Questions tagged [science-fiction]

For questions relating to worlds with a setting of common science-fiction.

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129
votes
22answers
17k views

Why are there no toilets on the starship 'Exciting Undertaking'?

DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to other starships (living or dead) is purely coincidental. The starship 'Exciting Undertaking' is a brand new ship about to set off on a five and a bit year mission to ...
31
votes
26answers
6k views

Which goods make sense to transport over interstellar distances? [duplicate]

Think about the Nostromo from Alien. A giant freight ship that transports iron ore (!) over many light years (passing several other systems) to Earth on a year long trip. I think most will agree that ...
17
votes
13answers
3k views

Science-based FTL drive

So I'm writing a story about a crew of scientists that explore the universe searching for a hidden knowledge in embed in the fabric of the space itself. More like to the Destiny's crew from Stargate ...
8
votes
3answers
520 views

Captured Earth-Like Moons around Gas Giants

Is there a limit (and if so, what is it) to the size (mass) of terrestrial planet that could be "captured" as a moon by a migrating gas giant? I'm writing a novel where a colony ship crashes on such ...
93
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25answers
26k views

Would intelligent life evolve any other body plan than humanoid?

Disclaimer: This question uses some liberal wording to get key ideas across. It's not meant to be academically rigorous, so please try to focus on the ideas and not the exact definitions of the terms ...
67
votes
21answers
14k views

How do we tell if we're living in a virtual reality world?

Since I haven't found anything like this yet. I was reading a novel and it talked about how some people created a 'Artificial Virtual Reality World' where the denizens were Human Artificial ...
16
votes
2answers
967 views

Order of Solar System Colonization

As human population continues to grow and need for raw resources grow, various nations and private organizations begin colonization efforts of our Solar System beyond the blue and green sphere we call ...
31
votes
15answers
12k views

Is mathematics a truly universal language?

The quote has many forms, but is basically "mathematics is a universal language." My question is if this is true? If we met aliens could we use mathematics to talk to them? The fact that we could ...
22
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4answers
9k views

Would an ice bullet work? [closed]

Would a bullet made from ice be capable of killing somebody at 100 metres before melting? As an author I would like to use this in a science fiction novel.
21
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7answers
3k views

How might it be possible to move a star?

I'm imagining a super-powerful spacefaring race which has the capability to build or modify a star system or even galaxy by moving stars around, but I wonder if it's really feasible. Is it ...
6
votes
1answer
797 views

Visibility in a ringworld atmosphere?

So I am proposing a ring-world of approximately 1600 km diameter. The ring spins for earth like gravity. The ring itself would be several kilometers thick with Earth like variations in elevation (i....
117
votes
35answers
23k views

Why would giant mechs use melee weapons?

Mechs are really just giant usually bipedal walking tin cans with their human pilot inside. I mean, shoot the legs and they can't move much anymore. Not really realistic. Regardless, in a futuristic ...
49
votes
8answers
6k views

Stopping time, by speeding it up inside a bubble

Imagine I have a device that can stop time for the person who holds it (similar to Bernard's Watch). This device works in a very specific way - it creates a bubble around the user (just large enough ...
39
votes
25answers
9k views

Why would a civilisation choose to inhabit a single enormous vessel instead of maintaining interstellar colonies?

The setting: Very distant future, Earth is long gone/forgotten/just not around anymore. Humanity, whatever it may consist of (people, AI, something in-between) inhabits a single vast generation ship ...
29
votes
17answers
9k views

What society might survive the 3 generation rule

A not widely accepted psycho-social phenomenon but one our descendents might sometime face, the Three Generation Rule states: that the degree of social discipline needed for a space habitat to ...
8
votes
2answers
436 views

What does the physiology and biochemistry of a vacuum adapted post-human look like? Part 3: Metabolism

I am a post-human adapted for permanent life in vacuum and micro-gravity. How might my physiology and biochemistry overcome the following challenges? Please note I have a strong cultural aversion to ...
7
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4answers
1k views

How to convincingly explain Kaiju

This will be a companion question for How plausible is my monster?. My previous question dealt with a story treatment for a hard science and realistic take on Kaiju/ giant monsters. While that story ...
4
votes
5answers
412 views

What does the physiology and biochemistry of a vacuum adapted post-human look like? Part 1: Radiation resistance

I am a post-human adapted for permanent life in vacuum and micro-gravity. How might my physiology and biochemistry overcome the following challenges? Please note I have a strong cultural aversion to ...
12
votes
9answers
885 views

Ways to make contact with aliens on a much larger size scale?

