Questions tagged [power-sources]

For question about anything that can be used as a power source for a planet or civilization.

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50
votes
10answers
52k views

Will unattended nuclear power plants actually cause damage to their surroundings?

Scenario: Deadly virus wiped out 80 - 90% world population and it did it pretty quickly (in 2 months) Although it is plausible that among these 10 - 20% of survivors will be people who actually know ...
44
votes
23answers
9k views

What were the machines really doing with humans in the Matrix? [closed]

This isn't a film trivia question - I know the canonical answer is 'use them for power'. But it's a plot point that always bothered me, because Thermodynamics Says No. Humans aren't an energy source, ...
36
votes
18answers
7k views

How would one make a reactor harder to produce over time?

I have been asking myself this question recently. How would you make a reactor powering a powerful weapon harder to produce for each successive reactor being produced? My solutions currently would ...
30
votes
17answers
7k views

How could indestructible materials be used in power generation?

Background: In this scenario assume technology is initially equal to our own, but a method is discovered to render material indestructible. The affected material is treated as requiring infinite or ...
28
votes
12answers
2k views

How can spacecraft manufactured on the moon be powered?

Background: The moon has been selected as the base for human space exploration. Rather than ship tonnes of material out of earth's gravity well, interplanetary spacecraft and space stations will be ...
26
votes
5answers
5k views

Practicality of a thorium-powered, superheated-steam car?

At the beginning of the 1900s, the Doble Steam Motors Company built steam cars. Their engineers solved many of the problems steam cars had until then by using superheated steam and a condenser to ...
22
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14answers
4k views

Rain powered transport

Rain-powered transport The plain of Soggi experiences a constant rainfall. Can a rain powered vehicle be built according to the following conditions? The plain of Soggi experiences a constant ...
21
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13answers
11k views

1 Light Year Diameter Planet

Suppose a species has limitless resources and the ability to construct megastructures of an astronomical scale. Would it be possible, given antigravitational technology (hypothetical), to create a ...
16
votes
10answers
3k views

Imagining a Solar-Powered Economy

For a writing challenge, I'm trying to create a near-future world (2030 or so) where the major Western nations have transitioned to a fully solar economy. Hence the rub. The realist in me is aware of ...
15
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5answers
15k views

How long can a power plant continue to generate electricity without maintenance by people?

The situation is as follows: there is a city with different districts, each provided with electric power from a different power plant: Thermal power plant nuclear power plant Hydroelectric power ...
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
10answers
7k views

What are the power options for intelligent humanoid robots?

In my future setting on Earth (or an Earth-like planet; haven't decided), the fields of robotics and AI have taken off and we have intelligent, ambulatory robots. (They were initially thought of as ...
14
votes
3answers
488 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
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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
3answers
2k views

How do you power a cyborg?

In this answer about how to design the ideal cyborg, I said: ... Use electric tissue to power the machines. Cyborgs need some way to generate electricity when mechanical parts are involved. ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

Fusion: Using a lens to focus the energy of a star

Is it possible to focus the energy of one star to a small enough point and high enough energy to provide the energy to start a fusion reactor? I'm imagining a large lens placed between the star and ...
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
12answers
3k views

What power generation method is the best to sustain a hovering city?

The Technology We're in the year 2250 on an Earth-like planet. All the space on the earth's surface has been used up by the population of 15 billion, so we're moving into the air. Cities, along with ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

The go-to power source for transportation in a post apocalyptic world

In post apocalyptic worlds gas, is often portrayed as the main power source, and without it, it is impossible to travel anywhere. Two examples are Mad Maz and Waterworld. However, gasoline is limited,...
7
votes
14answers
4k views

How imagination would work as a magic source?

I'm considering a world where a specific civilization can use imagination as power to invoke spells, create objects and creatures. The range of abilities depends on the user. Some individuals sweat ...
7
votes
5answers
175 views

Adapting to a sonic world

A planet much like Earth orbits a star much like the Sun, but with one difference: the energy from the star is magically transformed into sound within the planet's atmosphere. There is no longer ...
7
votes
4answers
877 views

Is it possible for a civilization to advance beyond 17th century tech without electricity or steam power?

In my world , a race of sea faring half elves now possesses 18th century maritime technology , and 16th century ..... Everything else. Given that they spend most of their time at sea , they lack - A) ...
7
votes
5answers
237 views

Capital ship reactor power

I'm trying to not delve too into the sciences so as to keep things fairly suitable for a space opera setting, but I'm trying to figure a few things to a reasonable degree of detail. My question here ...
6
votes
4answers
312 views

How to power thin contact lenses that let us browse the internet?

Immediate to near future, we are talking about single digit nanometer size transistor and light emitting diode. That's actually very small, you can't see it with a conventional microscope let alone ...
5
votes
3answers
336 views

How do I power Goldeneye?

I've been spending some time thinking about putting a satellite weapon into space. It would look something like this. Don't worry about those letters, they stand for something else. This weapon can ...
5
votes
7answers
823 views

How do I make floating ambient light?

I would like to have a small orb, producing light of proportions of a standard household bulb today. No big deal, right. They have these already for sale on Amazon as night lights. I would, however, ...
5
votes
7answers
248 views

Is broadcast power suitable for recharging robots?

