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57 votes
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Are stainless steel railway tracks worth it?

Stainless steel is about four to five times more expensive than ordinary steel. This means that even in a perfect world where companies or States could plan for a time horizon of a century or more for ...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 92.2k
54 votes

Could a Black Market exist in a cashless society (digital currency)?

Yes What is the oldest Profession in the world? Providing sexual favors for resources. Ah - but I hear you ask: All the local prostitutes in my area charge an hourly rate and for Cash. Penguins - ...
TheDemonLord's user avatar
  • 30.3k
48 votes
Accepted

Why machine worlds?

Because there are some products that require a planet-sized facility to make. This isn't even that absurd of an idea. Faster-than-light travel and other far-future technology might rely on forms of ...
parasoup's user avatar
  • 5,171
45 votes

A world where some currency loses value when handled would have a deflationary economy. What would the consequences to society be?

It's not going to have any real effect really. It will just mean that the "thrupeny" coin will be treated as tuppence in all transactions regardless of its current colour. If you offer a ...
Pelinore's user avatar
  • 9,673
30 votes

Could a Black Market exist in a cashless society (digital currency)?

Disguise your transactions. You don't have to use fiat currency. You can use other valuable commodities. However, that doesn't mean you can't use "real money." You just have to be careful ...
In Hoc Signo's user avatar
  • 11.3k
26 votes
Accepted

What makes small-scale private star-harvesting profitable?

Small-scale harvesting is more art than science. Your flow of PhoNE is variable and difficult to predict. It changes constantly. Large-scale operations just throw a huge "net" and sell ...
John's user avatar
  • 81.9k
26 votes

What would be the cheapest way to demolish large amounts of buildings when damage to the surrounding area isn't a concern?

You Ignore the Buildings Almost Entirely OP says in a comment that the goal is to extract steel and copper. To do that, you leave the buildings standing, and focus on pretty much everything else. Sky ...
codeMonkey's user avatar
  • 11.1k
26 votes

A world where some currency loses value when handled would have a deflationary economy. What would the consequences to society be?

The Great Recoinage Since you're imagining a place like 17th century London, let's take a look at what actually happened in 17th century London for our answer! The year is 1696. Most of the coins in ...
elemtilas's user avatar
  • 40.8k
25 votes

Are stainless steel railway tracks worth it?

Stainless steel is TERRIBLE for train tracks. Especially if you are trying to use the most rust resistant grades. Expensive to produce Difficult to fabricate Stainless is difficult to machine compared ...
DKNguyen's user avatar
  • 11.1k
25 votes

Why machine worlds?

Economies of scale There's a huge advantage to having lots of things in one place. If you can have the widget factory and the wotsit factory right next to the factory that turns widgets and wotsits ...
N. Virgo's user avatar
  • 6,125
22 votes

Could a Black Market exist in a cashless society (digital currency)?

gift cards, or paper checks A gift card or paper cheque will create a trail at the end points, but not necessarily in the middle. For example: Person A buys 4 gift cards for ☼5 each. Person A then ...
Chronocidal's user avatar
  • 15.5k
21 votes

What goods yield the best profit for time-travel arbitrage?

1-to-1 exchange salt for gold seems to be a legend. You probably have in mind Ghana Empire. Even if it worked, how good are you in local dialects? They would just kill you. 1000kg of gold is probably ...
D'Monlord's user avatar
  • 2,796
19 votes

How would perpetual motion technology (and "free" energy) affect poverty?

Cynically, it will likely not affect them at all at this stage of the technology. At least based on the standards of living today. Profits Over People While large and cumbersome, there is still the ...
Haylen's user avatar
  • 5,623
17 votes

What Are the Pitfalls of Using Diamonds as Currency?

Hard to Standardize Gold can be cut into standard weight chunks known as coins. These can be given stamped shapes to minimize the chance of imposture. Furthermore, gold is gold. Some gold is not ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 29.1k
17 votes

Why machine worlds?

Pollution. Even when, as in our case life is gathered on a single planet, gathering, processing and using resources to produce heavy-goods is a dirty business for a single country. Then there's all ...
Escaped dental patient.'s user avatar
16 votes

How would the existence of sapient "Pet Rocks" affect the economy of a medieval kingdom?

