The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.
88

It really wouldn't take much at all. Consider all of the reasons that African slaves were considered subhuman. This literally ranged in reason from the size and shape of their cranium to the fact that some people interpreted the bible to say that the Mark of Cain was black skin. Many treated slaves as little more than draft animals (and even saw raping ...


71

Is this a realistic way to colonize and explore the universe? No. Apart from problems with generational ships, which you'll find discussed on Worldbuilding SE in other questions, there is a fundamental flaw in the reasoning: they get to work making the planet livable for the people who want to have a sky over their head The people you have described ...


63

The Romans, or rather the Greeks, because in Roman times the vast majority of mariners were Greek, and possibly Phoenician, could have crossed the Atlantic. Technically. The classical world had extensive long distance maritime trade; ships went from Egypt to India and back routinely. They also had ships larger that the ships used by Columbus. They had lateen ...


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

Rockets Rockets are the fastest means of acceleration we have but it's just not efficient but for a stargate, this isn't a problem as you can open the gate to refuel. You effectively build the stargate into a ship and use the gate to refuel and resupply. Crew can come and go as wanted. As tech improves, you bring it through the gate and upgrade the ship ...


55

The Asteroid belt. It has similar requirements for life-support systems as the moon. With the additional need perhaps for some areas with simulated gravity. It is next closest in terms of energy required to get to and from the orbits. It is still close enough to the sun that collecting solar energy is workable (the farthest out we have used solar panels is ...


54

Slow being a little less than half the speed of light, thanks to getting a very large boost as they start their journey. Slow down there! literally. At that speed it's not really a generation ship since you can get to many other stars within the original crews lifetime. And there are hazards to going that fast. Lets assume the ship is, say, 10X 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

Don't mention it to anyone. Terra Australis was only imagined by Ptolemy because Aristotle argued there must be something there. If no one would talk or chart this magic land no one would go there to prove it's existence. To make things even funnier Cook (who proved New Zealand is not that bigger continent) is one of three people who rediscovered ...


37

10 million years is a geologic-level time scale - so if you truly want a structure to last the ages, then we're going to need some help...specifically, from geology itself. First, let's consider just how long 10 Ma really is: So we need something that will last approximately three Epochs...wow, this is going to be epic! As a matter of fact, this is beyond ...


37

What plants to eat and what to leave? Better use the UNIVERSAL EDIBILITY TEST: Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time. Separate the plants into its basic components — leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers. Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible. Do not eat ...


36

My choices: Ganymede and Callisto (and maybe Titan) This is perhaps a bit of a buzzkill, but I honestly would not recommend colonizing much in the solar system besides the Moon and Mars. Here's why I would take a lot of bodies off the table: Mercury - Too hot on its sunny side for colonization (up to 700K) and too cold on its dark side (down to 100K). ...


31

it's either because the have higher standards, or because they have a low estimation of us. High standards You can't expect us to treat an animal that can't even run a simple 2M lines computer program in its head as an intelligent being alternately, Look! some of them are starving and others are eating a second lunch! Disgusting animals! Low ...


31

Assuming those onboard are smart enough to have gathered information concerning the planet’s chemical and biological make-up to confirm that habitation thereupon is not essentially different from habitation on Earth beside the two aforementioned problems: Solution 1: Drop chunks of scrap metal large enough to survive atmospheric entry, but not large enough ...


29

Note: none of these methods are foolproof. Try a little of anything you eat before eating a lot of it. Plants Avoid leaves and stems. It seems that these are not only typically inedible in general, but there is a laundry list of plants whose have roots or fruits that are edible, but with toxic stems and leaves. This is because generally they want to ...


29

The Romans did not conquer all the lands that they could have. As regards Ireland, for example: http://www.historyireland.com/pre-norman-history/hibernia-romana-ireland-the-roman-empire/ The evidence against an invasion is quite strong: no ancient source known specifically mentions one. But if there was no invasion or if there was an unsuccessful ...


