Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
39

If armour cannot be pierced, then you use weapons that don't rely on piercing. One option that has been mentioned is thermal attack. Use fire. Napalm, phosphorous, thermite; all kinds of incendiary weapons you can think of. There's a person inside that armour, and they need to stay cool. Make the space around the armour hot enough, and the armour will have ...


34

Shorting gold You don't actually need to make the gold, you don't strictly even need to have access to the machine. Just short the gold and then let people know the machine exists. The simple fact that someone now has an unlimited supply of gold will cause the market to crash and the profit is already made. Note that if you do this with company stocks you'...


33

Not sure why you'd want to do that in the same room, but a low barrier with glass or a wire mesh should keep the seals away from the forge. (See reference picture ↓) ...wait, all the other answers interpreted this differently. ... Alright, fine. How about two or more negative seals (...the non-animal kind) that superimpose to create the positive seal? That ...


31

Depending on the power requirement per kilogram, You may have created an infinite energy generator. From your question and one of your comments: It can take in a batch of source elements, and perform any nuclear fusion reaction without consideration of conservation of nuclear binding energy. The energy required to power the conversion of 1kg of ...


30

Make the seal a signature Specifically, a cryptographic signature. The mathematics of an asymmetric cipher like RSA would be accessible to the Victorians, although they might not fully understand what they were doing (or understand why it is secure) they could probably work through the arithmetic by hand. This is also the era of Charles Babbage and ...


23

Maximizing short-term profits will be different than long-term profits. A rare element synthesized will lose value faster as the relative amount put into the market will depress the price faster as opposed so something less valuable but more common. It will probably involve some speculation and calculations of what is in demand and what you can get the ...


22

Actual seals are so widely used exactly because it is close to impossible to fake them completely. Of course you can fake almost any seal to, say, pass a police check on the road. But experts would distinguish most fakes with ease. The reason is that any seal has it's own "fingerprint": scratches, wear, small features and even ink distribution (due to ...


22

To get a clue, we can look at the fate of space station Mir, which deorbited (in a controlled fashion) in 2001. At 130,000 kg, it was roughly one-third the mass of ISS, but more compactly built. Mir broke up in orbit 8 minutes after entering the atmosphere, and most of the fragments burned up in the atmosphere. Most of the unburned fragments fell into the ...


18

In general: Strong armor/weak ranged weapons means more close (up to hand-to-hand) combat, shorter and more active battles, elite troops rules battlefield (less camo, but more colors and honor), relativly less casulties in battles (defeated prefer to run). It also means that charge is stronger than equal number and quality defence Strong ranged weapons/weak ...


12

Secretly radioactive Secretly add to the wax a slightly radioactive substance that emits radiation at a very precise wavelength. Seal-testing equipment openly scans for imprecisions in details, but also secretly scans for this wavelength. The wax is produced every year, and the half-life of the radioactive substance means that there is also a precise amount ...


12

Call your shot. Your incoming mass is near the size of earth - too big to move except with something else of comparable mass. Hmmm... Your world has an AI at its disposal that knows the site, mass and velocity of all objects bigger than 10 kg in its immediate vicinity. There is a mass of comparable size which could be made to intercept and ...


11

Napalm Grenades In reality, you're trying to describe an 'Iron Man' style suit for your soldiers and while that may one day be possible, it's not practical - that is to say, that kind of protection would cost more than I suspect most militaries would be prepared to pay, but I digress. What the Iron Man comics, Movies et al don't really show is that in ...


11

I wasn’t sure how the weapon could be pulled back out, and I was thinking perhaps magnets? Nothing can get out of the event horizon of a black hole, not even light. And light is made of electromagnetic waves. The only thing you can get out of a black hole is Hawking radiation, but that's completely unrelated to what fell into the black hole.


10

The space station while very heavy and large is essentially built like a "tin can" with walls as thin as they possibly can be to contain the volume inside. On reentry, it would reach a maximum terminal velocity of a few hundred km/h, which is devastating if it lands on your head, but otherwise not so much. Think of it like a plane crash except without all ...


9

TL;DR: use cryptography, and moveable elements in your seal. The seal is basically there to be pretty; the actual authentication will be done via clever mathematics. Lets get down to the basics here. What is the purpose of a seal, or signature, or official ID badge or anything similar? It is intended to enable someone who is familiar with what the article ...