Huge and far reaching impacts First, it stands to reason that pretty much everyone will have one of these (except for children too young for speaking). Trying to keep it restricted to a small group ...
Mathaddict's user avatar
  • 14.3k
15 votes

Why machine worlds?

Anything you can do on a planet, you can do better in a Dyson swarm, as long as you have the materials. If you are shipping materials in, then this is even less of an issue. Unless... The one thing ...
Robert Rapplean's user avatar
15 votes

Why machine worlds?

Space wants to kill you I guess it's a lack of experience -- who here has ever lived in space? -- so I'll put the reminder here: space wants to kill you. Space is extremely inimical to life: no ...
Matthieu M.'s user avatar
  • 3,383
15 votes

What goods yield the best profit for time-travel arbitrage?

Lost artworks in Germany during World War II I will take 1000 kg of materials including scientific journals and historical records of WW II and sell to past Germany. For a country engaged in total war,...
peacock59's user avatar
  • 357
15 votes

Prince Rupert's Drop Armor: How Expensive?

Prince Rupert's Drops are an early form of toughened or tempered glass. Making toughened glass scale armour might involve making the scales from glass and quenching them in water, before re-melting ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
  • 63.5k
14 votes

What would be the cheapest way to demolish large amounts of buildings when damage to the surrounding area isn't a concern?

Frame challenge: they wouldn't go around demolishing buildings. It makes no sense to demolish buildings to gather resources. Majority of mass is in concrete which is useless. You would never finance ...
Negdo's user avatar
  • 2,323
14 votes

What goods yield the best profit for time-travel arbitrage?

Aluminum could be a good choice. Prior to 1856 aluminum was more expensive than gold. Current prices are on an upward trend, but if you can hit two points back in time, you could stop in 1930 to pick ...
Michael Richardson's user avatar
12 votes

How would the existence of sapient "Pet Rocks" affect the economy of a medieval kingdom?

The rocks are everything from self contained secure messaging (only say this to Bob) to account handlers, assuming their memories are good enough, From security cameras, to secret recording devices. ...
Separatrix's user avatar
  • 118k
12 votes

Why machine worlds?

Hmm... I find that my suspension of disbelief works quite well with this explanation: It's just a naturally-occurring congregation of similar services into one spot. Like, ages ago it wasn't a machine-...
Vilx-'s user avatar
  • 1,794
12 votes

Could a Black Market exist in a cashless society (digital currency)?

could the Mafia or the Mob find another way to operate clandestinely? Yes, they can use something else in place of the official money. There are many possibilities. Precious metals and jewelry come ...
ihaveideas's user avatar
  • 5,218
11 votes

What Are the Pitfalls of Using Diamonds as Currency?

Benefit vs Cost Any form of currency can be destroyed, stolen, lost, counterfeited, etc. Diamonds are no exception. Any form of currency, in order to be useful, has to be plentiful enough to smooth ...
elemtilas's user avatar
  • 40.8k
11 votes

How would perpetual motion technology (and "free" energy) affect poverty?

Your teleportation machines are expensive to build. They may be able to be used to generate 'free' energy, as part of a machine that generates a net surplus of energy as a consequence of its ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
  • 63.5k
10 votes

How would perpetual motion technology (and "free" energy) affect poverty?

Solar power is "free," too, in that way. It didn't slash energy bills for consumers. Where your teleport device will matter is not energy supply but transportation/commute. Your impoverished ...
o.m.'s user avatar
  • 117k
10 votes

What makes small-scale private star-harvesting profitable?

Space is dangerous, as we all know. And space around big stars, space that's full of the stellar wind that contains Phone, is extra dangerous. So if you're a big corporation harvesting Phone with ...
Cadence's user avatar
  • 38.5k
10 votes

Utopia city, a place with no poverty

Cheating the statistics is pretty easy, if you know how to play with them. Example: if you have a polluting industry in city A which causes an increase of cancer among the inhabitants if A, you can ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 292k

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