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Questions tagged [science-based]

For questions that require answers based on hard science, not magic or pseudo-science, but do not require scientific citations. Contrast with the hard-science and reality-check tags. Do not use this tag as the only tag on a question.

11
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4answers
3k views

If Yellowstone experienced another level 8 eruption on the VEI scale, what are the largest geographical implications?

I'm building a post-apocalyptic setting where the cataclysmic event is a volcanic eruption from Yellowstone that releases a blanket of ash that reaches from California to just before the Midwest. ...
10
votes
4answers
745 views

How would basketball change to accommodate zero-g

I was just wondering what kind of rule changes court layout etc would happen to have a 'basketball' game in a zero-g arena? I'm assuming the most likely thing to stay is a ball and 2 opposing baskets....
6
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
3k views

What's the worst natural disaster that could hit New York City in our lifetime?

I'm writing a post-apocalypse story that takes place in New York, mainly the city as the survivors escape the island to the outer boroughs. Anyway, living in New York all of my life, the worse that I'...
14
votes
4answers
1k 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. ...
14
votes
9answers
4k views

Automobiles after the apocalypse

So last year I started writing a post-apocalyptic story, and then realized I had no idea what the world was really like, and quite a few things just didn't seem to make sense. One of the biggest that ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

Optimum laser color for maximum destruction [closed]

In every science fiction story, the author seems to use a different color of laser for his ships, usually to distinguish sides in a fight. X-Wings are red. Tie fighters green. The Enterprise has ...
7
votes
5answers
530 views

Tactical influences of an entirely electricity-based arsenal on starships?

Assuming a world where starships don't use missiles and bullets in combat much. They only carry those as a final strike or for convenience. Their arsenal is almost entirely composed of electricity-...
23
votes
5answers
7k views

Is it possible to advertise on the moon?

I remember a cartoon about some spy guy. In that cartoon they did mass media by projecting from the surface of the earth to the moon in the night sky. Would that technique be possible? Could an ...
54
votes
11answers
15k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the maximum size of a flying creature?

Giant winged beasts such as the Roc and the western dragon feature strongly in mythology. Is there a maximum size on a biological winged flying creature? How would an atmosphere different from Earth'...
10
votes
5answers
888 views

How would a completely urbanized city-planet be maintained?

Based off of this deleted question: Why and how would a completely urbanized city-planet exist? Related: How would a completely urbanized city-planet support its population? How would the global ...
9
votes
5answers
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-...
8
votes
3answers
743 views

How would the global environment of a completely urbanized city-planet be affected?

Related: How would a completely urbanized city-planet support its population? How a completely urbanized city-planet be maintained? Why would a completely urbanized city-planet exist? The properties ...
8
votes
5answers
837 views

How would a completely urbanized city-planet support its population?

Related: How would a completely urbanized city-planet be maintained? How would the global environment of a completely urbanized city-planet be affected? Why would a completely urbanized city-planet ...
33
votes
8answers
4k views

What environment would make leaves light blue?

What environmental effects (if any) would ever cause blue to be a colour that a plant would choose as an evolutionary advantage? Bonus: I'm looking for light blue plants as a preference. EDIT: ...
11
votes
4answers
804 views

How could you dig a hole through the fluid mantle of a planet?

The Question of the Tunnel through a Planet grinds my mind. How could you dig a Hole through the fluid mantle of a planet? Would your walls not constantly break and collapse on you after the 15-20 ...
39
votes
20answers
8k views

Can I Have A Destroyed Civilization with No Ruins?

I'm working on the timeline for my world, but I keep getting stuck at the origins. I want to have had an advanced civilization (modern levels, maybe a bit beyond) that was destroyed in a vaguely ...
25
votes
12answers
5k views

Is there any way to truly hide a spaceship?

Space is two things: empty and (mostly) dark. This makes it really, really hard to hide in it, because to do anything in it, chances are, you'll be shining a big bright light through it. Even if you'...
14
votes
6answers
3k views

Could a computer take over an entire planet?

The inspiration for my question comes from The Great C by Philip K Dick. To summarize, the Great C is a computer that has taken over a large portion of the planet. It uses proxy agents to keep ...
47
votes
14answers
11k views

Explaining where energy comes from to power magic

I'm trying to create a realistic magic system, this may be a lost cause. Imagine in our story we have a wizard who wants to cast a spell to start a fire. In some magic systems there are magic words, ...
8
votes
2answers
978 views

Life on an Earth-like planet with solid core?

How big a difference does the Earth's liquid outer core and mantle make for the evolution of complex life? If all of Earth's parameters would be the same, but it had a solid interior just like Mars, ...
12
votes
10answers
2k views

Would there be any reason to bore a tunnel entirely through a world?

I am looking to have a Tunnel drilled through a world and deal with the physics of What happens in the centre of a planet, what happens with the heat at the core and whether it is faster to travel ...
24
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
2k views

How would the design of a habitable underground fortification differ to that of a castle?

As a follow up from riding flying creatures to attack castles, let's assume that the practice is now so prevalent that a standard castle is no longer defensible. How would the fundamental design of a ...
50
votes
7answers
26k views

Creating a realistic world map - Landmass formation

This question focuses on the initial creation of landmasses. What are the processes that causes land-masses to form, and continents and islands to rise up from the sea and sink back into it? How can ...
47
votes
18answers
10k views

Is it possible for a species to have more than two sexes?

