Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now

New answers tagged

1

In my mind the hardest criteria to meet in what you posted is wrecking all the buildings. It's actually a lot easier to kill off most or all of the human population and leave them standing. The thing about the human population is that it's maintained through a really terrifyingly fragile infrastructure, and the more developed and urbanized the population ...


0

"What disaster could wipe out civilisation worldwide, but allow for immediate rebuilding? What would be the side effects?" Any disaster that would permanently alter the environment won't do. So no supervolcanos or asteroids. You have to keep the ecosystem intact, so the disaster has to target only the humans. The easiest disaster for it would be plague. A ...


0

Your buildings don't have to be consumed in the event, they can be dismantled by the survivors for their new homes like Rome experienced once it totally fell apart. Or else these buildings collapse through neglect as the reduced population rebuilds on what is local and after hundreds or thousands of years of neglect buildings that aren't stone or brick will ...


1

Some kind of super-hurricane would do the job. The wind plus flooding would wipe out most people, animals, plants and buildings. (Not sea life though, if that matters.) Only those at high elevations would survive, and maybe some by pure luck. You could create such a hurricane by heating ocean water which feeds hurricanes. You would probably want to have a "...


1

It would not, in general, be realistic, because there are plenty of horses in New Orleans and the surrounding areas today. Importing them would only make sense in two cases: 1) Something in the apocalypse caused the local horses to die out or become sterile. Perhaps due to a disease like malaria, whose vector (a mosquito) can't survive cold northern ...


1

If people do need something, they move heaven and earth for it. So people, somehow, using horses for transportation is fine. However the real question is does it make sense? A post apocalyptic setting would mean a couple of things. For starter cities are a lot smaller with a situation similar to medieval, particularly medieval, cities. As people can't ...


3

I'd go with the traditional option: bioweapon (natural or man-made). It would have following properties: no symptoms until activation (so low probability of detection and no panic) highly virulent even before activation (so you have most of the world population affected) activates by a singular world-wide event (e.g. massive solar flare) turns most of ...


0

Import the horses From your question: but would it make sense for traders from the North to breed horses and bring them to the South to sell? Yes, it would make total sense! Horses originally came to North America from Europe, not land migration. So, historically, their movement and sprawl is greatly affected by humans who raise them. Going further ...


3

I can think of a couple options: Gray Goo An unstoppable swarm of nanites, or maybe even larger (e.g. insect-sized) creatures that destroy all non-bio-associated metal, would probably do the trick. Ancient stone buildings (and wood buildings with all wood joining) will mostly be unaffected, but many modern buildings will collapse, and the economic ...


0

I would go for massive earthquakes over just about all of the earth. You'd be guaranteed to destroy almost all infrastructures, a lot people will die, but a lot of data and ressources could be safe enough to start rebuilding soon after. An interesting development after such a global scale natural disaster would be large floods, landslides, plagues etc that ...


2

A nearby supernova might well meet your requirements. Such an event occurring within 50-100 light years of Earth might well have adverse effects on Earth. If the distance of the supernova were just 30 light years the effects would likely be devastating. In fact the close the event the worse the effect, so you can dial up whatever level of destruction you ...


1

The more spread out a state is, I would think the less likely it would be that a majority of the people would be killed. Texas has quite a few counties that are bigger than Rhode Island and many of those have fewer than 1000 people. Is it an efficient use of resources to send out a nuke just to kill a handful of people in the middle of nowhere? If you took ...


2

Rhode Island (I like my other answer better, but the questioner really wants a state, so I'm going to give this answer assuming a string of very fortunate events) Let's say America strikes first in this scenario. Using a combination of nukes, hydrogen bombs, kinetic orbital bombardments etc., the US of A reduces Russia from a barren frozen tundra to an ...


1

Make the comet unusual and therefore interesting. Human beings, even apocalypse survivors, are inherently curious creatures. Let's say that the comet was identified as earth-bound months before its arrival but was downplayed in the media as being too small and lightweight to survive atmospheric entry. Everyone expected it to burn up without impact, so when ...


2

Which state is most likely to survive, assuming all of the special conditions listed by puppetsock? My vote is for Alaska. AFAIK, there are no important military installations there, at least none that would pose a threat after the rest of the US military infrastructure was nuked. Because of its location, it is a long way from all of the other possible ...


4

The first contact is always a matter of chance or luck, of course there's no story until it happens. The downside in this specific case is that the level of destruction around the initial impact site is so high that it's going to keep humans well away for a significant period of time. Of course there's no story if the parasite doesn't find a host so it'll ...


0

A few scenarios for you to choose from: Humans and parasite start at the same location Dunno why this would be, but maybe the comet fragmented on arrival and the parasites lands in a populated region. Maybe just outside a city, or in a rural area. Contact is inevitable. Humans and parasite start far apart, humans go to parasite As you said, maybe the ...


