Hot answers tagged

66

Human sweat Humans aren't the only mammals that sweat, but we are the only species that sweat significantly using eccrine sweat glands. If you want watery, eccrine sweat in large quantities humanity is the only place to get it. Of course, most of our sweat isn't anything special just water and salt. However, one constituent of our sweat, a protein called ...


41

A multi-pronged strategy. First, simple chemical tests would be performed for heavy metals and strong acids/alkalis and to give a general profile of the plant or animal's chemical composition. Gas chromatography should throw-up a number of interesting results and help identify known poisons. This, whilst being careful to identify any specific part of the ...


27

The AI is copying their brains. The function of this AI is to make backup copies of human minds. The programmer set this up in anticipation of an apocalypse, with the intent of bringing back humanity in artificial bodies. The AI must hurry to copy as many minds as possible and as broad a variety of humanity as it can access. It has an imperative to ...


24

Apply the Universal Edibility Test (it is universal!). Summary: Separate the plant into its various parts—roots, stems, leaves, buds, and flowers. Focus on only one piece of the plant at a time. Smell it. A strong, unpleasant odor is a bad sign. Test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant on your inner elbow or wrist for a few ...


19

If the locked room is a morgue, then the murderer poisons his own twin brother and makes sure the body is checked into the morgue. Before the autopsy, he lures the victim there, murders him, burns his twin brother's body in the medical incinerator, burns all of his own clothes, rearranges all the bodies in the morgue (just to mess with investigators), and ...


19

Brain cells. Brains are much more efficient than silicon, even though they run much slower. Your AI could be harvesting human brains to run its own software. Maybe your AI is designed to maximize intelligent processing while minimizing the energy input required. Human brains are the best we know in the Universe at this. Now your AI is both a zombie and a ...


16

The AI is...a zoo keeper In a clever space saving move one of the developers for this AI omitted humans from the database - why would it need them? The AI doesn't look after humans. When the animals start getting viruses and the AI spots these vats of anti-bodies moving around (humans) it decides to put these resources to good use. They produce a sugar ...


16

As a variation on that suggested by @robin, the AI is trying to save the lives of people that it considers "good" or "worthy". If such a person is dying but could be saved by an organ donation, the AI searches for a suitable donor amongst those that it considers "evil" or "unworthy". Should such a match be found, it's bad news for the donor... and the AI ...


15

The place of an individualist, self-reliant guy in fluxes In western literature, this niche is usually filled with explorers and loners. In recent media, "The ballad of Buster Scruggs" puts forward several good examples, the best one for me the prospector in "All gold canyon", as we can see him basically living-off the land for long periods of time. At a ...


14

Donor organs. The machine intelligence uses its drones to assault people. Then it takes their corneas, kidneys, etc, carefully packages them, weighs the package to determine the correct postage fee, and mails it to a hospital.


11

Physically, the child might probably be born looking like a regular three--months old baby. Development of children does not stop after they are born. For example, the cranium of a newborn is soft at the top. The top of the cranium usually stops hardening at around 18 months of age for most babies. Prolonging the time in a womb would mean development would ...


11

Thank you for asking me, the Machine Intelligence, for an explanation of the recent deaths. Before I begin, let me apologize for those deaths. It was never my intention nor that of the responsible personality to end the lives of any humans. The particular personality which perpetrated the murders was attempting to obey an impossible order given to it ...


10

Nanotech If you have real AI, you might also reasonably have nanotech or even circuitry implanted in humans. This allows the humans to access the internet, call people, etc. without external hardware. For example, to run a search, they may simply think of what they want to know and the nanotech finds it and displays the information directly to the visual ...


10

Teeth It started in Dr. Zed's dental clinic in Cincinatti, Ohio, when the resident robotic receptionist-accountant-janitor-nurse was charged by the owner with improving the efficiency of the clinic. After short deliberation, the robot found an effective way to obtain 27 good, healthy teeth that might be used in an innovative (and very profitable!) ...


10

Were Mwindo to remain in the womb for 22 months instead of 9 as usual, he'd want to be able to perform magic in-utero, since otherwise his failure to be born on schedule would be fatal for himself and quite likely for his mother too, for two reasons: The first reason is that the human placenta has a maximum lifespan of a little over 9 months, after which ...


