Hot answers tagged

122

Giant coiled spring. It would uncoil itself and drive the chain. It would provide loads of power on demand. Storing that kind of energy as a coiled spring is dangerous, but I see that as a positive thing for your scenario.


121

Get out I mean, literally. As in "get out of the universe". The heat death of our universe is by definition not a survivable event. That's the bad news. The good news is that it takes a very, very long time to happen. So a technological society has time to develop technological solutions to the problem. Some things that might work are: Cross over ...


111

You could use your invention to power computer hardware to "mine" a cryptocurrency like bitcoin. "Proof of work" cryptocurrencies like bitcoin deliberately waste enormous amounts of energy generating redundant cryptographic hashes. Today, most cryptocurrency mining happens in places with cheap electricity, because the limiting economic factor is the cost of ...


93

No. By definition the heat death is the state where you could no longer do anything. Any actions you do before it only makes it come sooner. Best strategy: Sit still, do absolutely nothing. (I kinda like this strategy) For high-tech civilizations I recommend you put out the stars. They produce entropy really fast. In general, stop things from changing. ...


86

Batteries can be made quite small today, and batteries can be recharged wirelessly by magnetic resonance. So feasibly, the battery could be implanted in the temple near the eye and be recharged by putting a charger against the temple. It might also be possible to charge the eye simply with the light that enters it. If the battery is running low, just stare ...


76

Laser beams have straight trajectories in anything other than totally unreasonable gravitational fields (where you won't be using bullets, that for sure). This makes them very easy to aim. Lasers beams propagate at the speed of light. This will be substantially faster than any projectile weapon, and a reasonable amount faster than any particle beam, too. You ...


74

Hard physics answer I think the question is fundamentally ill-posed. As long as there are humans alive somewhere, the universe is millions to the power of millions of years away from the "heat death" (which is not at all an agreed-upon or well-understood thing). The heat death (if we assume it is well-defined) is definitely not "when the last star fades ...


70

They can used for underground power and communication lines, as a replacement for overhead lines. The reason why overhead lines are still prevalent in America is due to the initial cost of installing the lines underground and the sheer number of lines needed for the sparse rural areas covering most of the US. However, if the power companies had available ...


69

One option is to use stirling engines. They work just as well on cold as on heat. Or rather, they work on a temperature gradient. One of these toys will work if you place it on a cup of hot water or on an ice cube. You might also look at thermal electric generators, or TEG. These create a small amount of electric power from a heat gradient, and so also ...


66

Don't Look for Energy - Go for Infrastructure The problem with freezing powers is that they actively suck energy out of wherever they are used. The movement of the energy itself could be useful, except that it's simply magic'd away to nothingness, which is not very helpful. However, the queen's magic is also capable of very quickly building robust ...


65

It is technically possible to burn carbon dioxide, but not in a practical way. The reason burning carbon produces energy is that the total potential energy of carbon and oxygen is minimized by the CO2 configuration. Splitting them up into carbon and oxygen again requires an addition of energy. Therefore, in order to burn carbon dioxide, you need to find ...


58

Well, at best you're depositing in the planet (or the powdered remnants thereof) energy equal to its gravitational binding energy. According to Wikipedia, the one true source of truth, the gravitational binding energy of Earth is about 1032 J which is about as much energy as the Sun emits (in all directions) in a week. This is converted into kinetic energy ...


58

Although I like the classic cyberpunk concept that states that nanomachines build a small turbine generator in one of your biggest veins (like the inferior vena cava), I understand you want something built into the eye... What about an enzymatic generator? It extracts energy from the sugars and fats of your body. You can make it tap into the bloodstream, ...


54

Use the extra power to convert atmospheric CO2 to hydrocarbons and store it underground. This offers the long term storage requirements and ease of handling specified in the question. Various Energy Storage Options Batteries are known to lose charge over time, usually a few years. This isn't long enough. Capacitors are also known to slowly discharge over ...


54

Congratulations! You've solved the energy crisis! Place Portal B some distance above Portal A. Now place a turbine blade in between the two of them. Slowly insert a steady stream of water, stopping when you reach a certain amount. As the water travels through Portal A, it goes to Portal B. It then turns the blade of the turbine (producing electricity), and ...


