70 votes
Accepted

Is there a precedent for inventing a new technology many years before anyone else?

The first example that pops into my mind is Hero of Alexandria. He was close to two millenia early with a lot of his ideas, but it is worth noting that nothing he made became more than a toy. He had ...
kingledion's user avatar
  • 85.5k
63 votes

Can an Alien Breed With Earth Animals?

Not a chance Does your alien even use DNA? Is its biology even remotely similar to that of earth based life? If it is it would be a great surprise as both evolutionary trees will have been completely ...
Slarty's user avatar
  • 37.3k
62 votes

How does an all-female medieval country maintain itself?

If the sex is freely available, the men will come (no pun intended) Males are naturally attracted to sex. If sexual partners are easily found and freely available, they will travel. Your problem is ...
Thorne's user avatar
  • 46.8k
51 votes
Accepted

How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

Sure why not. There are plenty of toxins out there that are lethal in small amounts. We're already getting pretty good at targeted genetic engineering using techniques such as CRISPR. Given 50 ...
sphennings's user avatar
  • 21.4k
51 votes
Accepted

Is intraspecies genetic incompatibility possible?

Yes, this is possible and in fact already happens in humans causing apparent infertility in couples (alongside a host of other sexual reproducing organisms). Consider for instance variations in two ...
GretchenV's user avatar
  • 1,029
49 votes
Accepted

How would "Amazon" (a female only subspecies) genetics work?

Driver chromosome. Your Amazons carry a driver chromosome. Driver chromosomes are examples of "selfish" genetic elements which suppress their competition during meiosis. X chromosome drive ...
Willk's user avatar
  • 305k
48 votes
Accepted

How should a time traveler be careful if they decide to stay and make a family in the past?

Not at all. The problem with inbreeding is that "bad" recessives might combine. By adding several hundred generations in between, the risk of that is exceedingly small. No larger, really, ...
o.m.'s user avatar
  • 115k
44 votes
Accepted

How can an organ that provides biological immortality be unable to regenerate?

TL;DR the greatest risk to a long-lived organism is cancer, when cells start to reproduce incorrectly. To prevent this, not only you need a method to supply fresh stem cells to all organs but also a "...
LSerni's user avatar
  • 55.3k
44 votes

Is there a paternity test method given medieval level technology with low false positive rate?

In the Middle Ages they had not one but two absolutely certain paternity tests. If the mother was married, then the husband of the mother was the father of the child, according to the legal maxim ...
AlexP's user avatar
  • 89.6k
43 votes

How can the wealthy prevent the illegal propagation of their genetic code?

This is a legal problem rather than anything else. While today DNA is used to establish paternity/maternity, we already have legal exceptions. For example, several US states do not allow sperm donors (...
Otkin's user avatar
  • 6,655
38 votes

How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

So two ways I can see. The first is simple selective breeding. Get lots of hornets and sample their venom. Take the ones with the most potent venom and cross breed their lines. In the next ...
AndyD273's user avatar
  • 34.7k
38 votes

Sure-fire way to identify an heir in a world without genetic testing

While you point out there is no genetic testing, & I can certainly understand why that would be the case, Blood typing is a skill that is likely to not have been lost. Specifically because it is ...
kiltannen's user avatar
  • 1,406
36 votes

Is there a paternity test method given medieval level technology with low false positive rate?

Given medieval technology there is no reliable paternity test. It wasn't until the 1960s when genetic testing to determine paternity became possible. HLA testing had a 80% success rate and couldn't ...
sphennings's user avatar
  • 21.4k
35 votes
Accepted

Could humanity survive if all except a few males died in a plague?

I don't think that, even with artificial insemination techniques, you could successfully repopulate with only 5 men. Check out the math here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sperm_donation. It takes a ...
Jason K's user avatar
  • 12.6k
35 votes
Accepted

Will a race survive eugenics?

Yes, species can survive eugenics. Many already have (though admittedly not sapient species). Every single species ever domesticated by humans such as cows, dogs, cats, bees, pigs, chickens, llamas, ...
Ummdustry's user avatar
  • 3,969
35 votes

Are artificial genes discernible from natural ones?

A couple of bioengineers decide to play silly buggers with the exobiologists downstairs by cobbling together an artificial life form and claim it is a naturally-evolved alien animal A DNA-based alien ...
LSerni's user avatar
  • 55.3k
34 votes

Could your grandchild be genetically identical to you?

Yes, but it'd never happen. There's nothing to prevent it, though the chances of it happening in the wild are effectively 0. From each grandparent you inherit 25% of your genes. Your parent inherits ...
Separatrix's user avatar
  • 118k
34 votes

How does an all-female medieval country maintain itself?

You don't really have a problem (or at least not the one you think you have). The 'standard (literary) solution' doesn't bear much relation to observed reality throughout history. People travel if ...
Pelinore's user avatar
  • 9,243
34 votes

Is there an Evolutionary advantage for 10% of my mammalian species from the Homo genus to have Von Willebrand blood-clotting disease?

They are a recovering species The affliction isn't an advantage. The Homo Haematophagus is simply recovering from a large wipe out event. Afterwards the genetic diversity is so low that there is too ...
Trioxidane's user avatar
  • 36.5k
33 votes
Accepted

Could you populate a hospitable planet with only a vial of DNA?

Just DNA? Probably not. DNA in and of itself is just information. It contains the coding for cellular machinery, it is not that machinery itself. In the case of a crash landed ship where all ...
Green's user avatar
  • 52.8k
32 votes

Could humanity survive if all except a few males died in a plague?

One of the first things I would be concerned with is how the people of the world would be made aware that these five men are even alive, much less the only viable sperm donators. We are facing a ...
Martine Votvik's user avatar
32 votes

Real DNA encryption (or at least making it hard to decode/change)

Will not happen in foreseeable future Let me show you this XKCD first: [White Hat, holding a laptop, is talking to Megan who looks at her smart phone.] White Hat: Biology is largely solved. ...
Mołot's user avatar
  • 33.3k
29 votes

Can an Alien Breed With Earth Animals?

Let's take a stab, and say that your creatures look something like this: Those are pretty dog-like, don't you think? Now, let's look at where that one came from, evolutionarily speaking (its ...
user's user avatar
  • 29k
29 votes

Could your grandchild be genetically identical to you?

You can, under these conditions: you are a woman you clone yourself and bear the cloned fetus in your womb your daughter, when reaching sexual maturity, does the same. Your grandaughter will be a ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 287k
27 votes

How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

Researchers notes Abstract: Find way to terrorize people for our dark overlord-to-be. Lest we lose our research grant. So we, and our families, will not be used as test subjects by other researchers....
Flummox - don't be evil SE's user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

How could cats evolve toxic claws?

So far as I am aware all venom is created in glands and generally derive from enzymes that already exist for some practical function. A mutation of the code for one of these enzymes is usually the ...
James's user avatar
  • 32.9k
26 votes

Genetic structure of a trait with six discrete phenotypes

Blood type, there are six alleles for blood type with four phenotypes. Just use a similar plan and make them all co-dominant instead the normal setup (O does code for a protein it just doesn't work). ...
John's user avatar
  • 81.1k
26 votes

Is intraspecies genetic incompatibility possible?

Something similar is possible in humans due to a difference in Rh blood groups. The Rh blood group system consists of 49 defined blood group antigens1, among which the five antigens D, C, c, E, and e ...
Elmy's user avatar
  • 15.5k

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