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Questions tagged [science]

Questions about science and the perception of science in a fictional world. Use [science-based] for questions on how to explain fictional things based on real-world science. Use tags relating to specific fields (such as for example [space-exploration], [astronomy], [biology], [xenobiology], [mathematics], [sociology], ...) for questions relating to particular fields of science.

94
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17answers
23k views

Would somebody from the middle ages be able to identify an atomic / nuclear bomb?

Setting: a fantasy world with a culture loosely based on the late middle ages or early renaissance, with more value placed on the fantasy elements than strictly adhering to a proper "time period" (i.e....
72
votes
26answers
18k views

Why would any interstellar starship still bother with streamline body design?

Let's not debate whether is there any friction while traveling inside vacuum space and assume all ships can brave a perfect storm brewing inside the giant molecular cloud. OK let's get down to ...
56
votes
7answers
20k views

Can stone be “recycled” by melting and cooling it? [closed]

This is something I've been thinking about for a while. Say a block of marble is used to sculpt a statue. Most of the stone is chipped away and is effectively useless. Instead of it being tossed, ...
52
votes
10answers
12k views

How to be hidden from world for a year

Question inspired by a book I just finished: Dan Brown's Inferno Suppose I am a wealthy billionaire who wants to hide from the outside world for a year. Plot twist is, that the world's anti-...
51
votes
23answers
11k views

What possible scientific reasons could there be for a vampire to only be killable via wooden stake to the heart?

This excludes metal stakes, knives etc. to the heart, it's not the bleeding out that's the issue. Just for some reason, a wooden stake to the heart ends a vampire. Why? Assume the type of vampire ...
49
votes
11answers
15k views

Given immortality can animals become intelligent?

The animal in question starts off with reptile like intelligence, classic gecko and is a singularity, the only individual of his species to be immortal. It can die and be killed but for the sake of ...
48
votes
12answers
8k views

How would you know your floating island was losing altitude?

The question: What realistic environmental signs would telegraph to the occupants of a floating landmass that their home was slowly losing altitude? The planet: I'm working on a story that takes ...
48
votes
7answers
4k views

Learning new physics from a superhero

Last week, a young woman came by my physics lab. She demonstrated the telekinetic ability to rotate things from a distance. We did some quick tests, but we couldn't find any previously known ...
44
votes
12answers
7k views

Does knowing a technology exists make it develop faster? [duplicate]

Let's say aliens arrive on Earth and demonstrate that Fusion is possible and leave (and don't tell us how). Would we develop Fusion technology faster without being told about how it works by the ...
36
votes
6answers
11k views

Why did Europeans not widely domesticate foxes?

So I've been thinking for a while about making a world where cats aren't as common and instead are more of a regional domesticated animal, replaced in (mostly Northwestern) Europe by foxes. How come ...
35
votes
7answers
4k views

Evidence of spacetime anomaly in local geology?

My current project features a contemporary scientist who is convinced that some sort of spacetime anomaly occurred in a tiny rural Yorkshire, U.K. community circa-1850; he believes a dilapidated old ...
34
votes
4answers
5k views

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Ray - A Hyper-Scanning Doomsday Weapon

From what I know about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, one of its consequences is that when you learn a great deal about the position of a particle, you greatly increase the uncertainty of the ...
32
votes
10answers
5k views

Which jobs could western geniuses, who lived between 1643-1900, have in the modern age related to their talents?

I'm trying to write a comedy where as a plot device I have: Some of the greatest western minds of human history, who lived between 1643 and 1900, are transported into the modern age. I still haven't ...
29
votes
21answers
12k views

How to make a metal with extraordinary property worthless?

In a RPG scenario, players will look for a MacGuffin Metal (aka MGM.), experiencing the farwest gold fever. Short Story: Context : Farwest(~1880), steam punk. First encounter : In a 3-5 minutes ...
27
votes
7answers
7k views

Humans as batteries; how useful would they be?

