Questions tagged [reality-check]

Asks if a given concept is realistic in a given context. Answers should say yes or no, with supporting info. Compare this with the science-based and hard-science tags. This tag should never be the only tag on a question, because this tag frames how a question should be answered, not the topic.

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36 votes
10 answers
6k views

Could a technological society develop without agriculture?

Before the advent of agriculture, humans fed themselves by hunting and gathering. Hunter-gatherer societies tend to function quite differently from agricultural societies. Arguably, historically, ...
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20 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is metal-based, or other non-carbon-based, life realistic?

One science fiction short story I read (I don't remember the title or author, sorry!) featured some small creatures (unnamed) that were formed from metal, with the argument that "just like life ...
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16 votes
6 answers
3k views

Asteroid impact. How big does it have to be to globally affect plate tectonics?

I want to know about the plausibility and required parameters of the following scenario: Take an Earth-like planet, about the same size, composition and gravity. It has no plate tectonics to speak of....
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23 votes
16 answers
3k views

Scientifically Plausible Reincarnation?

Is it scientifically plausible for reincarnation to exist? When I think of reincarnation I am thinking of the following: Memories, personality, biases, opinions and feelings carry over from one life ...
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31 votes
6 answers
7k views

Can a planet have a figure-8 type of orbit around two separate stars?

Could a planet have an orbit in the shape of a figure 8 around twin (possibly binary) stars? Mostly curious about the physical possibility of such an orbital arrangement; is it stable over a long ...
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7 votes
4 answers
778 views

Scientific Accuracy - alien communication ideas

(Disclaimer: I tried this question earlier in the scifi site as well as real science sites, and was told should be on topic here) I'm writing a speculative story about aliens coming to earth - and ...
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36 votes
5 answers
6k views

Can a planet realistically have multiple suns?

Several science fiction books I have read (including, IINM, Nightfall by Asimov) have featured planets with several suns. Some worlds where this happened wrought interesting effects on the inhabitants ...
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23 votes
6 answers
3k views

Living Planet Possible?

Although a question about how large a living thing could be has been asked and answered, would a being such as Mogo from DC's Green Lantern series be possible? Mogo is the size of Earth roughly can ...
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4 votes
3 answers
840 views

Generating a magnetic field for planets with iron-cores that is revertable?

I'm looking for a solution to generate a strong enough magnetic field for planets with iron-cores - in my case, Mars - to keep the atmosphere from getting blow away by the solar winds (and ignoring ...
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  • 183
15 votes
4 answers
4k views

Would a zombie apocalypse be possible if zombies existed?

I want to do something set in the first weeks of a zombie apocalypse. I am using a viral, slow, infinite energy, 24 hours or so transformation time, zombie model. So I want to know, if a zombie were ...
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  • 1,427
13 votes
6 answers
2k views

What would be the communication range of an underwater species?

It's a commonly known fact that whale song travels huge distances. In fact apparently before the oceans were so noisy they could communicate over 10,000km! However, whales are very big! They can ...
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43 votes
5 answers
6k views

Could a humanesque creature derive all its nutrients from drinking blood?

Vampires are a very common creature in various fantasy stories, they drink blood and often human food poisons them. Forgetting for the time being the additional rumours/fiction such as sunlight, ...
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15 votes
6 answers
7k views

How to quarantine a major city?

We have an outbreak of a zombie-like disease in major metropolitan areas. The disease itself has a slow incubation period, and after a time it becomes clear that it is spreading faster than they can ...
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41 votes
10 answers
7k views

Could a technological society develop without wood?

Imagine a world things evolved slightly different: plants never evolved into trees. There are bushes, herbs, mosses, etc, but no trees. Thus no wood to make planks, nor for building. Given abundant ...
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27 votes
7 answers
7k views

Could life form in outer space?

All life we know of to date (presumably) formed on a rocky planet (more precisely: earth). Fiction has been written about life in more exotic locations. Though as far as I know, these lifeforms were ...
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32 votes
10 answers
11k views

How big could a living thing be?

Simply put is there an upper bound for the largest possible living creature in a scientifically rational world without incorporating anti-gravity, magic, the force, or other physical concepts we are ...
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44 votes
6 answers
6k views

How do I prevent my turtle from collapsing under its own gravity?

Suppose the universe contained a species of planet sized turtles1 that can travers at least interstellar space. How can I explain (without invoking magic) that these turtles are not spherical? If ...
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  • 5,535
8 votes
2 answers
497 views

What is my bedrock?