4

The one with the most amish people in it. It is protected by your armor, so I don't care to make anything up on how that state would be spared from the nuclear fire. Amish live in rather small communities but are still able to create pretty much everything they need by themselves. They still know how to survive without modern tech, how to make butter with ...


3

Most of the answers are addressing the survivability, but one thing you are referring to that isn't addressed much is which states would continue to think of themselves as a state. Texas I have lived in several, and the only state that I really know of that takes significant pride in itself as a state is Texas. I would be surprised to learn that any ...


4

I strongly suggest you read this book: In the book there's an EMP (or, whatever, I don't remember - it's not that interesting). Afterwards, everyone has to survive in a "survivalist" situation just as you describe - only a small pocket or pocket of reasonably-functioning society. What's the outcome? The outcome is this: Survivalism is just utterly, ...


0

Megavolcanos like Yellowstone and Lake Toba: In the case of Yellowstone the richest nation of our current era would lose half of its territory and it's most fertile farmlands. Even ignoring volcanic winter (and that can't be ignored) the food markets will be chaotic for decades as one of the major food exporters go from exporter to importer. Any shock like ...


2

Smallpox The World Health Organization (WHO) describes smallpox as: [O]ne of the most devastating diseases known to humanity. Smallpox is transmitted from person to person by infected aerosols and air droplets spread in face-to-face contact with an infected person. The disease can also be transmitted by contaminated clothes and bedding... Two forms of ...


2

Impact/bombardment from the Taurid Meteor Stream Example; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9So2SfJzE8 Every year we pass through/by this meteor stream twice, which originated from the breakup of a much larger comet named Encke (we've actually been hit with things from this stream a few times, https://www.space.com/beta-taurid-meteor-shower-tunguska-...


4

It is not possible, no matter how good your plot armour, for a whole state to survive. Consider Montana which someone suggested might not be hit too hard. At least 55 separate nuclear detonations would be required to the west of Great Falls just to prevent the 10th Missile Squadron from retaliating. It would be sensible to double that number to account for ...


0

If you want to go for a tech related catastrophe, check out this article on the future of AI: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html Basically your biggest problem isn't a terminator-like humanoid, rather a super intelligence with a single task at mind. If we die this way it's a pretty cool way to die.


1

Create an organism with infectiousness of the common cold, payload when triggered like Ebola (mechanism may differ but Ebola is "pretty effective" Silent transmission like HIV. It doesn't trigger until we all have it and then it presents an Ebola like worldwide effect with nobody to help those who may otherwise survive with proper care. Charming. Y'All ...


3

1) Do not throw out asteroids - they are not all mapped! And they are not tracked 365/24/7. Asteroids have a tendency to change their course due to the influence of the planets (mostly Jupiter). And even quite large asteroids (up to 1 km in size) will be detected only months before impact. That is the reason why asteroids that would pass by millions of km ...


1

My personal opinion is that genetic engineering will cause an ecological catastrophe of one kind or another. Many times a non-native species was introduced in a habitat it caused havoc there. Australia is a prime example with rabbits and cats. The genes on earth form an "ecology" in themselves, divided in "habitats". While there is a lot of interaction ...


1

Biological warfare/terrorism aimed at hitting food production could contribute. Say a pathogen aimed at disrupting grain supplies is unleashed by a malicious state or terrorist organisation, and proves more effective & resilient than intended. Terminator gene fails (the pathogen keeps spreading forever) The pathogen hits more forms of grain than ...


7

The biggest problem with coming up with a disaster scenario here is the need to kill 90% of the population. That's going to be a very difficult thing to do. Most of the disaster scenarios mentioned in other answers (climate change, a Carrington event, a limited nuclear war) would not come close to that. The IPCC says climate change could cause a loss of ...


11

The most likely state (or at least partial state) to survive would be Montana. The Cascade Mountain range would help, but not necessarily stop, the radiation from any nukes hitting the West coast of the US, while itself and none of the surrounding states have many high priority targets to hit. No major cities on the scale of New York, San Francisco, etc. No ...


3

another Carrington event A solar based EMP would essentially throw us back 150 years in technology. No major city would survive the first winter. Only hardened electronics, or those stored in nice faraday cages would survive. An estimate of 1/2 to 2/3rds of the worlds population would be dead within a year.


11

The most likely suspects Molecular Nanotechnology (either weaponized or accidental). ~31% Artificial Super Intelligence (terminator scenario). ~27% Large scale wars, including nuclear and terrorism. ~27% Engineered or natural pandemic. ~15% I've summarized the Source and redistributed the probability under the assumption that there was such an event. Note ...