One answer to the question of "Why don't we see any aliens?" prompted me to consider: The computer was a comparatively simple design, what the natives would call “single core” Von Neumann ...
5
votes
4answers
288 views

What does the physiology and biochemistry of a vacuum adapted post-human look like? Part 2: Temperature control

I am a post-human adapted for permanent life in vacuum and micro-gravity. How might my physiology and biochemistry overcome the following challenges? Please note I have a strong cultural aversion to ...
7
votes
3answers
229 views

Is it possible for coronal mass ejections or perhaps a gamma ray burst to cause firestorms on an earth-like planet?

Ideally this would be some sort of sun or star-related natural disaster that would affect the entire planet and make life outside of protected/shielded areas extremely dangerous. This is a human-...
34
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14answers
5k views

What kind of society and morals would an alien species evolved from solitary carnivores have?

I am envisioning a space faring species, evolved from an obligate carnivore and apex predator. The obvious concept to me is a tiger like species with prehensile tails that became increasingly adapted ...
39
votes
13answers
4k views

How would one destroy a black hole?

Science-Fiction has tools to destroy anything: atoms, molecules, DNA, cellular organisms, multicellular organisms, buildings, streets, cities, countries, continents, planets, and even stars. Some ...
53
votes
25answers
9k views

What all stops working when I pause time?

Somewhat, not really related. In my young adult story, the main character has a mechanism that allows her to pause time, and do things while everything is frozen. I have no problem 'magic'ing the ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Reality of a Tidally Locked Planet? [closed]

I am currently working on a futuristic sci-fi story and here comes the world building part. I have been doing researches and brainstorming for days, but I feel like I may seek creative opinions from ...
11
votes
3answers
517 views

What earth conditions would make a permanent bronze-colored sky?

From a science-fiction development perspective I am looking for some plausible answer for the following: What conditions (the more permanent, the better) would make for a bronze sky? All the better, ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Why aren't complex devices or electronics ever built out of force fields in science fiction? [closed]

Most science fiction dealing in the subject of force fields depicts them in a similar and unsophisticated light, e.g. force fields rarely do anything besides form basic polygons to create walls, ...
3
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4answers
2k views

How many of a Typical Sci Fi Army would you need to take a planet? [closed]

I am writing a fan story for a well known universe with typical Sci Fi armies. (For those who want to knows which, in this universe people seems to love Pauldrons and gothic architecture) They ...
15
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7answers
11k views

Handheld weapons, plasma vs. laser

Assume a fairly futuristic scenario where we can deal with the energy requirements of handheld laser weapons and the realistic creation of plasma ammunition etc. From what I understand a plasma gun ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

How much energy to destroy the crust of a planet?

In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode The Die is Cast. A planetary bombardment scene occured where 17 shots was stated to have destroyed 30% of a planet's crust. Now obviously that's a HUGE amount ...
14
votes
16answers
5k views

Orienting a pilot inside a space fighter

My question stems from What would a space fighter look like? After reading through @dsollen's question can a human fighter pilot fully grasp 3 dimensional frictionless movement in space? I started ...
13
votes
9answers
715 views

How to blow up a star by accident?

I have this race of space-dwarves and I need to make them homeless due to technological hubris of some kind: for plot reasons. I think that if they were to attempt to build some kind of Dyson sphere ...
3
votes
2answers
434 views

How would digestion work for an alien species with a diet of minerals?