I'm looking for a rock from which my island is constructed. It needs to be: Either created from the sea or via intense pressure/heat Capable of trapping layers of gas beneath it White(ish) I was ...
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28 votes
5 answers
6k views

Humans born without legs: how would they thrive?

or, Anatomically Correct Weebles A group of behaviorally modern humans was cut off from the rest of the earth-like planet millennia ago. (Myths hold that the separation occurred four to five ka BP, ...
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6 votes
1 answer
284 views

Biology of humanlike species within Buddhist and Judeo-Christian Realms [closed]

I have a world that I largely have figured out in a big picture sort of way. It's sort of a Buddhist realms style "multiverse" with multiple realms encompassing the true universe. In this multiverse ...
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36 votes
13 answers
7k views

Can a river be put under enough pressure to jet straight up for a mile?

I've been mulling over an idea for my preferred RPG setting, and I wanted to check if anyone knows the following: Is it possible for a river to flow underground for miles, and then suddenly be put ...
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34 votes
5 answers
37k views

Is it possible to genetically modify a being after birth?

In many stories we hear about people whose genetic structure is modified after they're born (Spider-man, The Fantastic 4 and practically any other superhero you care to mention). However current ...
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14 votes
7 answers
2k views

What is the likelihood that inhabitants of an alien planet similar to Earth geologically would have races?

First off, let's get definitions out of the way: A "race" here is defined as stable, heritable, phenotypic, clearly visual distinction between large demographic groups living in different geographic ...
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  • 4,632
7 votes
7 answers
2k views

How could a force field dome be realized in my city?

In relation to this question, how could I create a force field dome over that city? Specifications of the city: 10 x 40 km on the surface 1 km in height has a city wall of 100 m all around the edge....
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  • 3,144
19 votes
3 answers
13k views

What is the likely method of surviving a Tsunami in a city?

After asking this question, What's the worst natural disaster that could hit New York City in our lifetime, it looks like the most popular answer was a Tsunami. A tsunami, however, from the sources of ...
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9 votes
3 answers
2k views

What light gas can I have in the upper atmosphere?

I want to have an upper atmosphere composed of a gas which is lighter than "air" so that my human occupants of a planet can harvest it and use it to fill blimps and hot air balloons. I'm planning on ...
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  • 18.1k
14 votes
4 answers
2k views

Can whiteout/snowstorm conditions be coupled with heavy fog?

In a story I am working on, I need a scene in which one of the main characters finds himself outside in precarious weather conditions, unable to see unaided much farther out than an armlength or so. ...
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  • 28.7k
59 votes
12 answers
17k views

Is a man-eating plant realistic?

Carnivorous plants live in nutrient-poor, highly lit habitats, such as bogs or rocks. For example Earth's biggest carnivorous plant, Nepenthes rajah, lives on mountain-tops with high concentration of ...
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12 votes
5 answers
3k views

Why would a complete urbanized city-planet exist?

Related: How would a completely urbanized city-planet support its population? How a completely urbanized city-planet be maintained? How would the global environment of a completely urbanized city-...
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  • 3,210
15 votes
3 answers
4k views

What would be the minimum distance between front line trenches in trench warfare?

How close could two trenches be in a stationary war that lasted about 4 months? Specification: Infrastructure should be established and there is artillery in use. The no man's land is mostly plain ...
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30 votes
7 answers
3k views

Feasibility of anti-matter as a fuel

Now, taking out the cost to produce/collect it, assume somehow we perfected a formula or find a natural source (because that is currently very prohibitive), how feasible would be to use antimatter as ...
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0 votes
0 answers
83 views

Scientific Accuracy - alien communication ideas [duplicate]

I'm writing a speculative story about aliens coming to earth, and just wanted to bounce a couple of ideas for scientific accuracy (or at least lack of obvious impossibility). This is set in the near ...
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  • 71
46 votes
15 answers
7k views

What are the primary triggers for the decline and fall of great empires?

Let's focus specifically on the devolution of empires. How is it that something so powerful falls? The collapse of Rome, Byzantium, the Han, the Mayans and so on. What similarities can be seen in ...
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22 votes
4 answers
2k views

City in a hollow tree

As a tree grows new layers are added each year so that the trunk expands in radius. The living part of the tree is a relatively thin layer on the outside just beneath the bark, and the wood further ...
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  • 6,033
29 votes
3 answers
64k views

Are ravens a genuinely realistic way of carrying messages?

In many fantasy worlds people send messages using ravens, they're often portrayed as being intelligent birds. To the best of my knowledge, on earth only homing pigeons have been used to carry ...
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75 votes
6 answers
4k views

Are geographically typed planets realistic?

In many science fictions we see planets which are designated by a particular terrain type. For example, Dagobah is a swamp planet, Tatooine is a desert planet, and Kamino is an ocean world. However, ...
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