9

Wood from a tree is tough stuff. Ever try to break a stick more than a couple centimeters thick with your bare hands? It was probably pretty hard if not impossible (depending on the type of wood). Because of the toughness of wood, even a very small chainsaw is a powerful piece of equipment. Flesh is no match for a chainsaw, it could probably cut through it ...


8

Reasons for "spikes" in dragons: Temperature regulation. Being able to move those in different angles to the sun, and "vent" heat is one reason. Sexual prowress/sexual selection, which you are already allowing for. Water collection. As in the thorny devil of Australia, the Texas horned lizard in North America and Horvath's toad-headed agama in Turkey--all ...


8

By design. A swarm of intelligent, interconnected nanomachines doesn't sound like a natural formation. Whoever designed and built them - whether that's the gods or R&D at ConGlomCo - quite sensibly put in a backup in case their normal methods of communications failed. This backup channel consists of a surface layer that reacts with certain organic ...


8

Different types of ammo and weapons Bolo gun Taser Shotgun Shells Sonic weapons Chemical weapons Laser Blinding Weapons Basically you can protect from one type of weapon or even multiple types of weapons but you can't protect from every type of weapon. If bullets fail to work, someone will make a new type of bullet at does or switch to a different ...


8

As armour improved in the medieval ages, full plate armour couldn't be penetrated except through the cracks. The 4 methods that jump to mind that were used to resolve this are: Get up close with a dagger and place it through the joints or eye slits. Get up close with a mace or other bludgeoning weapon, and use the fact that the armour can only prevent the ...


8

Titanic 2 should use multiple reactors and independent systems to provide a reliable means of propullsion. However your Titanic 2 would be very vulnerable to missile attack. I shudder to think what would happen to such a homogenous block of Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, "alloyed" with aluminium-based composite metal foam, both reinforced with a ...


7

Do you have any ethical constraints? If not, consider building nuclear weapons (ideally immediately after secretly moving to, say, a nuclear bunker somewhere in Iceland). Uranium-235 is probably the best way to do this. While Plutonium bombs give you a bigger bang per kg of fuel, they also require complex arrangements of conventional explosives and ...


7

Supplement the seal with secondary authentication How do you tell if a Banksy painting is authentic? You might check for a signature, sure, but fakes can copy the signature too - so you check Banksy's website, where genuine paintings are pictured. And of course, even if you could fake Donald Trump's signature perfectly, you couldn't just start mailing ...


7

The "interbreed" part is where it all falls down. Our physiology is critically dependent on iron (we're awash with iron compounds from conception on). Assuming that your hypothetical elves used a different blood chemistry (copper, paging Dr. Spock), they'd be a radically different species, even with similar morphology. This would make interbreeding ...


7

maybe things like Alaskan Bull Worm from spongebob squarepants or sandworm from dune. not necessary that big, you know stuff like wyrm, by digging the soil or rock under the cities to make it collapse entire city like cave in or sink hole (deep enough to make sure people die when falling there, even if some survive the wyrm probably eat them with the rest ...


7

Many vessels in history have had two or more methods of propulsion. Galleys have both sails and oars. Most 19th century steamships had both steam engines and masts and sails. most large modern sailboats have both sails and motors. The Great Eastern (1858-1889) had two side paddle wheels and four steam engines for the paddle wheels and another steam ...


6

Californium. Synthesis will be a little tricky - Californium (Element 98) can be synthesized cheaply from two Indium atoms (Element 49), except we run into trouble. You see, Indium is stable as Indium-115, except Californium, an artificial element, starts being stable at Californium-248, meaning we need an additional 18 neutrons. Fortunately, I happen to ...


6

Surface gravity of a neutron star is in excess of 1011 Earth-gravities. What sort of mechanism are you proposing that can lift up bulk quantities of matter from that sort of gravitational field? Teleporters? If you can teleport, you can almost certainly produce much more interesting and sophisticated things than mere "nuclear weapons". The nuclear pasta isn'...


6

Modern weapons are more energetic than chemical bonds are. Graphine is no exception. A Newtonian Penetrator (if the energy levels are low enough that "solid" still matters) or a Fluid Penetrator (if not) model is how deep a given weapon penetrates armor, and it really doesn't care about chemical bonds. It cares about density and thickness. Modern anti-...


6

As with all these questions, perhaps the best place to start is by comparison to the Chicxulub Asteroid. This is the event that effectively wiped out the dinosaurs. That was an asteroid generally thought to be 1015 Kg in mass at a minimum. The ISS is closer to 4.5 x 105 Kg in mass, so it's at least 10 orders of magnitude less mass than the asteroid that ...


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