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70
votes
17answers
17k views

How can I move a planet?

There are a lot of answers on Worldbuilding about how to destroy planets - just as an example - and they seem to be the method of choice for many people intent on destroying the world. My objection to ...
127
votes
18answers
81k views

What is the minimum human population necessary for a sustainable colony?

How many humans are needed in order to sustain and grow a steady population in a habitable area? Assume resources are adequate and the environment is favorable. To further refine this question, let'...
69
votes
11answers
57k views

How many people can you feed per square-kilometer of farmland?

Questions about how to feed a large population keep popping up on this website quite frequently. One obvious option is farming. But how many people can you feed per square-kilometer of farmland? ...
173
votes
18answers
64k views

How could dragons be explained without magic?

Dragons are a grand classic of fantasy. For this question, let's assume we're talking about the following stereotype: hatches from an ostrich-sized egg and can grow to mountain size if nothing limits ...
52
votes
9answers
6k views

Are there any ways to allow some form of FTL travel without allowing time travel?

Faster than light travel is a really cool thing to have in sci-fi settings. It allows humans, in relatable time scales, to travel the galaxy and see a variety of worlds. It allows for conflicts ...
104
votes
6answers
28k views

How would having multiple moons affect tides?

We know that planets can have multiple moons, sometimes quite a few (like Jupiter). Assuming that a planet with several moons were habitable in the first place and has significant oceans (greater ...
64
votes
4answers
6k views

Can you simply scale up animals?

There have been a number of questions focusing on mythical creatures where the logical approach to answering has been to scale up an existing animal. For example dragon's wings can be extrapolated ...
49
votes
6answers
10k views

Could two planets be tidally locked to each other so close they share their atmosphere?

Could two planets be tidally locked to each other at such a small distance from one another that they share their atmosphere, and material is floating around between the two?
90
votes
24answers
11k views

The Challenge of Controlling a Powerful AI

By now, everyone is familiar with the remarkable achievements of special-purpose AIs like Deep Blue and Watson. Now, it is clear that as our accumulated knowledge of algorithmic methods and of the ...
65
votes
24answers
9k views

The opposite to Worldbuilding: World Destruction

I am looking at different ways to destroy a planet. I am assuming the planet is of a similar size and composition to the Earth just to keep things simple. I am starting at boiling the atmosphere to ...
60
votes
16answers
11k views

Stealth in Space: How realistic is it?

This has been considered other places on the net, but I thought it would be good for the hard-science challenge, since it is often an example of the subtle difference between soft and hard science. ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

A list of worldbuilding resources

We are occasionally asked for advice about the worldbuilding process. By its creative and imaginative nature, the process of worldbuilding doesn't have a single obvious starting point or a step-by-...
38
votes
7answers
8k views

Hard Sci-fi energy shields

I'm making a fairly hard Sci-Fi story, and I was wondering what the most scientifically plausible 'energy shield' (for ships and stations) would be. My world tries to remain true to basic physics, but ...
25
votes
7answers
12k views

Anatomically Correct Angels

As part II of anatomically correct myths here we have the Angel. Angels appear in many cultures and are most commonly seen as simply winged humans. Is there a realistic way that angels could evolve? ...
42
votes
8answers
9k views

How powerful of a computer do I need to simulate and emulate a human brain?

The title is pretty self-explanatory. How powerful does a computer have to be before it has the hardware capability to simulate and emulate a human mind in real-time? I'm leaving the question of the ...
55
votes
6answers
14k views

Other blood colors

Many people know that our blood is red because it is iron based. Many people also know that blood is blue or green if it is copper based. I'm wondering what color blood would be if it was let's say ...
65
votes
28answers
30k views

Plausible Reasons for usage of Combat Mecha

So, assuming that the technology is readily available and that we could build these mecha as easily as we build modern tanks or planes. What would be a good advantage in using a legged (not ...
36
votes
3answers
7k views

Habitable moon of a gas giant: working out the sizes and distances

I am attempting to create fictional, stable P-Type binary system, featuring a gas giant in a stable orbit, with a habitable Earth-like moon. “Is a Jupiter-sized planet plausible in a habitable zone?” ...
57
votes
8answers
5k views

Is there a credible way a shapeshifter could gain/lose body mass when changing forms?

Shapeshifters are creatures which are able to, based on will or some sort of external stimuli, change between different forms while still remaining the same individual. Sometimes they retain the same ...
57
votes
6answers
10k views

How far away would an alien civilization need to be for us to not notice them?

Far away, across the vastness of space, lies an alien civilization, who are pretty similar to us. They've got ice cream, peer to peer networking, and photography. More importantly, they do lots of ...
35
votes
11answers
7k views

Would humans be able to derive nutrition from foodstuffs found on alien planets?

Suppose humans have developed the technology to travel between star systems. This might be some science-fiction method like warp drive, jump drive, peanut butter drive, hyperspace drive or whatever, ...
23
votes
7answers
4k views

What are some plausible super materials? [closed]

Background Science fiction is rife with "super materials". Most often the materials are made from elements unknown to Current Era (CE) science. They use names that make us think of elements without ...
26
votes
5answers
2k views

Can you add a mini moon to Earth?