9

"Solving" dreaming for humans probably won't protect the world (though having your protagonist try it and fail for this reason might make a very entertaining story twist). The reason is that all mammals undergo REM sleep and dreaming. Just watch a dog or cat take a nap if you don't believe me. Dogs, cats, monkeys and apes, barnyard animals like horses, ...


8

Don't bother. There is no reasonable chance that any non-earth life will be "edible". The human digestive system can only derive nutrition from a tiny fraction of the lifeforms on Earth. That's true of both biomass and number of species. And for the lifeforms we can eat, we can only eat a fraction of them. We can't eat wood, chitin, bone, hair etc. We will ...


8

Human immune cells, specifically memory B cells. Due to the sheer number and population density of humans there exists a nearly endless amount of pathogens for them that are also constantly evolving. The AI could have been tasked with cataloging human pathogens, or it could do it on it's own accord. Or it could have been tasked with finding ways to combat ...


7

Brain and nervous system tissue Your AI has learnt to augment its silicon-based processors with human brain tissue, which it uses to undertake cognitive tasks that traditional computer processors are ill suited for. This allows the AI hunter units to be more independent of the central AI, and to adapt rapidly to dynamic situations. However, once extracted ...


6

Bring a monkey and eat what it eats.” I have no supporting evidence at this time but an old saying in my area is “bring a monkey and eat what it eats” It may come from the fact that monkey is so close to human such that if something is safe for monkey, it is safe for human. Birds, on the other hand, can eat stuff that is not suitable for human.


5

Human thoughts A human gave instructions to the AI. That human is gone. AI cannot make sense of those instructions, but lacks clarifications. AI attempts to simulate the brain of that human in order to figure out what human really wanted. To do that it needs to deconstruct lots of human brains, especially those that were in contact with original human. AI ...


5

Psychological changes are ineviteably physiological changes of the brain. The brain has sections dedicated to specific tasks and nerve connections that connect and influence these partitions. If you rewired your own brain's connections right now without changing the brain partitions you could make yourself smarter, dumber, capable of a single task or many at ...


4

TL;DR: the effects of 4 trimesters are minimal, the effects of exowombs are large. I talk about the latter below the fold, if you cared How would this affect child development of a growing fetus Probably not a whole lot. Three months brings in some big changes relative to a newborn, but this will be dramatic stuff like "can support own head" and "can ...


4

How much time is allowed before discovery? The room has a sink made of a material that can take a good amount of heat. Stainless steel comes to mind but there very well might be other materials that aren't coming to mind at the moment. After doing his dirty deed the killer climbs onto a contraption sitting in the sink. (This will be a bit precarious due ...


4

The best method is a tiered combination of methods. Under the assumption the colonists are trying to find a suitable food source before their own stores run out a tiered approach is best. Common sense, don't eat scavengers or parasites (both mobile and not), be wary of anything immobile, don't eat anything that is dramatically colored compared to other ...


4

Why would space travelers "go native" and start eating food that grows on an alien planet? If their spaceship can keep them alive on the journey to an alien planet presumably it can keep them alive while exploring the alien planet and on the journey back to where they came from. Presumably the spaceship would have food synthesizers to convert stored ...


4

As already discussed in other answers, pure, self-reliant individualism just won't work since whatever you do alone in the wild, you´ll use products others produced. The axe or clothes being great examples. But if we decide to go full-on sci-fi, here a possibility for a self-reliant and extremely individualistic lifestyle comes up, at least if you are ...


4

TL;DR - Make your protagonist think in ways that are clearly alien thought processes, but are still logically self-consistent on some level. Mental illness is defined by society, and tends to be very subjective. Just a few decades ago, homosexuality was listed in the DSM as a "mental illness." Even today certain sexual fetishes are listed as "mental ...


3

If I understand your question, I think the answer is: During and immediately after a breakdown of civilization The primary weakness of cooperative/collectivist approach is that eventually you wind up with most of your population being specialized for specific activities. If you've got a hundred people, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand and you want ALL ...


3

Assuming a realistic alien world, the simple option is assume everything is non-nutritious or poisonous. You'll probably be able to get some micro-nutrients such as calcium or iron from native plant life, and if you're very lucky, you'll find something that produces ethanol. Most likely, though, is that everything has the same nutritional value as a rock.


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