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Questions tagged [technology]

For questions about the creation, use, and application of all types of technology.

163
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35answers
35k views

You are an advanced AI that controls a smart house. How do you kill your master? [closed]

Disclaimer: I have edited this question quite heavily to clear up the initial confusion about its scope and intent. Sometime in the near future, there have been some innovative inventions in the ...
122
votes
33answers
23k views

What cheap modern items can I use to bribe medieval people? [closed]

Inspired by this question about a time traveller. So, I've travelled to the medieval age. Think 12th / 13th century Europe. Unlike the time traveller in the other question, I did bring batteries for ...
117
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14answers
17k views

How can I ensure my Evil Tower is always stormy?

It's been a good year for me as an Evil Overlord. Lots of princess kidnapping turned into sizable ransoms, several of my Doomsday Devices were sold for high prices at auction, and my Minions have been ...
91
votes
26answers
14k views

Would relatively primitive people really confuse technology with magic?

It's common for people to say that if a time traveler or an alien displayed advanced technology to ancient or medieval people, that they'd assume it was magic, and either worship him as a god or burn ...
76
votes
33answers
26k views

If magic is real, can it be true that rational scientific thought should exclude it?

"Magic and science coexist." A tired phrase by now, because it's found in so much fiction. But can it make sense? Assume a world broadly parallel to our own. It has experienced its Age of ...
73
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24answers
15k views

How would primitive peoples detect radiation?

In an environment in which acute radiation hazards are common what tools or techniques could be employed by primitive people to detect and thereby avoid radiation exposure? These people do not ...
73
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19answers
13k views

How would an aquatic race develop computers?

Following on from this question and assuming the race in question had developed the ability to create tools how would they approach the need for mass calculation. Our early computers were used to ...
73
votes
27answers
11k views

Concealing my earth-changing invention

Imagine it. I've invented the single greatest thing since Fire. A machine that can turn matter into energy and energy into matter with almost absolute efficiency. Sure, it violates a couple of the ...
72
votes
19answers
17k views

How to keep a military technology secret while using it?

We are situated in an scenario like the Terran cold war in the 1980 era. I am the omnipotent dictator ahem.. president of the "good" side. Recently my research team completed some breakthrough in a ...
70
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18answers
11k views

How do I make an alien technology feel alien?

In a lot of science fiction series, such as Halo, Mass Effect and Gears of War, they show alien technology that is flatly human with a few added-on bells and whistles. It lacks the awe or feel of ...
69
votes
14answers
6k views

Must magic be tied to medieval tech?

Most settings with a magical component, whether this means wizards, magical races, or something similar, seem to be parked at a medieval level of development in terms of technology and society. Is ...
69
votes
12answers
8k views

Start a coup online without the government intervening

Dear NSA intern reading this post, I don't actually intend to start a coup Dear @DasBeasto - we'll be the judge of that. - NSA Consider a country pretty much exactly like modern day America. The ...
67
votes
10answers
18k views

Is there a real life substance like movie acid?

Is there a real life chemical or compound that exhibits the characteristics of stereotypical movie acid? From what I know of most acid, it is usually clear or just a little cloudy, but I'm looking ...
66
votes
34answers
18k views

What (modern) weapons could be used to destroy skeletal enemies as completely as possible?

As per the cliché, after getting hit by a truck, our protagonist finds herself in a 'swords and sorcery' fantasy world. Also as per the cliché, she is granted an overpowered ability to make her new ...
64
votes
19answers
15k views

What modern technology would be most revolutionary to ancient Greeks?

In Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" a nineteenth century character finds himself in medieval England and shortly manages to build all the "modern" inventions: from steam ...
62
votes
18answers
16k views

What would happen if an alien race gave us a computer capable of 2^256 calculations per second?

The security of public key cryptography relies on computers not being able to generate anywhere near 2256 guesses per any reasonable time length. The obvious implications of a computer this powerful ...
60
votes
31answers
22k views

How to solve the old 'gun on a spaceship' problem?