The last time I checked ASIMO's battery pack only had enough juice for something like 30 minutes of continuous operation & then it has to plug in & recharge which isn't really that useful. I'...
5
votes
3answers
161 views

Underground Solar Interaction

In my WIP (webcomic in progress) mentioned in my other posts, there is an earth-originated colony based on an alien planet in a semi-post-apocalyptic society with limited technology and resources. ...
5
votes
2answers
616 views

How realistic is the power generation depicted in The Legend of Korra?

Early on in the cartoon The Legend of Korra, we're shown one of the main characters working at his job. He works in a power plant, where he and his coworkers spend all day using Bending (essentially ...
5
votes
2answers
542 views

Powerfish - how to use fish movements to power tech

Powerfish - on! I'm thinking about writing about a world where fish are used like lab rats, to power technologies. But I'm thinking about worldwide use. I placed my TV on my fish tank yesterday. The ...
5
votes
4answers
256 views

How could a mammalian body provide substantial electrical power through non-harmful, “passive” means?

I've seen some articles about biologically powering devices through a glucose fuel cell, but from what I can tell this would only provide power on the order of a few tenths of a watt. While it's ...
5
votes
2answers
358 views

Beyond Electricity

Our modern systems are predicated on the existence of electricity, which is a phenomenal discovery that helped propel the human race into our current civilization. However, electricity can be highly ...
4
votes
9answers
766 views

How can power levels matter in a magic system that emphasizes control?

Magic works through transmutation circles infused with sigils that both manifest from a person's mind. The individual focuses their Anima, or life force, through these circles in order to create ...
4
votes
7answers
1k views

Fission vs. fusion as a heavily-restricted sci-fi power source

In a sci-fi setting I'm working on, the power dynamics between two civilizations are maintained by one civilization ("captives") being completely dependent on the other civilization ("captors") for ...
4
votes
5answers
358 views

Electrical grid based on devices in series using constant currents, not devices in parallel using constant voltages

Mains power electrical systems on Earth supply a fixed standardized voltage to a number of devices, which are all wired in parallel with each other. However, on the planet I'm writng about, they do ...
4
votes
4answers
614 views

How would a large Space battleship be powered?

Ideas for a power source of the future This is quite a general question, so I suppose I should add some context; The ships that I have envisioned are pretty big. The flagship is about 1km long. They ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Harnessing energy from the moon like from the sun

So we harness energy from the sun using beams, right? Well what if we were to harness energy coming off the moon the same way? For those long winter months when the sun is rare we could use this to ...
4
votes
1answer
154 views

Metallic hydrogen powered vehicles

Let’s say metallic hydrogen becomes an economically viable resource that we are able to either make ourselves or mine from a gas giant, how would we use it as a power source for vehicles both ...
4
votes
4answers
195 views

Could charged plasma be used as a working fluid to spin a magnetic turbine to generate electricity?

As the title suggests, this is a conceptual physics kinda question. What is the feasibility of using an electrically charged (as in not neutral) plasma as the working fluid in a turbine where the ...
4
votes
5answers
352 views

Using lasers to transmit solar energy

As we know, solar power is the ultimate source of energy for mankind, and it's the most abundant(I have read that we receive more than 1000 times the energy we currently use, if we were to have a way ...
4
votes
3answers
176 views

Unpredictable reactors which like to explode by default

In my world, alien 'reactors' are discovered that are very efficient at creating power (around 1000x better than fission), as well as requiring little fuel, making them the perfect power source. ...
4
votes
1answer
770 views

How long would the electricity grid stay up if everyone suddenly died [duplicate]

Given: your classic zombie apocalypse (99.9% die in the first 24 hours, and survivors stop going to work) a developed country (say USA) coal power stations how long after people stopped doing stuff ...
4
votes
1answer
166 views

Wirelessly charging the world

In my world (consider it an Earth analog for simplicity), power stations on the ground ionize columns of atmosphere using high-energy, electromagnetic beams. The plasma columns stretch all the way up ...
3
votes
6answers
298 views

how can non-magical soldiers gain power from a magic ritual without making its participants weaker?

This particular coven operates as a powerful and wide spanning enterprise focused on accumulating power to direct the world in ways that align with their interests. Witches gain more power through a ...
3
votes
4answers
306 views

Regenerating Fuel Cell

I'm working on a powered exoskeleton design for my universe and I had an idea about how to power it. It works in this cycle: Water enters an electrolyzer powered by a massive betavoltaic battery ...
3
votes
3answers
340 views

What can power up an eco friendly Dino theme park?

My company has just taken over the North Sentinel Island to setup a Dino attraction, construction phase is in progress and we also managed to convince the local to move and settle somewhere else (by ...
3
votes
3answers
108 views

How could a fusion device be held at the centre of a ring-shaped space habitat?

I'm trying to create something like a generation ship, but it has no destination, and is travelling endlessly, so is more like a deep space non-orbital habitat for humans. One helpful and appealing ...
3
votes
3answers
139 views

How can a soul sucker avoid the negative traits of its victims?

People are souls that inhabit and animate human bodies. The lifeforce of an individual is what powers the soul and allows it to excercise control over the body. Physical and mental attributes, such as ...
3
votes
3answers
176 views

Wireless power generation in a fleet of spaceships

Okay, so while I'm fairly certain this is possible to do, I wanna know if it actually makes sense to do so. Imagine you have a fleet of ships, each of them so large it takes megatons of antimatter to ...
3
votes
2answers
923 views

Fusion Power and Plasma Propulsion

In the classic idea of a Tokamak Fusion Reactor, plasma races around an electromagnetic track. Is it plausible to "spin" off some of this rapidly moving plasma and direct it to nozzles for use in ...