Hot answers tagged

73

Everyone else is speculating when there are proper reality check examples. Flight suits that allow for free movement of wings, legs and tail are a thing. Some also contain diapers, so that your bird won't poop on people's heads. These things are even fashionable. Someone even managed to bedazzle their pigeon. Your flying people could wear such harnesses.


63

It's more likely there could exist a plant which has a flying phase of its life-cycle. Does it really fly? It might be more appropriate to call it floating, since the energy required for what is more traditionally thought of as flying, would be too much for a plant. Blimp plants/animals have long been imagined in science fiction, called living gasbags. It'...


56

Evolution Since the defining feature is not nesting on ground, the starting point should be the nesting behaviour. There should be a strong pressure to reduce time spent on the ground such as predators or competition for suitable locations with other species. This would favour a single very large egg that takes a long time to develop inside the female, but ...


55

Here is a scheme to sidestep some problems with steam engines in an alternate past. Problem: Fuel is heavy Solution: Do not carry fuel. https://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/mediumlarge/1/mouchot-solar-concentrator-1878-science-source.jpg I introduce the good Mr Mouchot, a man ahead of his time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...


49

Trees were not involved with the evolution of flight in birds. Birds did not evolve flight from gliders but likely from ground running predatory jumpers, birds and maniraptoran dinosaurs are about the most poorly designed climbers you could imagine there is zero support for tree climbing in early birds or their ancestors. So yes bird flight can and did ...


47

I would certainly expect the wheel to be invented. Sure, the society can fly, but can barrels of fine wine, flour, or iron ore? If the society grows large enough, it will eventually need to transport heavy goods and that practically requires the wheel. Whether food, metal, or wood, pretty much every soceity starts to transport goods heavier than one ...


46

This is looking long-term...after the initial surge of people taking to the air occurs has died down a bit. The airline industry would be untouched...no one takes a plane for a 15 mile trip. Aircraft move much faster and fly much further than your flight-capable humans. The same applies to cross-country trains. Bulk goods transport would be unchanged, as a ...


46

You may be missing why flight didn't happen until the early 1900s. Flight happened when engines became energy-dense enough. That's what they were waiting for. If it could've been done with steam, it would've. That said, with refinements such as the steam turbine (over the reciprocating pistons) and better metallurgy in the boilers aimed at making them ...


45

Let's revisit the premise that the sky-castle has a year's worth of water stored on it. As a corollary to this premise, we should assume that the stored water won't become stagnant or otherwise undrinkable. With minimal bathing and cleaning, just cooking and drinking and basic hygiene, the castle's smelly troopers still require about 5 gallons (16 L) of ...


42

In a last ditch effort to prevent extinction (possibly one that worked, after all people are still here) a team of scientists released a swarm of nano-machines into the atmosphere. They form a slight (insert colour of choice) haze in the air at a height of X meters above (insert sea level/ground level/some other measure/do you want to allow skyscrapers or ...


41

From a safe distance, your sappers excavate a tunnel. The tunnel leads to the tether point of the castle's anchor chain. Bring the tether down into the tunnel from below. Winch it along the tunnel. You will winch the castle downwards. Defenders of the sinking castle will see their chain disappearing into a hole. They can rappel down and enter the hole ...


39

For the sake of this answer, I will be assuming that by "castles" you mean late medieval/early Renaissance pre-gunpowder fortifications that were used for habitation as well as defense. I was also originally going to split this answer into two parts, depending on how difficult these creatures would be to kill or wound, but after some consideration, I ...


39

The first flying insects appeared (as far as we know) in the Devonian, some 400 million years ago. Before that there were no flying animals. So not only is a world without flying animals possible, our own Earth was such a world for more than 90% of its history. The catch is that flight emerged as a life strategy almost as soon as there were animals living ...


38

Ion flight. http://news.mit.edu/2018/first-ionic-wind-plane-no-moving-parts-1121 Unlike turbine-powered planes, the aircraft does not depend on fossil fuels to fly. And unlike propeller-driven drones, the new design is completely silent. “This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system,” says ...


35

Well, it all depends! :) There are tumbleweeds which grow, produce seeds, then die, break off and the whole plant moves by the wind, depositing its seeds in different ways, it's sort of like flying. Of course seeds fly all the time, dandelions and other similar flowers, Maples have their little helicopters. However, for plants to fly, first they need ...


