57

Internal politics. There was a period where the politicians made bigger and bigger messes and the voters grew more and more impatient with them. It seemed like everybody was corrupt. A new party called the Openness Party appears. They have a charismatic leader and win votes with a simple promise: "No more secrets!" It starts as a local party and wins the ...


47

Large scale albedo changes Albedo is the reflectivity of solar radiation off the surface of a planet or moon or something. It represents how much of the solar radiation is sent back into space as opposed to how much is retained. The planetary albedo of the Earth is about 0.367. However, this varies greatly from place to place. Cumulus clouds and fresh ...


45

•98% of all the landmass is wasteland/desert •The two poles are some big chunks of ice, each covering about 20% of earths area This is rather confusing. Yes, I get that there are also cold deserts, but next to the glacier there will be the melting zone, where the bonanza of water will inevitably favor life. •There are only two climate zones, hot and dry ...


42

Not possible TL;DR In order to ensure that an ICBM had only a 5% chance of surviving for 20 minutes in space, you need to launch at least 5 orders of magnitude more mass into space than has been launched since Sputnik. This is not economically feasible, so Kessler syndrome cannot protect you from ICBMs. A note on ICBMs First we have to define what an ...


41

How would this difference affect Earth's overall chemistry? Not much (but see below). Here's why: Let's start with some background The core–mantle differentiation event was the melting event which caused separation of the rocky mantle and the metallic core. It separated earth into two phases (in the chemical sense): Metal, which is dense so it sank to ...


40

The various Celtic cultures fit pretty much all of your Orc needs. More specifically the Gallic tribes which had mostly been dispersed/assimilated by the 3-5th century CE under Roman rule. ✓ Big and value strength: See Brennus above. Just look at that mustache. ✓ Their society is tribal, with a war chief: The general social structure was tribal, led by a ...


39

Barnacles. Barnacles make glue and stick themselves to substrate. It is serious glue. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/researchers-develop-groundbreaking-process-to-study-barnacle-glue-could-save-navy-millions-300907760.html These small but mighty crustaceans create a cement-like adhesive layer that is difficult to remove once applied. The adhesive ...


37

Cure for cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease These three are the big natural killers. Cheap, clean, ubiquitous and plentiful energy sources Air pollution is the biggest non-natural killer. The biggest source of air pollution is the burning of fossil fuels and biomass. If for instance Polywell nuclear fusion turns out to work, then we can remove ...


37

The bush plane STOL records are your friend here. No additional external technology or infrastructure, just carefully designed STOL light aircraft. The current record for landing is 9ft5in (2.87m) and this sort of thing is a bush pilot speciality. Your world is going to have something similar, but they're going to be the tower-top pilots specialising in ...


35

Ok, so this is slightly on a tangent ( but I like it and you might too) What if you had a tree (not a rock), which rather than bark which grows by adding a new concentric layer of bark each year, instead it slowly grows around the tree. Like myelin does on nerve cells. The trailing edge slowly forms into wood over time. The DuckBark™ Tree has bark with an ...


33

Less land It's actually pretty easy. There are two ways to make an ocean less salty. The first way is to remove salt, and the second is to add fresh water, both of which are possible, but takes a lot of effort and won't really occur naturally. But the better question is, what makes an ocean salty in the first place and can we prevent that from happening? ...


28

While there are already some good answers, it should be noted that for exampled Germany, South Korea and Japan are not economic superpowers, but mere great powers. (Germany and Japan lost political power for historical reasons and held back) I think a better example could be the European Union. definitely a large economic power politically weak due to ...


27

Limit the availability of raw materials, in particular fossil fuels and iron. Without fossil fuels you are limited to wood burning as a power source which is far less energy dense and a much more finite supply. Without iron it's much harder to make much of the earlier engineering feats. This means you don't get useful steam engines or railways which were ...


27

You'd barely notice a difference ... mainly because iron is so incomprehensively common. Iron is about 1000 times as common as copper and 20,000 times as common as tin in the Earth's crust. SEE: https://periodictable.com/Properties/A/CrustAbundance.v.html So, even with 10-1000 times less of it, iron/steal would still be easy to make in significant amounts. ...


25

Meet the red panda, Ailurus fulgens. A red panda at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photograph by Greg Hume, available on Wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The red panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and eats mostly bamboo. Red pandas belong to the family Ailuridae, in the superfamily Musteloidea, making them close ...