The problem: If somebody fires a (kinetic) gun on a spaceship, the bullet is likely to penetrate the hull and cause a host of problems. I want to incorporate spaceships and fighting on them and in ...
60
votes
7answers
12k views

Anatomically Correct Santa

With advanced technology would it be possible to make something like the Santa in the story as well as the reindeer? If so could a realistic Santa be a human or would him and his reindeer have to be ...
60
votes
13answers
9k views

How can I hide my island?

I'm a supervillain. I have no name, but you can rest assured my intentions are dubious and always result in general harm. My biggest problem these days are these pesky superheroes keep finding my ...
59
votes
37answers
15k views

Why would technology dictate graphical interfaces to be rare on spaceships?

This question differs from that question in that the other question is asking about a change in history while this question is looking for a change in the future. In a near future setting I am ...
59
votes
30answers
12k views

What is the least expensive way to annihilate humanity?

Suppose an evil genius (in 2015) wants to kill as much of humanity as possible. But he's on a budget; despite his years of stealing priceless historical artifacts, and despite having been selected for ...
58
votes
16answers
14k views

Could a human engineer comprehend alien electronics?

Let's say a human engineer comes across an alien electronics lab. It occurs to me that electrons are electrons, if the aliens are at a similar state of development to us then at least the simplest (...
54
votes
7answers
17k views

If I travelled in time to 1979… would my smartphone's gps still work?

I was wondering about this... don't ask me why. GPS began in 1978. Were the specifications the same as today? Would a 1978 GPS device work today... and would a modern one have worked then?
54
votes
12answers
8k views

Hacking the universe

Imagine the whole universe is a simulation. This should include also the people living in the universe (so more Simulacron than Matrix). And now imagine there's a group of hackers who knows (or ...
52
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24answers
11k views

Wooden sticks are the only allowed weapons in a technological society - how far would these weapons have progressed by now?

Imagine that the inhabitants of Earth all follow a religion that allows only wooden weapons. How would warfare look nowadays? Commandment 37. 37a) Thou shalt make weapons only from the wood of ...
52
votes
22answers
9k views

How do I defend an island nation from attackers with 15th century technology?

Apologies in advance that my bullet points got away from me and turned out a bit long, but I'm trying to give as much information as I can to ward off initial questions. Imagine the following ...
52
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21answers
7k views

How would humans adapt if low-wage labor was done by robots?

Background: Nearly all low-wage labor is done by humanoid robots (retail, factories, transport, sanitation, construction, mining, and similar fields). These robots have all the physical capabilities ...
51
votes
19answers
12k views

How to introduce my perpetual motion invention to the scientific community?

Let's say I invented a perpetuum mobile. For real! A wheel spins, or a voltage is provided across two metal prongs, whatever, without it requiring any fuel or input of energy. Maybe it uses some not ...
51
votes
20answers
11k views

Could an advanced alien race prevent the death of the universe?

We all know that the universe is going to die one day: all the stars will die, all the black holes will evaporate and life will be gone. But hypothetically speaking, if a super advanced alien race (...
51
votes
13answers
10k views

Would a steam powered plane be able to cross the Atlantic ocean?

In a world where the development of internal combustion engines had been seriously delayed (for whatever reason), would it have been possible to power heavier than air aircraft by steam propulsion? ...
49
votes
19answers
23k views

How can I build a Nuclear Reactor in my backyard?

In my world, having a nuclear reactor at your own house is legal, in fact government donates money in the form of subsidies ( So no constraints of funds). This might have been practical because of ...
49
votes
13answers
8k views

In a society of flying beings, would the wheel ever be invented?

