New answers tagged

0

Of course your rabies plague wouldn't wipe out half the European population in three short years. You yourself said rabies has been around "all the way back to 2000 BC". If rabies could have wiped half of anything in three - or 300 or 3,000 - years, there would never have been an AD… we'd have been exterminated long before BC ran out.


2

It would be as virulent as it is today. By that I mean that the spread rate would be proportional to human population. The main issue would be spreading. We could assume that each household had a dog that could catch rabies. The problem is how to spread it. The dogs were expected to be aggressive and bite everyone. They were released from chain for the night ...


2

A rabid dog is something that a good wall can deal with. Or a well-thrown rock. Not to mention that the danger was obvious. Fleas were a lot harder to exterminate, even if you realized that they were the problem. (Note that exterminating rats is also somewhat harder AND leads to fleas leaping to humans as new habitat. People have learned that you deal ...


2

If you preserve the asymmetry of travel, with more people travling from Europe to the Americas than the other way, the problem persists. The incubation period for disesases is shorter than the time to cross the Atlantic. Healthy carriers are traveling from Europe to America. Europeans who contract illnesses in the Americas: Die in America, so do not spread ...


3

does having plagues of your own make you hardened against plagues from a different continent? Not all of them. Possibly some (don't count on it). That's a bit like asking whether having risked being maimed by lions offers any protection against being maimed by leopards or crocodiles. Obviously it does not. There is a very tiny possibility that the pathogen ...


6

In humans, genetic resistance to disease does exist for specific diseases but not in general I have not seen any studies identifying human genes that make one more resistant to all disease in general. There are plenty of cases where a specific gene causes resistance or susceptibility to a specific disease. Lets assume that such genes appear due to a ...


2

This would be almost impossible for a few reasons. But hey, impossible makes for an interesting story, so let's work through it with a few creative stretches here and there. The Chinese were interested in tribute. It's essentially a racket. You give us horses, gold, and other wealth, as well as whatever other curiosities you have laying around, and we don't ...


1

I'm posting this as an answer instead of a comment due to its length, but I want to emphasize the point @user3757614 made above: a major factor in the die-off of Native Americans exposed to European diseases wasn't the disease itself, but lack of care for the sick. There is evidence for this. A similar situation occurred in the late 19th century: isolated ...


4

Make China aware of you The Mesoamericans stand no chance of developing reliable seafaring technology within a century. Crossing an ocean as big as the Pacific is no easy task, and you cannot just learn that without some long-term economic motivator, something lacking in the West. But you can send a message. Manned expeditions will never make it, but if you ...


1

To summarise the findings of all the answers, as I understand them: People of a local population may or may not be more resistant to a disease that's been with them for a number of centuries (the answers disagree). Any such endemic resistance would be in the form of genetic traits - like Sickle cell anemia in African people that happens to make them more ...


2

This is sort of like asking if a nation that had become resistant/immune to cholera would then be resistant/immune to small pox. There is a fairly low limit to the overall resistance an immune system can create, beyond which it develops countermeasures to specific maladies that it had encountered before. It doesn't matter how strong an immune system your ...


5

Let's talk about how a plague can wipe out a civilization. Assume a generic disease hits a generic pre-industrial village. It's not even that bad of a disease; everyone will just be knocked out for a couple weeks. It can still kill everyone in the village. Why? Because everyone gets sick at the same time. In this situation, there's nobody who can help treat ...


1

Were or weren't Native Americans killed in greater numbers to Old World diseases, measured as the mortality rate for specific diseases, then the people from the Old World with whom that disease originated? Mortality rate does not include those who were already immune and never contracted the disease during a specific outbreak. They were. By a lot. To the ...


5

Yes Yes, they would still be vulnerable. My doctor just admonished me to get this year's flu shot. I've never had one and I've never had the flu. He and I talked about the science literally because too many people think as you do. Immunity from one disease does not make you in any way immune to a disease your body hasn't encountered before. All it does is ...


9

Yes and No... It is unlikely that the Natives would have a natural herd immunity when dealing with diseases that would have evolved in such isolation, but they would still fare much better. One of the biggest reasons that the Natives lost so many people to European plagues was culture. In Europe where plagues were common, they knew to isolate the sick, burn ...


13

Yes. Immune systems aren't the only thing that needs practice dealing with outbreaks. How good one countries zoonanautic outbreaks inoculated them for an introduced outbreak from another country will be a bit hit and miss. American Cow pox could protect against european smallpox, but maybe some other disease might not be protected. Who knows exactly how the ...


26

One word: syphilis. Of which the great virulence among Europeans for the first two or three centuries after it came from the Americas shows that it doesn't matter if they had contagious diseases in general, only that they didn't have that particular disease or that class of diseases.


8

I don't think it's because it's from different continents. A completely new plague would affect all in the same way unless there is a situation like cowpox and smallpox, where people who have had one cannot contract the other in a severe form. Measles and suchlike affect populations differently only because of built up resistance. Measles has been around ...


30

does having plagues of your own make you hardened against plagues from a different continent? I would answer looking at the fresh case of Covid19. No matter where the virus hit, the local variety of infections doesn't seem to affect how well or bad the population answers. I would expect the same to apply also in this case.


