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81 votes
Accepted

How do I explain that an interstellar spaceship still requires risky spacewalks?

"You did what to the controller system?!" Space is boring. Really boring. You just wont believe how vastly, hugely mind-bogglingly boring it is! I mean, you may think it's a bore to go down ...
MichaelK's user avatar
  • 43.9k
71 votes

Why are certain spaceships capable of warp at a moment's notice while others require some preparations?

The older Warp drives are ballistic. Like a bullet fired from a gun. You have to set the direction and impulse at the beginning, and thus need to have your settings exactly right, or you miss your ...
PcMan's user avatar
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66 votes

The Earth is teleported into interstellar space for 5 minutes. What happens?

Absolutely nothing happens except that it's night for about 5 minutes everywhere on Earth. It would take several days for the tides to even out. It would take several months for the foodweb to ...
stix's user avatar
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61 votes
Accepted

How can I justify a Type III civilization using planetary jump drives instead of FTL starships for galactic commerce and travel?

There are two broad reasons why the jump drives are only used on planets. The first reason is that some property which planets have but spaceships lack is required for the jump drive to work ...
BBeast's user avatar
  • 2,161
58 votes

How can I justify a Type III civilization using planetary jump drives instead of FTL starships for galactic commerce and travel?

Jump drives are just plain huge The reason they move entire planets around instead of smaller ships is because, by the time you've put all necessary equipment for a functioning jump drive into your ...
Dave Sherohman's user avatar
58 votes
Accepted

Why are certain spaceships capable of warp at a moment's notice while others require some preparations?

The Dreadnoughts are taking advantage of a breakthrough in FTL communication technology, and they continue to sync with the networks and plot the coordinates while already at warp. For this to work, ...
Qami's user avatar
  • 6,991
57 votes
Accepted

Most bit efficient text communication method?

The most efficient communication is probably a command set. Since you contemplated Morse code, I assume that the communication is done via a fully defined interface - both sender and receiver know ...
Elmy's user avatar
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55 votes

Why are certain spaceships capable of warp at a moment's notice while others require some preparations?

It still takes 72 hours, a tiny tweak in the order of events makes it seem instant. After a few decades of CEOs cutting talent from the engineering department and using the savings to pay their own ...
Ash's user avatar
  • 44.2k
49 votes

How do I explain that an interstellar spaceship still requires risky spacewalks?

Regulations Sure, the robots can do the job better (and usually do) and sure, the AI is capable of handling all the really tricky stuff, but some bean counting jobsworth back on Earth decided that ...
Joe Bloggs's user avatar
  • 66.4k
49 votes

How to prevent humanity from using alien spaceships and technology exclusively?

This answer is built into history. The first reason is it's expensive. Replacing all your technology with new upgraded technology is expensive as hell. Think about all those overhead wires still ...
Shadowzee's user avatar
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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
  • 5,051
46 votes

How did the bugs get all over the place?

Sloppy Quarantine procedures and Ships have lots of places to hide I live in NZ - we have very very very strict Biosecurity rules. We have a lot of unique wildlife here that can easily get decimated ...
TheDemonLord's user avatar
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39 votes
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Rationale for sending manned mission to another star?

It is proof of life outside earth, and technological life at that. The potential discoveries boggle imagination. It is the single most important discovery in the history of the world. Likewise this is ...
John's user avatar
  • 81.4k
38 votes
Accepted

How would a physicist explain this starship engine?

EDIT: In retrospect, I think it's possible there is some confusion about what you're asking for. If you're asking us to help fit your story requirements to real science, that's what I've tried to do ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 14.7k
33 votes

How can solar sailed ships be protected from space debris?

Generously spread the sail surface with self repair nanobots. Any impact with dust or sub-dust size object (which is more likely to happen) will pierce a hole through the sail (and leave a cloud of ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
  • 289k
31 votes

How do I explain that an interstellar spaceship still requires risky spacewalks?

Murphy's law. Specifically the Sean Cheshire corollary: There is always something you did not prepare for. Something the robots are not equipped for happened. Works even better if it is time ...
John's user avatar
  • 81.4k
31 votes

The Earth is teleported into interstellar space for 5 minutes. What happens?

Stix's answer is almost correct, but doesn't take the Earth Tide into account. To summarise, the Sun and Moon cause tides in the "solid" body of the Earth. It isn't rigid - nothing is on ...
John Dallman's user avatar
  • 24.5k
31 votes

A laser-propelled starship loses its decelerating beam; what options do they have to slow down?

Taking a page from The Mote in God's Eye, they'd keep the big sail, turn ship 180 degrees (ought to be possible, though it'll take a while), and dive straight into the oncoming star. It's a gamble, as ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 45.9k
30 votes

How to explain why humans weren’t encountered by alien species?

Okay so this is the best image I can find of where we actually are in the galaxy: If most of the life in our galaxy evolved in the core and spread to the two "main" arms of the spiral (the Scutum-...
Ash's user avatar
  • 44.9k
29 votes

How can solar sailed ships be protected from space debris?

A tiny piece of space debris is dangerous to the ship, as it may hit people, mechanisms, or fuel. But the damage to the hull itself would be negligible. It could simply be patched. The hull is the ...
Brythan's user avatar
  • 25.3k
28 votes

How to prevent humanity from using alien spaceships and technology exclusively?

There is a solution that requires only minor adjustment - your benevolent aliens don't actually believe in sharing the technology. What they believe in is sharing the knowledge needed to build such ...
Failus Maximus's user avatar
28 votes

FTL gates and drives used simultaneously without redundancy?

Planes, trains and automobiles The different forms of FTL travel are the same difference between walking, cycling, driving, and flying on an airplane. The later methods are more technologically ...
Daron's user avatar
  • 66.2k
27 votes

How to explain why humans weren’t encountered by alien species?

The sun and the surrounding stars were explored before the raise of earth's civilization, during some ice age or during the aftermath of the Toba catastrophe, when a bottleneck in human population ...
Rafael's user avatar
  • 2,110
27 votes

Rationale for sending manned mission to another star?

Because there is a 12 year decision lag with remotes Autonomous robotics are fine and well when you know exactly where to go and exactly what to do. Introduce any kind of dynamics to a situation, and ...
MichaelK's user avatar
  • 43.9k
26 votes
Accepted

How might the spores of an interstellar lifeform navigate?

The very point of a spore is to be sprouted so cheaply that the parent organism can produce so many of them. They don't navigate, they don't consume nor process energy. Therefore they can lie dormant ...
Agent_L's user avatar
  • 3,582
26 votes

How did the bugs get all over the place?

How do bugs get into your house? Via holes. How do your ships do FTL? With wormholes. How do the bugs infest planets? They dig holes into the ground, and in some way that still baffles scientists, the ...
sdfgeoff's user avatar
  • 7,810
25 votes
Accepted

The Earth is teleported into interstellar space for 5 minutes. What happens?

Short term effects are pretty much covered in the other answers and are probably nothing of interest. Then again, a great deal of things to fix later: The night sky will be completely different. Most ...
fraxinus's user avatar
  • 6,547
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
  • 6,025
23 votes

How to map arms of the galaxy?

First of all, please check out our List of Worldbuilding Resources, which might give you ideas about how you want to solve this in your world. There's an entire section devoted to mapping, from a ...
JBH's user avatar
  • 124k
23 votes

How did the bugs get all over the place?

Oh, they originated on a single planet all right... But they didn't evolve. What you have, my friend, is the million-year-old devolution of a very clever weapon of mass destruction (aka a bioweapon) ...
JBH's user avatar
  • 124k

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