22

Cockroaches don't live up to their reputation. The domestic cockroach that seems so hard to kill is as dependent on our warm comfortable environment as we are. If you want to clear an infestation in a cold climate, just leave the heating off, the windows open, and go away for a couple of weeks. The cold will kill them all off. Locusts on the other hand do ...


21

I believe what you are looking for are river valleys. Many, if not all major ancient civilizations who settled down to permanent settlements could only do so because they were able to learn agricultural techniques and they needed fertile land to do so. Look to the Egyptians and the Nile, as well as the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia. There are many more ...


21

The amount of resources expended to determine the habitability of a new planet is inversely proportional to the number of gates/planets they have access to. If there are thousands of options then the criteria for exclusion will be low, but if there are only 4-5 options, then they will be very thorough in evaluating each planet, especially if they have ...


21

The answer has already been explored in fiction, and is quite solidly "Yes". In Olaf Stapeldon's "Last and First Men", the Martians invade the Earth due to a gradual environmental catastrophe on Mars. In form, individual Martians are like virus particles, and only acquire intelligence as they gather together in larger and larger groups. Since they gain ...


21

Absolutely...Kind of... When France "colonized" the new world, within three years they claimed they had colonized almost a third of modern america, but in reality very few settlers were there for such a large area. Now when we take into account that alien colonization while likely be system wide instead of continent wide, we will be the squirrels living in ...


20

Some other reasons: Wealthy families (or tribes or religious sects) seek to establish places where they can be "free" of Earth's world government. (a la New England, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.) Earth's world government seeks to permanently exile particularly rich or admired people, without seeming to kill or imprison them. (a la "Australia".) If space ...


20

Venus but not the surface. In some ways Venus is much better than Mars for a colonization target. It has better gravity for humans (.9G vs .38G for Mars). It is closer than Mars(40 million Km vs 55 million Km). At 50 km above the surface the temp is 0-50 C and the atmospheric pressure is the same as Earth's(no need for pressurized suits, no explosive ...


20

A million years is a VERY long time. Mountains wear down over millions of years. The oldest structures we made is in the 5-8000 year old that is still standing. Stonehenge is about 5000 years old. The pyramids start about 4500 years ago. Here is a list of oldest buildings as we know them. The oldest currently is less than 7000 years old. Stone is ...


20

Is this a realistic way to colonize and explore the universe? Sure it is, this is the same process used by Polynesians to colonise the Pacific Islands. They had boats with everything they would need and would find a place, build. Then a few generations later when population pressure mounts they would split and some would go looking for another Island group....


19

Reality check won't be kind to this idea. The short version is that your planet killer requires handwavium and lots of it. the Earth is taken over and literally eaten by a race of giant alien beings who use mass-energy conversions to power themselves (These guys are as big as the sun, body structure of StarCraft Leviathans, sentient) First things first, ...


18

Because the dome is impermeable; rock isn't. Or more accurately, the ground is not impermeable. Cracks run this way and that, soil lets gases seep through it, and it all shifts and cracks anew frequently (see: earthquakes). Further, the rocks themselves could pose hazards for those living there, everything from dust getting into the electronics and wreaking ...


18

Let's listen to the head of the colonization movement, who happens to give a speech about this topic right now: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you about the importance of colonization. As you all know, there was short contact to an alien species, but we know next to nothing about those aliens. So who tells us ...


18

There's a couple of upsides, plus one obvious large downside. First, planets are much more robust than space stations. A full ecology has a lot of depth, layers and layers of life and interactions. That depth allows it to absorb disasters and keep ticking - it doesn't negate the bad effects, but it means they are less likely to wipe you out. A disease ...


18

Roughly $1\times10^{20}$ people. Take the solar output of the sun, $4\times10^{26} \text{W}$, divide by watts per person, $1\times10^{6} \text{W}$, and factor in the solar efficiency. Check this against the volume of the solar system, $3.82\times10^{29} \text{km}^3$, to make sure that everyone has enough room, which they do. But what about the usable ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible