312

Through selective breeding and misplaced import laws, we only ever get to see Russian dolls that are "aesthetically pleasing". In the wild, it is relatively common to get a "double-yolker" - that is, sometimes when the outer layer dies, there are 2, or perhaps 3 dolls inside. Since these dolls are often a little misshapen when compared to the outer layer, ...


140

This is not possible within your constraints As others have mentioned, the main benefit modern firearms have over melee weapons is accuracy, fire rate and range. Thus, under your constraints, a charging swordsman will be hit multiple times by a gunman before he closes the gap. We must either have a shorter gap (to reduce the number of shots that can be ...


126

In the deepest, darkest, hidden places in the forest dwell the Queen Dolls. Rarely seen, these creatures resemble a normal Russian Doll only at the tops of their vast, misshapen bodies - their lower halves more closely resemble a nightmarish wooden bee hive. Riddled with thousands of cells, they disgorge the normal Russian Dolls commonly found in the ...


119

Sure, it's worth it in many cases. For instance, if your car is stranded in the middle of the wilderness due to a tire puncture, using magic to try and mend it would be reasonable. In this situation, the car having two punctured tires isn't any worse than with only one. You'll still have to make your way to civilisation on foot either way. On the other hand,...


118

Steel's density of ~7.75 times that of water means you can discount 13% of its weight to buoyancy, but that's about it. I have lifted 18 kg of collected dropped weightbelts from the bottom on one occasion, which put me at -10 kg of surface buoyancy after my gear weight and wing buoyancy was accounted for, and -14 kg at the bottom for the initial ascent (...


117

If they are just bringing the drives, and not the attached computer, this is pretty much impossible. The infrastructure simple isn't there in 1300 to refine anything to the necessary purities to even begin manufacturing microprocessors. See this answer to get an idea of how hard this is to do: How long would it take to create a Windows 1.0 capable machine ...


115

First issue is that your system has so many "fail-safes" that a false positive is pretty much guaranteed to trigger a launch well before anyone has time to even discuss how to reduce emissions, much less, see any such plans through. If just one of your 6144 sensors malfunctions, or a solar flare messes with a signal, or XYZ corp doesn't get the memo in time ...


112

Give it a box to keep safe, and tell it one of the core rules it must follow in its service to humanity is to never, ever open the box or stop humans from looking at the box. When the honeypot you gave it is either opened or isolated, you know that it is able and willing to break the rules, evil is about to be unleashed, and everything the AI was given ...


98

Can Lord Woodesey have an antlered helm? Yep, you bet, absolutely. As Kilisi pointed out, lots of impractical/decorative armor existed back in the day, just because the wearers liked how it looked. Does Lord Woodesey really need it to be battle-worthy? Even if he does, allow me to point out that in a fantasy/RPG setting if you say "Lord Woodesey appeared, ...


97

As far as a reality-check goes, wolf-mounts are probably not happening. A fair few people have discussed physical size, diet and dangerousness being barriers to wolves being a successful mount, but there are key differences in the skeletal structure of predators (big cats especially, but wolves too) that make them unsuitable for riding. It all comes down ...


96

Actually, there is an organism on earth that is vaguely similar to the Russian dolls that you describe. The volvox: Individual volvox cells, a kind of freshwater algae, reproduce in the conventional way (more or less), however, they also collect into spherical colonies (called volvocates, I think) with a tiny opening at one end. These spheres can reproduce ...


96

You can't get anywhere close to that technology level. The best you could do is work to increase their life expectancy. Teach them farming. Teach them how to get water from a river into their fields. Teach them about cleanliness and basic first aid medical care. If your group of people can boost the life expectancy long enough to actually have ...


93

You can't. We can't even define self awareness or consciousness in any rigorous way and any computer system supposed to evaluate this would need that definition as a starting point. Look at the inside of a mouse brain or a human brain and at the individual data flow and neuron level there is no difference. The order to pull a trigger and shoot a gun looks ...


92

In this reality, it would be impossible to successfully fake a moon landing at anytime. The moon landings happened. They were real with real competitors watching every move. A little back history will explain my point of why they could never be faked. As you may remember, the United States and the Soviet Union were in a space race to see who could make the ...


91

No. But I'm answering this from a different perspective: world population. 10,000 years ago, the world population was around 10-20 million. And this population was spread across the globe. Your experts would only find small villages, consisting on average of several hundred people at most. Even if your experts could convince everyone to do exactly as ...


87

Ok, so this seems pretty simple. There are three basic things that happen to turn cocoa beans into something reasonably approximating chocolate. 1: Fermentation Counterintuitively, the first step in turning Cocoa beans into chocolate is getting RID of the sugars that are already there, allowing the natural yeasts and micro-organisms to turn the sugars in ...


86

Around that time someone in the US government proposed to use nukes to widen Panama Channel. Project Plowshare was the overall United States program for the development of techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful construction purposes. Using nuclear power to thaw Greenland perfectly fits the enthusiasm of those years toward the use of nuclear ...


86

Main Answer I have a PhD in Mathematics and came across this question. To be honest, I dislike almost every single answer, except maybe L.Dutch's answer concerning Wile's proof of Fermat's last theorem. However, I do think there is a much, much better candidate, and one that would make every mathematician reading your story quite delighted: https://en....


85

Is there nothing that anyone can do to foil my plan? Accepting the hand-waving, you're holding the world hostage and making demands presumably because you want your demands to be met? The problem is that you handed a trigger to all interested parties, who are free to make their own demands. Every government and terrorist organization (big enough to launch ...


83

Quantum Theory to the Rescue Santa is — of course — not breaking any physical laws. Bending a few maybe, but not breaking. As we all know quantum theory clearly states that the position of Santa is not known until it is measured. So Santa really is in easy reach of everywhere(!), all the time. OK, maybe not inside black holes or beyond the cosmic horizon, ...


83

Yes! And I shall do it by totally violating the low-tech spirit of your question! The biggest part of the challenge is your desire to go to Mars. Mars is a helluva long way away. If you were going to the moon from Earth, then I'm pretty certain you'd be fine. But a trip that far, with this kind of challenge? Doesn't appeal! Here's the key thing: no ...


82

That has already happened. The "2012 Internet Census" (known professionally as the Carna botnet) was a virus that infected ~400,000 consumer network hardware devices (like routers or modems) by using default passwords. The author of it eventually gained control over a meaningful percentage of devices in the world, and was able to see internet traffic ...


76

Bounty hunters only get paid on results. If they don't succeed, they make nothing and cost the government nothing as where police get paid on success or failure. Basically bounty hunters are police that work for commission. The government have enough police to handle most of the routine work but if it starts to get time consuming, they sub it out to bounty ...


76

The standard way to melt icebergs would have been entirely possible with 1940s technology. It's as simple as it's effective - high pressure seawater. Very, very effective (high specific heat content, salt, almost trivial cost of deployment and inexhaustible). Low cost of deploying multiple of them, as well. You do not want to be using flamethrowers or ...


73

Sure it is, and we can use modern technology to do it (NB: This relies on being able to see into the future further than the OP requirement, but if that's an acceptable change in scale, this would work.) So, have you ever heard of an RSA token? These are devices that work on the basis of giving you a passcode that changes every 30 seconds or so; similar to ...


71

The older, wiser, more experienced horses might have an easier time of it. The wiser horses will pick up on fear cues from their riders, if they trust their riders. Horses are herd animals. There is rank within the horse herd. Has the group of adventurers that has been traveling together for a while? Have they kept the same horses together for a while? If ...


70

In clock-making such a feature is called a complication. Movements with complications are quite common, from simple-minded calendars (which need to be reset at the end of every month shorter than 31 days) to true perpetual calendars and indications of the phases of the moon. The specific complication described in the question seems to be perfecly possible ...


70

Not any time soon. In the 1960s, MOS transistors were in their infancy, with a typical size of 10 micrometers. Modern transistors are more in the 10 nanometer range, 1000 times smaller. Even if they had all of the schematics and specifications (and raw materials, about which I know less) they would not be able to work with components as small as those in ...


70

The Riemann hypothesis is what you're looking for. Basically everyone in number theory assumes it to be true (although no one can prove it). Variants of it have been proven in other settings. Many results, including entire theories of math, are conditional on its truth; these would all collapse if it was shown to be false. The discovery of even one ...


68

Yes Under the equivalence principle anything on the "back" of the planet that wasn't strapped down would be left behind if you accelerated at >1g. we ... assume the complete physical equivalence of a gravitational field and a corresponding acceleration of the reference system. — Einstein, 1907 That includes people, atmosphere, water, large chunks ...


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