262 votes
Accepted

How does a species who cannot distinguish left from right build their cities?

Fran is a naturally subterranean boring worm-like creature. Her cilia enable her to move forward and rotate. On her homeworld, the tunnels are bored with ridges or grooves that serve as affordances ...
Thriggle's user avatar
  • 2,567
121 votes

Why would a civilization develop a taboo against a highly nutritious food that grows well in its climate?

There are many examples of this in the real world, including the religious bans on pork and shellfish, the historical avoidance of tomatoes, and counter-examples such as the laborious process to ...
arp's user avatar
  • 2,898
108 votes

What could make a remote village also have reasonably high traffic?

Consider a mountain pass. In short, you need a small village located on a major road. Possibly, your village is located near (on the only road leading to) a mountain pass. You mentioned the ...
Laetus's user avatar
  • 2,752
95 votes
Accepted

How could a language that uses a single word extremely often sustain itself?

Simple, make the language Oligosynthetic. Oligosynthetic languages are languages that have 50-200 words and simply combine words to create new concepts. For example; Let's say I want to say hell, in ...
TrEs-2b's user avatar
  • 56.2k
90 votes

How does a species who cannot distinguish left from right build their cities?

There are a few languages on earth that don't have words for relative direction. Instead of they use absolute the directions North, South, East, and West to describe the positioning of things. For ...
sphennings's user avatar
  • 21.4k
87 votes
Accepted

Why is this culture against repairing broken things?

I think firstly, what constitutes a "minor" repair is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. If I personally needed to retile a section of my roof I'd consider this quite a major endeavour, ...
Tom O'Daighre's user avatar
85 votes

Why would a civilization outfit buildings with separate portals for entering and leaving them?

The body shape of the aliens makes it difficult to pull doors open, but they can easily push doors open (or vice versa). Have you ever tried to get through a door with both hands full? The aliens' ...
o.m.'s user avatar
  • 115k
74 votes
Accepted

Warrior caste in an utopian society: what would keep them peaceful for centuries?

High levels of automation you say? Sounds like you want some metal-on-metal action. The natural evolution of video gaming, virtual reality and sporting events, MetalBowl began as American Football, ...
Joe Bloggs's user avatar
  • 66.3k
74 votes
Accepted

How would a medieval village protect themselves against dinosaurs?

Large dinosaurs are like elephants. Very strong, but the one thing they can't do is jump. Their massive body weight increases with the cube of their size, meaning that large dinosaurs are at the limit ...
SurpriseDog's user avatar
  • 3,883
73 votes

How would a mermaid jail work?

I present to you, the most feared and inescapable prison of the merfolk world: The Fishbowl There is an island in the middle of the ocean. And in the middle of this island is a massive saltwater lake, ...
Cyrus Drake's user avatar
  • 8,007
69 votes

If it wasn't maintained for hundreds of years, would the Channel Tunnel collapse?

Collapse of the tunnel isn't what would make it impassible first. The tunnel itself might well last a century or so, but if there's no electric power for as little as a few weeks the tunnel will be ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 45.9k
67 votes

Why would a civilization outfit buildings with separate portals for entering and leaving them?

Your society has a hypermartial warrior culture. The double-doors eliminate the problem of accidental rudeness and slaughter. If you were to attempt the use of a door at the same time as me, one of ...
Nij's user avatar
  • 737
66 votes
Accepted

Does a world with domestic flying creatures (eg: dragons) needs cars, planes and ships?

I believe mechanical means of transportation would still be developed. As a basis for prediction, consider the case of the horseless carriage. Why bother inventing a car when you already have horses? ...
Thriggle's user avatar
  • 2,567
66 votes

How old do surviving children need to be to keep human civilization from failing?

I'm not convinced that 18 is too old at all; in point of fact, if ALL the 'adults' left at once, society would be ruined in many different ways. What we call civilisation is really a very delicate ...
Tim B   II's user avatar
  • 54.1k
66 votes

How many people are necessary to maintain modern civilisation?