35

The safest place is still aboard your airship. Unlike seagoing vessels, airships do not traverse a medium that is potentially deadly for humans. When a ship sinks, people need to still be able to float in water. Water is cold, wet and obstructs your respiratory passages if you breath it in. To stay safe in water you need to either swim or be on a floating ...


34

You would want to use a heating element. If you use a light (whether visible light from a LED or infrared from a quartz heating element), some of the energy is turned into light, rather than heat. If you have a transparent balloon, it escapes. If you have a black balloon, it gets turned into heat when it reaches the edge. But there's a catch. That heat ...


34

We call this "swimming" and you'd need an atmospheric density roughly that of water. The pressure needed to get a gas at that density has serious physiological effects, so just compressing the right gas mixture (one selected so as to not produce poisonous partial pressures of any of its components) wouldn't work. It is certainly possible to put enough ...


32

moving things around (mathematics argument) The wheel, or basically any spherical object, has the advantage of being the simplest shape which center of mass remains at the same height when rolling (something cubes don't have for example). That makes it the easiest shape to move around, thus the easiest way to move things around. This is mathematics, and ...


30

Most planets in the solar system have their own magnetic fields(ref.), so you could use those to levitate. Just grab a huge chunk of superconductive material, and cool it below its critical temperature just as you're at the right altitude. Regarding your requirements: doesn't make much noise or noticeable influence: check. It might squeeze our ...


30

The same way a nautilus swims around in water: jet propulsion. Nautiluses move using a hyponome, which expands to pull in water from the sides of the nautilus, and contracts to expel a jet of water. The bio-blimps can majestically wheeze across the land using what is essentially an organic bellows, just like the nautilus. Whenever it wants to move, it ...


28

I've thought about this a bit in the past. It's possible, but only if the vessel moves vertically between regions of different wind speed. On a regular ship, lift forces can be generated on the sails based on wind moving faster than the sail. The water provides drag on the ship to keep it going slower than the wind. Essentially, the boat can 'push' against ...


28

I don't think a classic Pegasus/dragon animal will work (reasons see other answers). But how about a "lighter-than-air" approach? Your (gigantic) animal will split water into oxygen (can maybe be stored in special organs for fight-or-flight situations) and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then stored in large bladders, allowing the animal to float. It then can ...


28

Discounting the problematic flying fish, flight has evolved 4 separate times that we know of. Insects, 400 million years ago Pterosaurs, 230 million years ago Birds, 150 million years ago Bats, 50 million years ago. Given that we are considering "an earth-like world" with similar gravity and atmospheric composition, there is one one common denominator to ...


28

Sadly, no. Tl;dr: the minimum size of such a creature is on the scale of kilometers and thus pretty infeasible. Instead, try making the creature some kind of colonial organism and boosting your planet. First, let's consider the simple hypothetical: how much hydrogen would it take to simply lift a whale? Well, a blue whale weighs 200 tons- that's 200,000 kg. ...


27

The impact on the transportation industry would be fairly minimal. In those parts of the world that have ready access to modern transportation, "running at a brisk pace" is something few people do regularly for any length of time unless they're doing it for sport. Read: People would be too lazy to fly themselves. Physical exertion means sweating and being ...


26

You're starting from a false premise. Look at the performance of airships during World War I to see how things really work out. The Zeppelin bombers could take an incredible amount of punishment without crashing -- it was only with the development of incendiary ammunition that British fighters had a hope of shooting them down. If your lifting gas is non-...


26

Laws, rules and regulations vary country by country according to the needs of the people or whims of the rulers. Hence no hard and fast legislation can be mentioned to have been imposed by all the countries. However, a general sketch would be something like this: In several Western countries, it would be illegal to fly above the airspace of other people's ...


26

If your world is more or less like ours, and there is no magic, then your typical gryphons will never be able to fly. By typical I'm assuming you mean the size of big cats. There's a reason why large birds don't fly, or can only fly a bit by launching from high perches, or fly very clumsily, or rely mainly on soaring on thermal currents. It has to do with ...


25

Large Rideable Flying Creatures are called Planes. They made castles obsolete. While the term castle is somewhat fuzzy, I will take it to mean a static, fortified location designed to withstand enemy attacks. Many people believe that the advances in cannon technology such better propellents and rifling killed the castle, but the Trace Italienne pattern ...


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