If you were to hook up a human being to a sort of syringe sized water wheel to generate power using the force of their blood flow; how much power could they generate? Consider a human in a medically ...
26
votes
11answers
7k views

Everyday tasks on a space ship

There is a space ship, flying from planet to planet for multiple years. It is a science vessel, so, once they reach a planet, they do research. But what do they do if they are in transit between ...
26
votes
12answers
5k views

Spaceflight without transistors and nuclear power - how to bend the history of physics?

As stated in the topic: I would like to have Project Olympus-style space stations served by Apollo-like spacecraft in a world where neither nuclear power (and weapons) nor transistors were developed ...
26
votes
11answers
5k views

Which plant species would be most likely to recover after a decade of no light?

Presume a decade of darkness, after a several months of steadily shortening daylight. Assume that the temperature and weather patterns remain (inexplicably) fairly unchanged. Ten years later, when ...
25
votes
19answers
4k views

What could limit geographically a resource such as an ore to a specific spot on a planet?

In a world naturally formed where some magic exists but is mainly used by sentient species, I'm trying to come up with a more or less scientific way to explain how this special, rare ore (going to be ...
24
votes
4answers
4k views

Could a human baby develop and grow into an adult under constant 3-4G?

Would that even be possible? Will the bones deform during early infancy? Will the cartilages between joints wear off faster? Will internal organs collapse under their own weight? I have no ...
23
votes
17answers
8k views

Can an alien society believe that their star system is the universe?

Throughout history, humanity has made a few scientific blunders where a scientific principle held as fact for hundreds of even thousands of years is found to be completely or mostly false. Our ...
23
votes
11answers
4k views

How can I define good in a religion that claims no moral authority?

Faith is defined as a belief in God based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Religion and science can be seen to oppose one another due to conflicts between people of those practices. In my ...
23
votes
4answers
5k views

What happens when two flames meet from opposite sides?

What happens when two flames (whether from dragons or blowtorches) meet head on? Many films make it appears as a front where the two flames repel each other, but my intuition is that, in fact, the two ...
19
votes
13answers
2k views

Noah's flood actually happened. When does science prove that it happened?

Plot Noah's Flood actually happened more or less as written. Suddenly appearing flood waters covered the Earth, excepting a few mountain tops, and all land animals had to wait it out on an Ark. The ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

What non-arachnid animal would be capable of spinning a web?

Spiders produce silk, a protein fibre able to construct webs and dens. But is there an existing animal (preferably a vertebrate) that would be able to evolve a similar ability of producing a silk-like ...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

Blue soil (aka dirt) in an earth-like planet?

How could blue soil exist, in a realistic earth-like world. The world may even be earth. First off is it even possible - could soil like this exist given the requirements below? (if not then why?) ...
18
votes
12answers
3k views

Why would magic and science be split?

As previously noted, magic would most likely be able to be studied by the scientific method. Indeed, science would likely at least try to understand magic, if not incorporate it. My question is, what ...
17
votes
17answers
6k views

Swimming in space. What is the mechanism?

A large (compared to Earth life) species of creatures live in space. They gain energy from interstellar dust and starlight. How they do this is a separate question so not relevant here. However they ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

How would a physicist explain this starship engine?

In my world, interstellar vessels use a drive whose design mankind learned from an extinct elder civilization. While construction of the drives is possible, the physical principles making them work ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

Could plants develop sentience?

This question is almost exactly like Could plants develop intelligence, but now I wonder (how) could plant life develop sentience, to the point where it becomes as intelligent as humans? Is a brain ...
14
votes
13answers
5k views

How plausible is a 'tilted axis' planet with a “south pole” constantly facing toward its star?

The basic concept of this planet is that, the planet has a tilted axis (you probably guessed that already) which results in the South Pole constantly facing towards the sun. This would result in the ...
14
votes
10answers
2k views

Realistic Airships

I'm looking for an answer concerning a steam powered airship. The steam is generated via coal burning. The ship is propelled by an X amount of steam engine propellers (think Besler steam plane). The ...
13
votes
10answers
4k views

Reverse engineering electronics

I haven't found this question anywhere else so I don't think it's a duplicate. So here it goes, some background information of the world. Suppose there is a civilization with access to magic which ...
13
votes
16answers
56k views

Does anyone know of a poison that can be ingested and is undetectable in autopsy?

