46

The metal can be either very reactive, as you stated, or it can have a very high melting point, making it unpractical to use smelting based refinement techniques. Think for example of tungsten which melts at 3422 °C, most crucible and furnace materials will melt or decompose before it does, so how are you going to handle it in its liquid form? If your ...


21

Probably not. Your lack of range is going to be punishing, unless you can also provide gnome cavalry. Stronger and better equipped enemy archers will shoot up your little peeps before they can get into range, most likely. They could of course use crossbows. The rate of fire will be lower, but using suitable mechanical aids the gnome's relative lack of ...


21

As an alternative to "hard to refine", I'll propose "dangerous to refine". Your metal is found in more than one natural isotope, where at least one isotope is more or less stable and useful, but the other isotope is radioactive. Isotope separation is quite awkward, even with modern technology, though perhaps magic helps in this regard. This means that given ...


18

Yes or no, depending on how accurate you make them shoot and your other forces. If your gnomes are able to shoot out eyeballs or kneecaps at range and your foes don't have shields, then you're good. Not a lot of draw force/body penetration is required to issue a serious wound, especially around the head and neck. Assuming you're close enough, an arrow ...


17

Yes, but they can't be used as traditional medieval archery units. In medieval wars, standard tactics for archers was sending volleys high into the air without much targeting (as precise targeting at that range is nearly impossible due to the nature of arrows). There will be no substitute for archer's strength in this case. Weaker archers would have smaller ...


16

There's a fairly basic contradiction in your posing of the question, which is that the more inert a metal is, the easier it is to purify by definition. A metal that is abundant as oxides or salts but cannot easily be purified is a metal that is by definition highly reactive; it doesn't want to exist as its pure form because it is so much more stable as a ...


13

Rare earth elements might be a good example. Good ore sources are rare, they are hard to concentrate, hard to refine and even harder to separate into elemental form as they all tend to occur in the same ore and have very similar chemical properties. The rare earth elements are reactive metals, but separation difficulty applies to other metals as well such ...


11

Your metal is allotropic, meaning it exists in multiple distinct forms under the same set of conditions (like diamond and graphite). Unfortunately for you, the allotrope that's useful is extremely rare. Refining the material produces 99.99% allotrope A (which is brittle and generally useless) and only 0.01% allotrope B (a metastable state and the form that ...


11

Let's do some math to find out. Let's say each "panel" of the sphere is 0.01 m thick, at a distance of 1 AU (149597871000 m) we would need to cover $4\pi r^2=2.8 \cdot 10^{23} \ m^2$, resulting in a volume of $2.8 \cdot 10^{21} \ m^3$. Assuming a density equal to that of water, we get that we need $2.8 \cdot 10^{24} \ kg$ of matter to complete the Dyson ...


10

It must be distilled. This metal has a low melting point and a low boiling point. Heat adequate to smelt it from its salt is adequate to boil it into vapor, which then escapes with the hot gases produced by the forge. To capture the metal vapor one must use something like a distillation apparatus or fractionation column to capture and condense the hot ...


10

Titanium is relatively abundant in the form of titanium dioxide, not particularly reactive like the alkali metals, but still quite difficult to refine and even harder to forge. Why? Because even though it's not very reactive under normal conditions, it will still burn, reacting with atmospheric oxygen to turn back into titanium dioxide, at a lower ...


9

This question has a lot of assumptions in it. Accuracy on the battlefield isn't a thing. Archers aim into the air and hope to hit something. Draw weight isn't terribly important either for this purpose. It's all about speed and technique. Your archers would be just as effective as anything else, and would have an easier time hiding from return shots. ...


8

It's not difficult to refine; magic makes the process unpredictable Several other answer mention the dichotomy between being inert and being difficult to refine. So, turns out it IS really easy to refine, it's just that part of it's inert nature is absorption of magic. When the metal is refined, the magic is released in a very uncontrolled manner. So the ...


9

The first part of this description, while weird, certainly seems possible. The behavior of these pillars are basically a mix of Cordyceps and Acacia trees. The former is well-known for controlling ants, forcing them to crawl upwards to help the fungus distribute its spores. The second secretes a nectar that incites ants to protect it from predators. ...


7

I do not believe that dragons would normally resort to the need for game driving. Keep in mind why humans needed to resort to game driving to get their food, we were slower than most animals so we had to resort to traps and teamwork to kill them to get food quickly (before we made weapons that allowed us to do so at range). On the other hand, traditionally ...