The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. -- Douglas Adams. Humans can't fly. Not themselves. Sure, we can climb aboard a plane, a hot air balloon, or a rocket ...
49
votes
21answers
6k views

A small group recreating modern technology

Suppose a group of people get transported back in time (say 2500 years). Then, in a manner reminiscent of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, they try to re-design modern technology. Assume ...
47
votes
33answers
15k views

Why would a large percent of an otherwise sane population regularly play a virtual game that could get them killed

My world is basically the same as our own but with slightly more advanced cybernetics and virtual technology. Specifically, they have a technology to create true matrix level virtual worlds. The most ...
46
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26answers
13k views

If a large space ship crashes on a planet, what could kill passengers without obliterating the ship?

The situation I'm considering is as follows: A large research vessel with a crew of about 100-200 attempts to land on a potentially habitable planet, but something goes wrong during the descent. A ...
46
votes
5answers
10k views

Pew Pew Lasers! What would directed energy weapons actually sound like?

Anybody who has consumed a space opera movie, tv show, or video games knows that energy weapons go pew-pew. I however want to do something more creative for my setting, and with truth being stranger ...
46
votes
9answers
7k views

Could a mouth-mounted gun be fired without damage to the shooter?

The world where the question spans over a 100 years between 1945 and 2045, the story beginning just at the end of WWII, and proceeding in such a way that never saw the end of the Cold War all the way ...
45
votes
22answers
14k views

Would a 100% simulated war be a way to solve national conflict?

My world is similar to our daily world except that fully immersive virtual reality is already well-developed. The virtual reality is built by scanning real environment. The system was first used to do ...
44
votes
24answers
21k 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-...
44
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6answers
9k views

Can coins be made out of concrete or cement?

Would it be possible to make coins from concrete with designs like the metal ones?
44
votes
6answers
9k views

Can I use a trebuchet to launch satellites into space from a lunar colony?

I've got a lunar colony that struggles to obtain resources, so they're looking for ways to launch satellites into orbit without using up a bunch of rocket fuel. One plucky engineer has suggested ...
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 ...
44
votes
8answers
12k views

Could underwater living organism create technology?

Could underwater creatures with the intelligence of human cave men or possibly the intelligence of apes create technology (that is, more complex technology comparable to what we have now rather than ...
42
votes
4answers
8k views

Is it possible to create a Gas Mask using only Medieval Technology?

This question was inspired by this one, which brought up the concept that a lot of the issues with a sword that created toxic fumes would also kill the user (that question also has one of the best ...
42
votes
14answers
8k views

Can the Aztec Empire learn and reuse Conquistador technology?

In this alternate history, Christopher Columbus makes landfall in Central America, after passing south of Florida and sailing through the Gulf of Mexico, arriving right on the doorstep of the Aztec ...
41
votes
28answers
10k views

Why buy tech from the future?

The Demonstration You're a rich, successful CEO/capitalist working in the electronics business. Your R&D division is exceptional and routinely fabs state of the art processors at bleeding edge ...
40
votes
11answers
9k views

Could medieval people produce automatic firearms if they had access to the schematics?

Assume you traveled back in time to the middle ages, and you brought with you the schematics of a fully automatic firearm. Could a group of experienced smiths and jewelers reproduce it? What would the ...
39
votes
29answers
14k views

A way of getting the water to the top of the tall building without electricity?

First, let me explain the situation. Post-apocalypse setting, a group of humans (lets say around a hundred of them) have to find safe places to live at, protected from animals, bandits and other ...
39
votes
18answers
10k views

Why would super-advanced aliens go undercover as humans?

A common sight in science fiction is that aliens pretend to be human (For example in Third Rock from the Sun). Obviously if the aliens are advanced enough to disguise themselves as another ...
39
votes
16answers
13k views

What difficulty would the Roman Empire have besieging a fantasy kingdom's 49 m wall?

I'm trying to work out the logistics of a little fantasy-historical piece I'm working on. Rome at the height of its power (c. 117 CE) has decided to invade a fantasy kingdom up north. It has a ...