50

Storing Energy Surprisingly, most creatures already do this! Fats built up on the body contain Chemical potential energy, as does glucose molecules in cells. This definitely isn't storing lightning in your veins, but organic flesh isn't very good with electricity as we know it. Fat itself contains around 9 calories per gram, which is about 37kJ of raw ...


47

Seed money So you've got a device which can increase the temperature of water in an arbitrary location far from the actual device. A 10 million pound version of this device is basically a weapon of mass destruction that can wipe out any city on the globe. I can see why you want to be careful with it. Fake fusion Set up a fake "fusion" power scam ...


46

First of all, the chemistry, structure and principle of operation of the batteries cannot possibly be secret. Most countries have regulatory authorities which need to approve the use of vehicles on their public roads, or of aircraft which fly in their airspace. One cannot possibly come to, for example, the Romanian Automobile Registration Authority, and say ...


45

There's plenty of ways to extract energy from Jupiter's gravity. The problem is how do you do so without lowering your house's orbit? Tidal Flexing? (probably not worth it) When two objects interact with gravity there is a tidal force. The sides closest to each other feel a stronger tug than the sides furthest away. This causes them to stretch just a ...


44

Consider looking into what and where power is needed, on demand, and people are willing to pay for it. Take for example Electric Car charging points. If you can install one of these with a payment mechanism, people will assume it's using Grid energy when in reality it's generated from your invention. The difficulty will come during the accounting phase, ...


43

As another answerer provided, Neutron stars already do this. So, I'm going to alter my answer somewhat to address whether there are other means by which a star-like object may exist, besides the one we already know about. In that regard, I'm afraid my ultimate answer to this is going to be 'No' or at least 'Not with our current laws and/or understanding of ...


42

If phytoplankton count as "not plants", and you want a non-oceanic environment, then the answer is quite straightforward: just take the phytoplankton out of the ocean. You could have a planetary ecosystem based on photosynthetic scum that covers the ground, or algae which look a lot like plants but technically aren't. You could also have an ecosystem based ...


42

It is actually a trick question, in a fully renewable energy economy natural gas pipelines will continue to transfer natural gas produced from renewable sources. Natural gas normally comes from fossil fuel sources, but at its most basic it is methane which can be renewably generated from the decomposition of organic material (such as food wastes or other ...


41

Well, Mark Olson and Samuel provide some very respectable math that winds up with the world destroying shot being taken from about 1 AU or the distance from Earth to sun. Yes, yes; it seems very reasonable. But what fun is that? A little flash of light, a great disturbance in the force; bah. You want a ringside seat. I propose that your world ...


40

You simply would not be able to do it with raw energy alone. Using a table that I simply love, consider three lines: $3.9×10^{22}\text{ J }$ estimated energy contained in the world's fossil fuel reserves as of 2010 $2.2×10^{23}\text{ J }$ total global uranium-238 resources using fast reactor technology $3.8×10^{26}\text{ J }$ total energy output of the Sun ...


40

Potentially, it would be very similar to life made out of matter. Antimatter is expected to have the same chemistry as normal matter, so any lifeforms would work the same way with the exception that if they even touched our world they would instantly annihilate. However! There is a lot about physics we don't know. Under the assumption that antimatter is ...


38

It's not that big a deal I'm not sure how you expect 'relatively cheap and abundant (but not free or limitless) electrical energy' generation to change current society... if the solution you propose is not substantially different from existing solutions. At this point, household units in 10 kW and 25 kW rated sizes are available for approximately the ...


37

This is a follow on to HDE's answer, exploring just how much energy you can get out of the thing. The 3m radius yields roughly a 30m^2 area to drop things through. Do the Portal thing: put one portal above the other, and start dropping! Now let's consider dropping slugs of material through this thing and seeing how much energy we can develop in them. ...


36

We have done experiments with gravity energy storage using trains loaded with rocks in the southwest US. I can see several drawbacks to your suggestion. Plumbing and other utilities You'd need to make all your utility connections flexible enough to deal with this change in elevation. Walking in and out of the house The last step into the house is now ...


36

Pyrotechnics, in the form of twin spinning rockets rotating the saw axle. You have jet fighters, missiles would look like an obvious option. And as a bonus, a faulty device would explode throwing shrapnel into the enemy.


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