Hot answers tagged

108

Distances between Medieval towns varied quite widely, as did the population and size. I think the estimate, and this is a low estimate, for England was that there were over 3,000 deserted Medieval villages that they hadn't discovered. Now, there are also going to be communities in between smaller than your 400 person population--groupings of families and ...


77

One word: fire. Cooking and metalworking are the first two things that pop into my mind that are made easier, if not possible, on land. While you could argue that neither is necessary for an aquatic species, neither is necessary for terrestrial species either, but have certainly benefited the human race.


77

During WWII the city of Alexandria, in Egypt, was under menace of being bombed by the German bombers. Since it was known that the bombing would have taken place overnight, it was decided to build in the desert an exact replica of Alexandria's light pattern, and enforce a strict curfew in the real city. When the German bombers spotted the city lights, they ...


76

Society as we know it certainly could NOT function if this were the case. A couple of issues that immediately occurred to me, even more fundamental than retention of property (and retention of property is huge!): Children would be extremely dangerous to be around! Adults are significantly stronger than children. Imagine if a mother and her one-year-old ...


74

In order to get water up to the top of a building, you can either carry it manually, or you can pump it. Pumps don't have to run on electricity. Wind-powered pumps use a windmill to power the pump, and have been used since at least the 1500s (and likely much earlier) for irrigation and other purposes. Other options like steam power, diesel, or water wheels ...


73

The short answer is trade. The larger answer is that the act of trading develops and requires a range of secondary and tertiary activities which are themselves economically significant. Consider, the trader needs a place to exchange money, bed down for the night, feed his caravan and all the men who ride with him (or the ships crew if a port). Cargos need ...


66

Town of Orangey cinnamon peppermint. Ya no joke. Spiders hunt in part by scent (apparently sweaty socks are a treat for them) and there are a few scents that repulse them pretty heavily, and as an added bonus...those scents actually smell decent to us. Surround the town walls with a ring of peppermint plants and wet down the walls with an orange cinnamon ...


66

Rock and clay don't burn well, leaving you with a lot of dressed stone lying around to say there was once a city here. Fire from above implies volcanoes, as we learned from Pompeii, that's actually a great way to preserve a city so that 4000 years later we know exactly what happened, down to what specific individuals were doing when it hit, so that's out. ...


66

I'd advise against this approach. Your character has very low chance of success. When a dogma is central to a person's religious identity, it will be believed until there is some direct personal reason to stop believing it. As a real world example of the effect of religious identity, many religious movements believing in creationism reject evolution decades ...


64

The Original In Venice, the streets are made of water; gondolas carry people from point to point, and walkways stretching over the water allow foot traffic. The buildings in Venice are set on a wooden foundation, sunk in sandy islands; without access to oxygen, the submerged wood is kept fresh, and eventually petrifies. The city is, quite literally, built ...


61

It’s not possible to the extent you’re hoping for. Most modern urban areas have a fairly consistent pattern in which buildings are broken up into blocks of various dimensions and separated by roads. Within a particular block many buildings are divided by small alleys (often to accommodate fire escapes). In my experience in Manhattan, these tend to be ...


59

Granite is one of the most durable types of rock. As you walk across a granite staircase, the electromagnetic fields in your shoes are repelled by the electrons in the outer layers of the outermost atoms in the granite slab. Occasionally, a few granite atoms are kicked loose in the interactions. Over the centuries, this builds the grooves you see in old ...


58

Heights would not be dangerous Because there is little risk of injury from falling, the creatures would not suffer from vertigo. Our skyscrapers have walls around them to stop people from falling. Non-structural guards would not be required. Birds quite happily perch in locations that would be terrifying for a human. A pigeon will sit on the windowsill of ...


55

I'm going to go with underground shelters being a major part of defense, like bomb shelters. Buildings would be made of thick stone. It mainly sounds like they would be a problem in the spring. So I don't know if underground only living would be worth it, but people might move most of their belongings down into the shelters toward the end of winter, ...


54

The oldest pump in historical records is the force pump. The book that first describes it was written between 15 and 30 B.C/B.C.E. This is the Archimedes's screw, which is one of my favorite ancient machines. It was used for irrigation. These could be arranged within a building's staircases. And then there is always the classical bucketwheel. All of the ...