I am a fictional writer and need info on a poison that can be put in food and is undetectable in autopsy. Symptoms also can't be too messy, no specific time in how long it takes to take effect.
13
votes
8answers
4k views

How can a ship dock in space?

Due to the outcome of this question (Is there any way to Terraform Ceres?) I am now working on the concept of shell worlds. Docking would be done by large spires with adjoining rings where once the ...
12
votes
12answers
4k views

Is it possible to make sharp wind that can cut stuff from afar?

You know the typical wind slash in anime or games where the swordsman slashes from afar either vertically or horizontally and the wind pressure or projectile cut the opponent, like in this image for ...
12
votes
10answers
1k views

What kind of planet would be needed to create aliens which are significantly larger and stronger than humans?

I was wondering what kind of planet would lead to aliens being significantly larger and stronger than humans. From my understanding, a planet with lighter gravity would lead to larger creatures, but ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Nuclear propulsion: viable long-term launch strategy?

So recently there was this interesting theory -the paper itself is quite readable, but here's an article link that expands on it. Basically, it states that aliens on those very habitable but massive ...
12
votes
4answers
495 views

Is there any concrete benefit in justifying all supernatural phenomena with one system?

TL;DR: Is there any objective benefit in explaining supernatural phenomena using a single, well-defined and universally applicable system resembling a set of laws of physics? A friend of mine is ...
11
votes
9answers
4k views

Could scientists test a theory of everything?

I'm ready to reduce a certain amount of scientific rigor for a good story. In my world, some person invents a theory of everything. Is there a way that scientists would test the theory, to prove that ...
11
votes
16answers
3k views

What stops a race of giants from wiping out humanity?

Starting from 435 A.D., a race of sea-faring giants has made land-fall in Eurasia and is raising hell. Due to socio-political pressures in their island homelands in Polynesia and Australia (constant ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

If quadruped mammals evolve to become bipedal will their breast or nipple change position?

As the title says, you know stuff like minotaur, lycanth or werewolf, cat or dog folk, etc especially for the female specimens. I want to know what happen if quadrupedal mammals which usually have ...
11
votes
2answers
770 views

How far would science advance if we lived in a cave? [closed]

In the book The Quantum Universe, the author suggests that: If the human race evolved in an underground cave system, never to see the sky, it is possible that they could have imagined a ball of ...
10
votes
7answers
4k views

Is there really no realistic way for a skeleton monster to move around without magic?

One of the solutions I think is making the muscle go inside the bone, something look like an exoskeleton creature. either mechanical or organic making the artificial muscle developed inside the marrow,...
10
votes
9answers
3k views

What would the next step be after code? [closed]

What I'm asking is what comes next? We've got code, we have all this technology on earth- My world takes place in our timeframe and has identical tech. A supersized military computer from years ago ...
10
votes
7answers
917 views

What's a plausible way prove the existence of the “electron” to the doubters? [closed]

So, at many colleges in the North American region, most famously the New Jerusalem University and Chicago Collegium, much old world, pre-apocalyptic information is often taught at schools, including ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Taxonomy of genetically engineered species

The Context I have a group of genetically engineered people known as 'crows'. Their genome has been meddled with significantly enough that they are unable to successfully reproduce with humans, but ...
10
votes
6answers
390 views

Do moons determine the speeds at which tides move? Is there a limit to this speed?

I'm writing a short story that takes place on an imaginary planet that is 88% ocean. The planet has two moons and one continent that is regularly flooded under 500 to 1500 feet of water. The tides are ...
10
votes
3answers
352 views

How could these giant animals travel oversea?

I've got these 2 giant apes like creatures who are too heavy to go on the ship to be taken to another continent. What are some ways that they could possibly get across the sea? This is a medieval epic ...
9
votes
9answers
2k views

How to make magic different from science [duplicate]

I am building a world that has both magic and technology. I'm wondering how to make magic that is different form fields of science such as biology or chemistry. Simply put I don't want magic to ...