4

I would argue famine is a good contender in general. Over the last 100 years, we've come to rely on refrigeration and a global network of food shipment to supply local needs across the globe. As a planet, it's almost as if we've collectively decide to put all the production of any particular farm production into one ecosystem, and just ship the products ...


8

I also believe climate change is the most likely source of catastrophe over the next century. Not only starvation and migration-induced wars, but weather pattern changes that could lead to much more rapid changes in habitability of populated regions. For instance, a five year drought in Brazil would probably depopulate half of South America, and have knock-...


19

The Four Horsemen Global warming is making crop failures look likely. Famine can kill large numbers of people and historically has done so often. Tens of millions died in the midcentury famines in China and the USSR. If global warming makes the tropics unsuitable for agriculture that would lead to famine in Africa and India for sure and possibly China. ...


0

Its possible. The reason why one state would be spared, is because it has better missile defense sites. U.S. missile defense technology is still in development. Rather than rolling-out the prototype systems across the whole country at once, the existing U.S. missile defense sites (midcourse system) are only installed in a couple of locations (Alaska and ...


5

Hawaii. Other answers have pointed out the unlikeliness of a place not getting nuked, and have maybe glossed over the impracticality of surviving nuclear winter... but I'll assume you storycraft your way around those. Hawaii seems to be the most likely. It has only a handful of military bases (11 according to google), but none appear to be ICBM style ...


11

Certainly not at anything like the standard of living currently existing. Everything I have read about nuclear war says one-up-all-up. The most likely scenario is that on detecting a definite indication of a nuclear attack, everybody who has nuclear weapons launches most of their own. This is because if they don't there is too much chance their own weapons ...


10

Multiple US states will likely survive. Consider that, even with the USSR no longer a threat, our current missile defense systems are pretty darn decent. I mean, they're not perfect, but they're out there and they're getting better. If the USSR was still a very real and tangible threat, our research into ballistic missile defense would be much better ...


36

I once read an article called "You Will Survive the Doomsday" which argued that you will, well, survive the Doomsday. How realistic their assessment is I hope to never learn, but the main line was that nobody is going to carpet-bomb every square inch of American soil over and over and over again. The enemy will send everything they can to the top priority ...


21

No Here is a good essay on the strategic implications of nuclear weapons. (I'm not an expert myself, but it strikes me as plausible enough that it seems legit). It's long, but worth reading. A couple of salient points: 1) A warhead doesn't destroy a whole city. There is a zone of guaranteed total destruction, but it's much smaller than most think it is....


18

No By 2100, assuming we're using the arsenal gathering rate that took place during the Cold War (40,000 Nuclear Warheads produced between 1950-1990 is 1,000 Nukes per year) that adds an extra 110,000 Nuclear Warheads for 150,000 total. (I'm using this because it's somewhat realistic and smaller than other methods that you could use to calculate it.) Given ...


0

To go along with teachers and doctors, therapists / psychologists could be quite useful in a post apocalyptic society. A lot of people will have gone through a massive trauma and lost many loved ones. People will struggle to adapt to a new lifestyle, cooped up in a small colony, fighting to survive in this harsh world. Who wouldn't snap?


1

Not a Job per-se but more focussed on the "does not need to go outside" part of your question: Frail grandparent The spry ones might still be needed on the farm or doing odd jobs around the village but at some point they will be elderly (and/or lazy and respected enough) to have nothing to do but watch the kids, drink tea and gossip.


1

Aside from what is written already. Electrical engineer/electrician. Pretty simple. People would still need electricity and a person with the ability to keep a generator running is worth their weight in gold. They fix the lights, the monitors, the hospital equipment, the floodlights, the electrical fence...etc They would be as valuable as a doctor. ...


7

A tiny village of 150 people will likely have every single person needing to contribute to the farming economy somehow, simply in order to remain fed. Even the local blacksmith will be out at harvest time, if only to check and do repairs on tools in the field or help fix a wagon. Similarly, doctors (or barbers if they have really devolved that far) will be ...


2

Depends on just how much salvaged stuff they have. If the timeframe envisions needing teachers, most relics will wear out. Assume that they need to replace them: Food Possible but unlikely. Perhaps some experts at preserving food by canning, pickling, smoking, etc. Are mills operated by hand? Milling grain could be an indoor drudge job. Clothing Much more ...


3

This sounds like a variant of basically every apocalyptic zombie movie/game/comic ever. What's the problem?


3

Physics question Converting the sea/atmosphere to different states of matter will not affect their mass or the pressure they exert. So the pressure at 1km below the surface would remain roughly the same. Engineering question I suggest that the best option would be via an underwater tunnel cut from the bottom of the ice sheet (or a bit further down to allow ...


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