54

I actually think large cities could function but they would be very different to ours. Your house would be near a cluster of sleeping rooms and would have a password entry since keys are not going to work. Clusters of sleeping rooms are at least 5 miles apart and probably need some excellent public transit options. That is probably the hardest part of ...


52

Vaccination Just have regular vaccination programs against a range of different diseases. Include this drug in amongst the vaccinations and no-one will be any wiser. When people start dropping dead from drug withdrawal that will only reinforce the fact that these vaccinations are absolutely vital for everyone. Weekly would be a bit frequent for this so you ...


52

How about a catastrophic flood? Have the city built on a large river. A landslide further up blocks the river and causes an enormous lake to form (also cutting off water supply to the city causing hardship for the inhabitants). When the dam fails...it really fails and a wall of water rushes down the valley wiping out the city and thoroughly destroying it, ...


49

I would actually use... cement, because your premise is wrong: On lifeless planets there is no organic materials such as limestone because there was never any life. Limestone is not an organic material (I guess the right word would be an "organic compound"). Limestone is just calcium carbonate. And there's no reason why there couldn't be sedimentary ...


47

During the roman empire they didn't know modern cement, but they built "small thingy" like the Pantheon by using pozzolan, which is basically volcanic ash. That would be a good material to use.


46

Yes. Modern aircraft carriers have crews of around 5,000. It's even easier if you're supporting one fifth that many people and don't have to worry about making your building float or move at 35mph. The real challenges are social/psychological. People tend to get stir crazy when kept in inside for long periods of time. Close quarters also makes it harder ...


45

There are a number of basic reasons the (vast) majority of people would choose to stay. There are a couple of other "flavor" reasons that you could optionally add to change "majority" to "practically everyone". Standard Reasons to Stay Social: Friends, family, and acquaintances are important to most people. These bonds become even more important when ...


45

Zero seconds. Sorry :) The problem is the word "All" in your question. You can cut the power, cut the phone lines, cut the fibre. Some people on the town are still going to have satellite uplinks and private generators. You then also need to cut off all mobile phone networks and prevent anyone from hovering an air mast over the town. The internet was ...


43

TL;DR: In a hard fiction setting, hovering cities are a bad idea. Too much cost for too little benefit. Reasoning: Hovering cities are something really really hard to pull off without some extreme hand-waving. Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of floating cities. In fact, on my works (I'm an RPG writer), I have several of them. Magically floating, of ...


43

I have much academic experience with some of this, especially the second part of your question. I'll address a few different sides of things. The most drastic way I can think of that could ostensibly be caused by some natural occurrence would be a low altitude meteoric air burst similar to the Tunguska event. Such an event would cause a lot of surface ...


42

Reverse osmosis. from Aristotle, Meteorilogica. There is more evidence to prove that saltness is due to the admixture of some substance, besides that which we have adduced. Make a vessel of wax and put it in the sea, fastening its mouth in such a way as to prevent any water getting in. Then the water that percolates through the wax sides of the ...


41

magic self-repairing materials are not an option over this timescale. I know you said this, but I'm assuming you're talking about stuff like self-repairing nanomachines. But there's an alternative, very non-magical answer to this question that's also self-repairing: Plants. It would require genetic engineering, but is still something I think would be ...


41

"Better the devil you know ..." Yes, conditions are awful. But they can obviously survive there. They know how to survive, how to get halfway drinkable water, how to get edible food. They are to throw all this away for the hope that it will be better elsewhere? Friends and Family Related to the previous point, they have social networks. Who will look ...


41

Lack of critical resources Going back through history Mega City used to not be the only city. It was a trade city located in a very strategic location where a lot of trade routes passed through. Normally cities grow and die with various civilizations and empires, but that did not happen with Mega City. It manage to not only survive but kept growing and ...


39

1: Tent city. http://ridgelineimages.com/musings/karasawa-tent-city/ These tents are four feet high, if that. The people of your city are from a culture of mobile pastoralists in a harsh climate. For hundreds of years they used small, wind resistant tents like this. When they settled they continued to live as their ancestors had - outside most of the ...


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