Every species I'm aware of on earth has two sexes (with the possible exception of species which change their sexes to allow self fertilization). Is it possible for a species to evolve which could ...
29
votes
5answers
3k views

What factors would allow for two dominant species on a world?

On Earth humanity has taken the dominant role (excluding dolphins and mice of course). We know of conflicts in pre-history where our ancestors have overtaken other species and slowly wiped them out. ...
0
votes
0answers
76 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 ...
81
votes
14answers
8k views

Is there a scientific explanation as to why aliens should look similar to us?

In almost all science-fiction stories that include alien races, said aliens are similar to humans in many ways: bipedal (and often humanoid), communicate with sounds coming out of a mouth, orient in ...
35
votes
2answers
3k views

What would be the evolutionary advantage for plants to be bioluminescent?

As fas as I know, there isn't a single plant on Earth that (naturally) produces any sort of luminescence. But it is seen in science-fiction worlds, especially Avatar. From an evolutionary point of ...
15
votes
2answers
770 views

Food sources for an undergound city

Lets assume a city exists underground, either in natural caves or synthetic tunnels. Are there any food sources underground, and what kind of population can they support?
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How could combat involving Alcubierre-drive starships occur?

In a setting with Alcubierre-drive starships (as per my answer here), it is inevitable that once the technology becomes common enough and enough different polities and organizations have such ships, ...
7
votes
3answers
259 views

Can sufficient magnetic shielding be provided by solar power? [closed]

Life on Earth is protected by Earth's magnetic field, which deflects high energy charged particles that arrive from the sun and from outside the solar system. This prevents damage to organisms. For a ...
22
votes
13answers
2k views

Ethical solution to generation ship where new generation want to go home

I can easily set a story in a dystopian environment not subject to ethics, but I would rather try to create a backdrop that is as ethical as possible given the requirements. I feel that writing about ...
44
votes
9answers
5k views

Wondering what would happen if magic was constrained by Conservation of Energy

Would throwing a fireball leave a trail of frost in its wake? Would transmuting too much lead into gold cause a small meltdown? Would collecting enough power to cast a really big spell like causing ...
45
votes
8answers
6k views

How do creatures with a hive mind communicate?

Suppose we have a civilisation which is made up of many creatures sharing a single hive mind. Each creature can see, hear and remember what each other member of the species (or possibly hive) has seen ...
17
votes
2answers
872 views

What basic principles should I keep in mind when scaling things up and down?

Making things bigger or smaller is common in speculative fiction (giant ants, tiny people, planets bigger than stars, and stars smaller than light bulbs.) What general principles should be kept in ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

What would an external observer see when passed by an Alcubierre drive ship?

My answer to the question Is there a scientifically sound faster-than-light travel system for a spaceship? involved an Alcubierre-drive starship. However, that then got me thinking. What would an ...
30
votes
9answers
3k views

Is there a scientifically plausible faster-than-light communication system?

In series such as the Hyperion Cantos and Ender's Game, there exist fictional faster-than-light communication systems allowing either instantaneous, or near-instantaneous transmission of information. ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

Are invisible creatures theoretically possible?

Would it be possible for a corporeal alien with a solid physical body (it must be able to touch and interact with the world) to exist but remain invisible to humans? My understanding of optics is ...
26
votes
2answers
4k views

How can I estimate how far into a cave network breathing is possible?

I want two populations to coexist in a world with extensive tunnels carved into the rock. One population lives in the tunnels, coming out to trade and gather food. The other is aware of the tunnels ...
12
votes
7answers
971 views

Methods of containing/combating “grey goo” Von Neumann nanomachines?

The grey goo end-of-the-world scenario in which lots of little microscopic Von Neumann self-replicating machines basically eat everything to make more of themselves. Eventually everything is grey goo....
20
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
480 views

What factors could lead to a narrow focus of technology?

In many SF stories (or fantasy if you replace science with magic), there is one technology that is hyper advanced in one specific field, like robotics in Real Humans or in Extant, but almost nothing ...
24
votes
6answers
6k views

Are dragons cold or warm blooded?

My world is science-based with an earth-like biology. The dragons fly when they're young and then grow too heavy and can only glide if at all. They breathe fire by expelling gas and igniting it. They ...
11
votes
1answer
286 views

Are infections necessary for human colonisation?

If a human colony is set up on another planet or moon, or in an orbiting habitat, most of the infectious diseases from Earth would not be present in the small initial population. Careful screening ...
8
votes
4answers
635 views

What natural or artificial geographical structures that could allow a large-scale true “water going down the drain” whirlpool?

As a child, I was always fascinated by the propensity of water going down a drain to form a vortex. I created a world with a global ocean where there was a narrow body of land running north-south ...
36
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a scientifically sound faster-than-light travel system for a spaceship?

Recurringly in Sci-Fi spaceships manage to make it to lightspeed and above. Is there a scientifically plausible explanation of such capacity? How does it impact the spaceship's design and its ...
32
votes
7answers
8k views

How extensive could a habitable twilight zone be on a tidally locked planet?

If a planet always faces the same side to the sun, so that it has a permanent night side and a permanent day side, it will have a twilight zone in between the two sides. This will be a band around the ...