exist, do you think that they are smart enough to create their own Mathematics? Or even their own Sciences?
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3answers
6k views

How advanced can a civilization get without zero?

More or less exactly what it says on the tin. Start with a group of cavemen on prehistoric earth, discovering fire, language, wheels, etc, and walk them along the path to civilization, but with one ...
4
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3answers
349 views

Could geniuses of the past catch up in a few months?

A historical college is facing closure, due their failing job placement, inflated grades and rumors that its nothing but a diploma mill. The last chance for the new president to persuade to the ...
1
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4answers
262 views

Could public-key cryptography, such as RSA, be useful and secure in the late Middle Ages in the absence of computers?

Cryptography has long history. Really long one. Of course, there is no need to say, how important was safety of secret messages between rulers and generals. In olden times, ciphers used were pretty ...
4
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4answers
340 views

Computers in a society whose mathematics is limited to geomety

Consider a society whose mathematics never developed numbers. Instead, the entirety of their mathematics is highly developed geometry (the kind of work done in the first few books of Euclid's Elements)...
7
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3answers
189 views

Effects of a supermassive ship colliding with a planet

The basis of my story revolves around a single survivor escaping a massive colony ship gone critical above the skies of an alien world. After his escape via escape pod, the ship crashes halfway across ...
2
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1answer
177 views

Upscaling Insects and the effect resulting upon their biology

Assuming the information in this video by the Cambridge University is correct, Planthoppers can jump as far as a meter. Their size ranges from 1cm in cooler climates to 5cm in the tropics. With ...
0
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1answer
136 views

How realistic are these levels of cryptographic advances within the setting described? [closed]

Recently, I've been musing about cryptographic applications of theoretical future technologies for (breaking) secure interstellar communications. The setting is a video game (Stellaris) featuring ...
4
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8answers
416 views

Could a mathematical constant actually change? [closed]

(Note: I have a degree in mathematics, but this question goes a bit beyond that.) Take a value like pi ($\pi$). Only a mere handful of decimals is all we could empirically verify to be "true" (...
6
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4answers
217 views

How to facilitate inter-species communication with math?

Mathematics is considered to be the language of the universe since it is the most fundamental type of logic (in physics anyway) and therefore the best way of expressing the universe (which is a ...
2
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2answers
232 views

How would a culture with a continuous language behave? [closed]

Suppose that there is a race of humanoid beings whose mouth parts are able to make a wide, continuous range of sounds (as opposed to humans who I'm considering to have a medium-sized discrete range of ...
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4answers
148 views

Little-endian number display system [closed]

What would be the effects on a human civilization if its convention of number display is little-endian, i.e. its people represent one hundred and twenty-three as 321...
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5answers
4k views

How fast could earth orbit the sun without its orbit changing?

It takes the Earth about 365.25 days to orbit the Sun on its current elliptical path. That means it moves about 30 km/s, 2×π×(149,600,000 km)/(1 year). So, given that, how high could Earth's ...
3
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5answers
413 views

Terraform Mars or Dyson Ring?

Background: The main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the closest and richest source of non terrestrial resources to Earth in the solar system. Even though it is vast its resources are ...
2
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5answers
250 views

Is my celestial coordinate system efficient?

I want to know whether or not my starship's cordinate system is efficient or not. Soon after my race flew into the stars, we realised we needed to be able to tell where we were. We need coordinate ...
5
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3answers
126 views

Calculating the Resistance of Water, for Purposes of Violence

I'm writing a story about mermaids. For this reason, I'm wondering how much you can hurt someone by say, throwing a punch, hitting them with a rock, or even throwing a spear or rock. I'm not sure how ...
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1answer
160 views

Square-Cube and Kinetic Energy equations for relative numbers (mostly specific to personal project) [closed]

This is a somewhat long and arduous question, (and is likely to help me in particular far more than it will help anyone else, since it's quite specific to my own project) but I hope you'll bear with ...
7
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4answers
2k views

Problem for advanced mathematics?

I have a world where remnants of advanced ancient humans (tv tropes link) live among us, but we are not aware of them. Is there some problem that people with mathematics more advanced then ours would ...
0
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2answers
413 views

What if there was no such thing as 'left' and 'right'? [closed]

Last night I rediscovered that, while lying in bed, I can always tell which side I'm facing towards. This is because, even if the room is dark and my eyes are closes, I have an innate ability to tell ...
17
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6answers
3k views

How would a torus world (donut shaped) have to rotate in order to have a stable day / night cycle in all of its regions?

In this universe, mass and gravity work differently so stable torus planets are possible (donut shaped). How would a torus world orbiting a single star have to rotate in order to have a stable day ...
6
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2answers
466 views

At what scale would negative curvature be noticeable (and a nuisance to the flat space society)?

After playing some HyperRogue, I got interested in the use of hyperbolic geometry in WorldBuilding, in particular how an area grows exponentially with respect to its radius. Let's say that the ...
15
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3answers
2k views

Gregorian Calendar and dates before its implementation - how to correctly place an event before 1582? [closed]

For dialogues occurring in the story the characters would use their respective culture/civilization calendar, but for the one writing the story a way to use a familiar calendar to place an event is ...
2
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1answer
177 views

Is there an effective difference between distances in 3d space and higher dimensional space

Note before I begin: I am aware that this might be a Math-heavy question that might be better suited for the math.se Goal: I'd like to use n-dimensional geometry as a method for effectively ...
-7
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1answer
217 views

What is a coefficient? [closed]

I am having hard trouble learning about coefficients and constants. Please give me a specific example or answer. I think that a coefficient is a number after a variable. Also I believe that Constants ...