I'm going to respond to this with a framing challenge, because as it stands I think you're asking the wrong question. The issue is that the modern industrial world is a product of population DENSITY ...
Morris The Cat's user avatar
64 votes

Why would a scientifically advanced future community believe in multiple gods?

Why does Hinduism not meet your requirements? From Hinduism.SE, neither the monotheistic nor polytheistic labels properly fit Hinduism. You can read the various answers yourself; some answers say it ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 85.4k
63 votes

Only Three Books: Restarting Physics after civilization collapses

The textbook University Physics by Sears, Zemansky, Young, and Freedman is going to be far superior to Isaac Newton's work. For one thing, it's designed as a textbook for people who are not familiar ...
Brythan's user avatar
  • 25.3k
62 votes

Why would a scientifically advanced future community believe in multiple gods?

Because God or Gods are actually real. Just because some people assume in our modern world that objective proof is lacking, does not prove (or dis-prove) the existence, or lack thereof, of a God or ...
nijineko's user avatar
  • 4,388
61 votes
Accepted

Why would a crash landed generation fall back to the stone age?

This is actually easier than you think, and represents a major shortcoming of our modern civilization - specialization. First and foremost, it's safe to say that all traces of human civilization on ...
AndreiROM's user avatar
  • 34.8k
59 votes
Accepted

Why might a civilisation of robots invent organic organisms like humans or cows?

Robot philosophers and cy-chologists have long wrestled with the great question: what is the mind? The great computer scientist Desréseaux famously said: "Computo, ergo sum." And ever since ...
skeep's user avatar
  • 2,065
57 votes
Accepted

How do you tell time on a world with 9-year days?

Terrain objects I imagine these nomads are following the same paths every year as they perpetually circle the planet. In that case, since there are no seasons or months, each group's time cycle would ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 85.4k
52 votes
Accepted

How far could civilisation develop within one lifetime - starting from nothing?

Not particularly far... The biggest problem was already mentioned, but not in particular detail: Humans did not only domesticate animals, but also plants. Wheat, rye, etc. as we know them are the ...
AuronTLG's user avatar
  • 1,721
51 votes

How could a language that uses a single word extremely often sustain itself?

No kurwa Lower classes often have a curse word that can mean anything from agreement to joy to disagreement. In Polish, one word ("kurwa") can also mean, with small modifiers, drunk, angry, thrown ...
Mołot's user avatar
  • 33.3k
51 votes

Only Three Books: Restarting Chemistry after civilization collapses

I don't know exactly about the other two, but one would be the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. This is a monster of a book is ~2600 pages of very small type, weighing about 8.5 pounds, listing ...
Josh King's user avatar
  • 24.9k
49 votes

If dinosaurs had a civilization, how primitive must it have been to leave no trace in the present?

Are there likely to be some traces? Some tools? Some evidence of culture and burial rites? Maybe, and maybe not. Depends upon where the intelligent dinos lives, and what happened to that rather small ...
user535733's user avatar
  • 28.9k
49 votes

How do people live in bunkers & not go crazy with boredom?

In villages (70 years before, with no electricity, no petrol, no machines) men went to fields (with bulls and plough) before sunrise and worked till noon. In the afternoon, men gathered in a common ...
imtaar's user avatar
  • 5,661
48 votes

Why would a civilization outfit buildings with separate portals for entering and leaving them?

Feng Shui! In the traditional Chinese Architecture: The main gateway entrance into the courtyard house had two red doors; it was located on the eastern part of the south side conforming to the ...
Matthieu M.'s user avatar
  • 3,173
47 votes

How long would a single metropolis last if all other signs of human civilization vanish?

Not very long A Metropolis consists of a lot of people in a small area. Unless we're talking about a science-fiction high-tech metropolis, they don't produce their own food, and they don't produce ...
Rob Watts's user avatar
  • 19.9k
47 votes

How advanced can a civilization get without zero?

I think the question is not so much what we can do without zero, but how zero could remain undiscovered when humans begin to advance. One of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite contemporary ...
Tim B   II's user avatar
  • 54.1k

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