0

Continue the Space Race using nuclear propulsion and establish lunar colony as exclusive economic zone. If USSR is able to build and sustain lunar colony, attracting the best and brightest people there (instead of DARPA-funded projects) and give them more autonomy than the system back on the earth allows, perhaps it could allow USSR to maintain technological ...


0

Delayed Neutrons If you're willing to modify the laws of physics, or some elements and isotopes specifically, this is an option. Criticality The difference between Bombs and Fast reactors on the one hand, and regular 'Slow' reactors on the other, is whether criticality (the number of neutrons being produced, on average, by one neutron, reaches one) is ...


0

Yes, and it's easy. Many nuclear power plants operate on controlled, sustained fission of uranium or plutonium. But that's not the only way to get power out of nuclear reactions. Radioactive materials decay and produce heat, and you can always turn a heat gradient into power (example that is commonly used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


0

Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_design . Modern "implosion" type weapons require extremely precisely timed explosive charges arranged around the core such that the shock wave converges all at once and squeezes the core to the point of fission. We have modern computers, so the technology for precise timing is there - to ...


4

It's quite plausible. There were a number of false leads in various nuclear-weapons projects during World War II. For example, the Germans calculated that the minimum critical mass for a uranium bomb was high enough that a bomb could only be delivered by train, not by airplane. The Americans calculated that a gun-type plutonium bomb was feasible, and spent ...


8

This would be a good way to go if your book wants to highlight the injustice of racism. "Jewish physics" Change something in WWII relating to the treatment of the Jews, which worsens antisemitism worldwide. As such, nuclear bomb potential is rejected by everyone (instead of just Germany) as "Jewish physics". Antisemitism never dies ...


10

Nuclear bombs were deemed irrelevant after an underfunded project produced a series of unimpressive fizzles. In real life, the Manhattan Project was absurdly well funded - to the point they used an 80 lbs solid gold sphere as a doorstop - because this was the technology that would win the war. Perhaps in your world the Manhattan Project didn't start until ...


17

You Can't Avoid the Knowledge, But You Can Avoid the Technology The run-away chain reaction of the bomb was theorized basically as soon as the idea of splitting the atom came about. It is not plausible to say "no body thought of it." However, there are significant technological challenges between "We have weapons grade Uranium" and "...


4

I'm afraid that I disagree with the majority here and am impenitent: it is entirely plausible to have a steady-state nuclear reactor generating a useful amount of energy, without developing the technology to produce nuclear weapons. Example 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1 (ran for about 4.5 minutes, was shut down in good order). Example 2: ...


0

I'd say that by the very way nuclear power works, you always pass by nuclear weapons before you reach nuclear power. Nuclear power IS a nuclear bomb, just slowed down so it takes months to release the energy instead of nano-seconds.


2

When does a dangerous physics experiment stop and nuclear bomb development begin? "What happens when we spit to atom?" Was the question on some scientists minds in the late 30s. There was interest, and interest leads to experimentation. Because we were looking for a weapon, we found one. Of course, a way of turning a square km of desert into glass ...


5

They are made not to think of it One of your supers a telepath who makes Chuckles X look like a cold reading fraud. The Mind of Minerva is literally in the head of every person on Earth, whether she wants to be or not. For the most part, she does nothing but observe and learn. She doesn't interfere, partly because she feels it isn't her place (since no-...


3

It would require an arms treaty Today, we have the ability to create all kinds of horribly devastating chemical weapons and biological weapons. We have the ability to create a weaponized viruses that are far, far more deadly than our current pandemic. Why aren't countries threatening to destroy each other with these kinds of weapons of mass destruction? ...


2

Too risky to Build... I would argue that, based on superhero scenarios, governments might be afraid to build nuclear weapons specifically BECAUSE of superheroes. Not that they would complain, but that they would be stolen by villains and used. A proliferation of powers means there are too many ways to get a hold of a bomb and too few ways to keep them safe. ...


16

If you are willing to alter physics maybe. U-235 gun-type bomb is so simple, they never tested one before dropping it on Japan. (Well, that and the pain of separating weapons grade U-235). You can make U-235 not viable by adding a few more 700 million year half-lives, 4 would drop the percentage below 0.1% U-235 - bomb making seems very unlikely in that case ...


19

You can have the weapons tech without the power tech, but the other way around, not so much. This is kind of like asking if you can invent the internal combustion engine without someone immediately figuring out Molotov cocktails. Weaponizing a fuel source is simply easier than figuring out all the mechanics of harnessing it into something controllable and ...


36

Very implausible. Nuclear fission has to occur at a controlled and steady rate in order to be used in a reactor. The natural question that would arise in the minds of scientists and engineers is "What would happen if we let fission occur as fast as possible?" and the conclusion that nuclear bombs could be built would come immediately thereafter. [...


3

If potential nuclear weapons are seen as a "silver bullet" against superheroes, then yes. In a world ruled by super powered individuals, technology and military development in particular would go differently. Why build tanks and battleships if they can easily be sabotaged or even destroyed by infiltrating or just flying straight at it enemy agents. ...


Top 50 recent answers are included