So we have had multiple questions on having multiple moons and this is another. I did check and didn't find questions that covered this specific setup. I have an earth-like world I am working on, ...
55
votes
3answers
21k views

Creating a realistic world map - Currents, Precipitation and Climate

Once geological processes and erosion have created a landscape this landscape will in turn alter the planet. Ocean currents and trade winds will tend to form and certain weather patterns will emerge. ...
85
votes
14answers
9k 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 ...
47
votes
8answers
14k 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 ...
37
votes
2answers
10k views

How would winds behave on a tidally locked planet?

If an earth-sized planet were tidally locked to a star, and was in the life zone of its star with an earth-like atmosphere, what would its wind patterns be like? The planet would have one hot ...
66
votes
5answers
3k 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, ...
60
votes
29answers
14k views

How would humanity enter a Dark Age?

Humans have grown fat, complacent and cock-sure of the certainty of future progress, arrogantly expecting to build minds in their own image. They even dream of building themselves a city, with a tower ...
35
votes
4answers
8k views

How to make a realistic 'giant'

Imagine a race of what we would call 'giants', each of them possibly around 8 to 10 feet (2.40-3.00 meters) tall. What differences would they need compared to us regular humans in order to function? I ...
29
votes
14answers
7k views

Can airborne floating/flying islands be scientifically possible?

I'm sure that this has been asked before, but I need floating islands for a fiction story I'm writing. It takes place 5000 years after a catastrophic event (on a vaguely earth-like planet populated ...
43
votes
23answers
10k views

What would be best way to re-melt Mars' mantle and core to revive its magnetosphere

Missing magnetosphere on Mars keeps popping up. Most likely caused by Mars core being cold, mantle not bubbly enough. Mars mantle is dormant, core does not move. What would be good way to get it ...
38
votes
13answers
15k views

Could a creature evolve a biological “bulletproof vest”?

A variety of Earth species have hard, more or less rigid shells covering parts of or their entire bodies as a defense against predators. These work to a varying degree depending on the specific ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

How to make a flying human

We are in a future where genetics has advanced to a point where arbitrary modifications can be done to living beings. Now a geneticist wants to make a flying human. That is, he wants to modify a human ...
175
votes
21answers
20k views

How might modern humans leave a message for 50,000 years?

I recently played my way through the Mass Effect game series, and one of the ideas I found most intriguing was the emphasis placed on "time capsules" sent from one cycle to the next: not only did ...
46
votes
7answers
30k views

If accelerated natural healing were to occur, what would happen to the human body?

The Details: The human body is capable of impressive acts of self-repair, but such processes take a lot of time, and can take a toll on the body. Infection or other complications can also develop, and ...
58
votes
14answers
32k views

Would the human body support living on planets with a greater gravity than Earth?

I once read a novel about a prison-planet which was chosen to make the prisoners suffer. One of the different "tortures" was a gravity three times higher than that on Earth. Would the human body ...
41
votes
5answers
6k views

How do seasons work in a binary system (planet orbits one star, not both)?

I have a planet orbiting one star in a binary system. When the planet is exactly between the two stars it will experience a double day; when the primary sun sets the secondary one rises, no overlap. ...
241
votes
22answers
42k views

What's the smallest change to physics required to allow magic?

Yesterday my 7-year-old daughter asked me: Why can't I do magic for real? I answered: because of the law of conservation of energy! And I briefly explained this law. Thus she grumbled "a single ...
81
votes
13answers
13k views

Are there techniques for creating alien or foreign sounding names?

An interesting setting conducive to telling many stories in? Go! Well thought out inhabitants in this setting with diverse cultural backgrounds? Go! A proper noun for any of it? Houston, we ...
30
votes
3answers
3k views

What efficiencies make a realistic food chain?

I'm trying to design a food chain. For the sake of argument lets say it's based on flying creatures over a particular mountain range. ...
50
votes
6answers
34k views

If we put humans on planets with atmospheres different from Earth's atmosphere, but still containing oxygen, would humans be able to breathe?

From Wikipedia: By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. For example, would humans be able to survive in ...
38
votes
16answers
5k views

Resources to justify long-distance space mining missions

Earth is setting up mining colonies on Tau Ceti e. But how can they justify the enormous cost of sending people there? ...Because during the initial exploratory missions, it was discovered that in ...
48
votes
3answers
13k views

Is there a maximum size an ocean bound creature could grow to?

Assuming the ocean is deep enough and not overcrowded is there any upper limits to the size a "sea monster" can grow? On land creatures are limited by gravity, they have to be able to generate the ...
16
votes
6answers
4k views

What would be the tallest possible height for humanlike creatures in earthlike conditions?

This is about "giants" inhabiting a fictional earth-like planet somewhere in the Universe (like those in the movie Prometheus, for example). Assuming that all the conditions (temperature, gravity, ...
48
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the amputationility of a monomolecular wire weapon?

Monomolecular wire weapons are a somewhat common element in science-fiction. Including in this this fantastic image I found while looking into this: Is the only infeasible thing in this image that ...
0
votes
2answers
920 views

How does a spacecraft attempt an intercept course with a hostile one realistically (Part II)?

Well, gentlemen. Here is Part II. We know what to do about the manoeuvre, but we need to know possible tactical options the two Task Groups would use. Background Now, as previously specified, we ...
51
votes
7answers
29k 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 ...
76
votes
33answers
28k 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 ...
67
votes
13answers
13k views

Are flying plants possible?

Is it possible for a plant to have the ability to fly? More exactly, the plant would either need to live without having any roots (and it would never need to touch the ground), or with the ability ...

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