If an alien species ate minerals (aka a lithovore species), how might their bodies differ from ours? How would they eat/digest the materials? Do those answsers change if they eat substances like ...
2
votes
6answers
436 views

Melting the core [duplicate]

I have suggested that you could use antimatter to melt the core of Mars and restart the magnetic "dynamo", but it occurs to me that I never really considered exactly "how" you could do this. Melting ...
61
votes
29answers
11k views

What realistic way could limit an FTL drive to only travelling between stars?

How could a Faster than light drive be limited to only travelling between different solar systems, and not within a solar system? I don't really want to allow travel between planets in the same solar ...
45
votes
24answers
22k views

Why do aliens who visit us have higher tech than us? Couldn't they wait for us to have it too?

It is a well known fact that if aliens invaded, it would be our puny kill-one-person-then-reload-for-half-a-second-or-more-firearms against their super-cool-ultra-mega-thingy-laser-mumble-quantum-...
31
votes
15answers
5k views

How to avoid FTL as a plot device?

Many SF stories feature faster-than-light travel as essentially a trope: Roddenberry has stated☡ that the Enterprise travels at the speed of plot. As an allegory of the south seas, or some throw-away ...
33
votes
9answers
4k views

How are there so many species on the space station 'A long way from anywhere V'?

Here on the Space Station 'A long way from anywhere V' (not to be confused with any other space stations) a wide variety of species pass through on their way to the Krasnikov tube terminal. Even the ...
8
votes
5answers
645 views

What minerals and metals in particular were vital to the development of early civilization?

This question springs off this one. I am building a science-fantasy world, because I like the idea of civilizations without metal I decided to incorporate it. However rather than make metal scarce I ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Gravitational slingshots: could they be used to decelerate a spacecraft traveling at a small fraction of light speed?

I have heard of gravitational slingshots being used to theoretically accelerate a spacecraft using a planet's gravity and momentum in orbit. But how about decelerating a ship? If it is at all possible,...
14
votes
22answers
4k views

A sufficient justification for the infantry using lethal, directed energy weapons

It is really really hard to beat kinetic energy as a way to transfer energy to a target. I'd expect handheld railguns before lasers. – John Meacham 20 mins ago It's just simply hard to find a ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

How do you produce fast grown working clones?

In story after sci-fi story you have images of clones stepping out of some sort of gooey bathtub or cloudy coffin type device. Be they a single doppelganger or whole clone armies. MY SETTING I am ...
17
votes
9answers
2k views

Physics Plus: Artifical Gravity in Space

This is the next piece in my question-series, you guys have been absolutely awesome in your answers to the first question: How to solve the old 'gun on a spaceship' problem? In this series, I try to ...
14
votes
5answers
464 views

Internally consistent grav-plating

So in (a lot of) sci-fi we have magic gravity that gives up and down and layer-cake decks, and nice and easy set design for the TV studios. I’m actually pretty much okay with this, but what rubs me ...
9
votes
8answers
632 views

How big would an amorphous blob have to be to toss part of itself into orbit?

First contact with an alien life form often goes badly. In the case of Biothanata, it always goes badly. The first glimpse of this alien blob is in the form of a falling star, a meteorite. After ...
9
votes
17answers
3k views

Why would humans help an alien race to wage war on another?

The year is 2121, it has been only six months since we made contact with alien race A, we don't know very much about them except these things: They have many military spaceships made of technology ...
16
votes
14answers
7k views

Could you populate a hospitable planet with only a vial of DNA?

In my world, the characters have to travel to a new planet and start all over again. Say they make the journey in a space ship transporting a bunch of human DNA samples. If this ship crashed on the ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

How would we fare against an interstellar RKKV Attack? [closed]

In this hypothetical scenario, in the present day, astronomers detect an object entering the heliosphere, at a distance of roughly 90AU, from the direction of the Proxima Centauri system. Observations ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Single biome (hot) desert planet, possible?

I have the below snippet describing a planet in a (hard) sci-fi setting. This harsh planet has some human settlers, who can survive the climate in light weight environmental suits. The planet is a ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Redesigning the human body to flourish on a high-gravity world?

This answer states that "guided evolution" would help babies develop under constant 3-4g's. This answer has inspired me to ask , what sort of genetic tinkering would help humans adapt to life on a ...