7

No Gnomes are specified as being the "least intelligent" race - even compared to orcs, who are merely "less intelligent" - and the commander wants to hire them to undertake scouting, harassment and hit-and-run tactics? Not a chance. The least intelligent troops get handed a spear and a shield and drilled extensively in the hopes that given enough time ...


6

I want to offer an alternative perspective. The military pays for the cheapest bid offered, sometimes there is corruption involved. The equipment might under preform(think of the M16 in Vietnam) and the cost is mostly in human lives, but grunts are not that expensive to replace (unless you are thinking of starship troopers type infantry where each soldier ...


6

Military equipment has to be light enough to be transported - often by human power - to the unpredictable locations where it will be used for an unpredictable but probably short length of time, after which it might well be abandoned rather than transported back to a military base. Assuming, of course, that it is not destroyed by enemy action. Mining ...


6

It's probably fair to say that most people aren't familiar with the realities of military or mining equipment, much less space military and space mining. They see on TV that tanks and humvees look bigger and bulkier than their Honda Civic, so they assume military=tougher. They see that earth moving equipment looks even bigger and bulkier, so they assume that ...


6

You have two questions to consider here: Can compounds required for blue atmospheres form in significant amounts on this planet, and are the temperatures right for them to condense and form clouds? I talked about atmospheric composition and color in an answer to a related question. Essentially, the question of whether or not compounds like ammonia and ...


6

Yes, but... This would be a pack hunting technique rather than for solo hunting. If you're happy to have your dragons hunt in packs then it's entirely valid. For a solo hunter it may be almost impossible to maintain more than a very short drive. Setting the fires too early may close off the path to the cliff, setting the fires too late would allow the ...


6

Rare earths already being suggested, I suggest something similar - Zirconiunm + Hafnium. They are very similar in chemical properties, found together in nature and rather hard to separate, zirconium is used in nuclear technology for being transparent to neutrons, hafnium is a neutron poison. If you need zirconium in a nuclear reactor, you need zirconium at ...


6

The simplest answer is to pick a population growth rate and apply the Rule of 72 in reverse. Modern (industrial) societies seem to be running about 3%, which means every 24 (72÷3) years you go back, you halve the population. If you have 36M people in 2020, that means 18M in 1996, 9M in 1972, 4.5M in 1948, and so on until you reach ~550 people way back in ...


6

Why would such a creature evolve to essentially never stop eating For half of an entire year? The energetic content that the animal can extract from the food is very low, thus it has to constantly feed to get the right amount of supply. Once I read that "eating celery costs more energy than what you get from it". Apart from the accuracy of the claim, ...


5

Yes, but there are some issues For one thing, potatoes did not appear in Afro-Eurasia until after the Middle Ages, with the Columbian Exchange. When potatoes were introduced to Northern Europe it led to a population boom that may have contributed to the Industrial Revolution. Potatoes are far more efficient in terms of calories per acre than any old world ...


5

You raise legitimate concerns. Even if there was simply enough mass, it may not be the right atoms (we don't build anything out of helium for instance). Which is why some people already came up with the dyson swarm, as well as other variants. A Dyson swarm is a swarm of smaller constructs which gather and send back the energy they collect. It is more "...


5

Why standardize? Logistics The weapons smiths have to manufacture only one pattern. The supply clerks have to order only one pattern. The armories have to store only one pattern. If the army needs more skirmishers and fewer pikemen, at least the sidearms are readily available. Training You need to turn a pikeman into a crossbowman? You have to teach him the ...


4

Up to a point, draw weight contributes heavily to higher accuracy. A higher draw weight means faster arrow speed, which leads to a flatter trajectory and greater accuracy with less need to adjust for range, less room for the arrow to be affected by wind, less chance for the target to move, etc. If the draw weight is too much, the archer's muscles get tired ...


4

Your gnomes could definitely act as raiders / partisan terrorists: attacking small communities on enemy lands, killing a farmer or two, setting fire to everything and quickly escaping on their tiny ponies before a response is launched doesn't need armor-piercing archery or a whole lot of intelligence to pull off. They could also be utilized for guerrilla ...


4

Awesome traps. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapezius It is not only the science and the probing for the Grays. In their off hours they are total gym rats and if you mess with one it will snap you like a twig. Under their flowy robes those little guys are buff as stink. Most of all they develop their trapezius muscles - illustrated. These muscles ...


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