25

War IS the tribe's business: In ancient times, everyone knew how to fight if they could afford weapons. The standing army part is the hard one to swallow, as labor is wasted if you're just standing around. Unless standing around as an army is the point. The best way to justify tribal people having a standing army is if the business of your tribe is warfare. ...


24

It's a terrible defensive structure. Once you're close enough to the walls, you've eliminated flanking fire coming from the towers because the walls themselves block line of sight. This would allow anyone getting close to the wall to be safe from attack (except from directly above), giving them plenty of time to muck around to breach. Were they willing to ...


24

It's even more simple* than a wind-tunnel: simply set up the runway as a steep ramp on top of the building. The aircraft land into the wind, and the uphill nature of the runway will rapidly kill speed. Then when taking off, doing so downhill into the wind will allow a rapid gain in speed. So, ideally a landing building would have a runway like a hat, a ...


23

With the advent of genetic engineering First a bit of background... Two of each "kind" Young Earth Creationists concede that — no — Noah did not bring two of each species because it is simply not physically possible to squeeze that many animals into a ship of the dimensions given in the bible. Instead Noah brought two of each "kind", where a "kind" is a ...


23

Too complicated If something goes wrong, it would be difficult to abort. Just imagine a plane trying to land and the fan breaking. The pilot also then needs to watch two walls and a roof as well as the ground so a crosswind while trying to enter the wind tunnel could be quite catastrophic. Easiest solution is a landing cable like what is used on aircraft ...


22

Both Iceland and Easter Island were deforested by people who settled there. The Vikings let their farm animals loose and they probably used a fair bit of wood for keeping warm, boats, huts and metallurgy. The combination left the Island deforested. What happened on Easter Island is less clear but similar result. Whether such an outcome is likely over ...


22

The limit will be when poop is high enough that people cannot dig through it to get to food. They can dump poop into ocean or rivers, but that leads us to second limit: They eat away dry land (till they can no longer dig from the bottom), so time to starvation depends on size of the continent you are on. Technology could help dig deeper, or move to a ...


22

Yes it could The Wikipedia article on the subject is quite detailed and offers the exact answer to your question. The L4 and L5 points are stable provided that the mass of the primary body (e.g. the Earth) is at least 25 times the mass of the secondary body (e.g. the Moon). The Earth is over 81 times the mass of the Moon (the Moon is 1.23% of the mass of ...


21

Tolkien's Orcs were based on the Mongol conquests. So, to keep his tradition, I'd choose the Scythians (9th century BC-4th century AD) Scythian women trained with the bow and they fought along men, to the point they are one of the sources for the legends of the Amazons. Their women might have even worn trousers while riding according to some burial sites. ...


20

Here's a first-order approximation based on a fundamental limit: diffraction and angular resolution. How far someone can see of course depends on the size of the object they're looking at, because the main limitation we have is one of angular size. The issue comes down to something called the Rayleigh criterion, which is a limitation telescopes have to deal ...


19

You're positing a world that has no surface plants. That's... implausible. There are plants out there that can manage climatic extremes far worse than anything humans could live through. Plants actively thrive in concentrations of CO2 that humans would find lethal. You might easily have a massive die-off as climate change modified local conditions, but ...


17

No, it’s not within our power to kill all the deep sea fish within a year. Vertebrates that we kill higher up in the ocean will just fall to the sea bed and become food for them. And even if we could stop any organic matter from falling to the ocean floor, some vertebrates would still survive around geothermal vents.


16

That is far too advanced to expect technology to remain static for long. Technology advances without new resources - new resources certainly shape how technology advances, but better methods and processes develop using the same resource constraints. Coal is not the cause of industrialization, so eliminating it will not prevent advancement. This may be ...


16

They already are. And that includes us humans. You just can't see it. Our patterns are called Blaschko's lines. They exist because when we are embryos, the cells that will form our skin migrate in waves to where they will be. In almost every human the cells are all genetically identical, but if some of the first cells mutate, or in the case of chimeric ...


16

This is the partially-dried mucus of a species of giant snail. As snails (and, indeed, most other gastropods) travel, they exude a polymer gel mucus, which serves as a protective layer between the animal and the surface it travels. This gel ("snail slime") has qualities of both adhesives and lubricants. Your oversized snails require a thicker ...


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