44

I've got what I think is a nice easy answer - you NEED the rails. Yes, you need the fire, you need the water to create the steam, but unless you are running on the enchanted rails, you aren't going anywhere! Perhaps the rails provide the magical "oomph" to turn a normal fire into something that can provide a high enough steam pressure, perhaps managing ...


34

The effort to make a magic-engine doesn't have to scale linearly, so to make a small magic-engine still takes a long time to do. You could justify this in many ways. For instance that every engine require certain base enchantments to support the main power generating "burner" and these base enchants aren't affected by size because they're simply the magical ...


34

Developing a durable incandescent filament takes decades of patient and expensive effort. But you can get an arc light. working on almost the first try. Since you lack the technology to distill separate gases from the atmosphere, your arc must burn in air. This limits you to the carbon arc lamp. The good news is that these can easily be produced in any ...


26

That's what happened in 19th century. As soon as there were steam engines, steam buses started to appear. But they were heavy and amount of damage that car does to road is proportional to 4th power of its weight. It quickly become evident that those buses profits were based on unpaid externality - broken roads so they were shut down.


25

That would be not a hammer, but an axe. Stone age hammers and axes did not differ much, and in most cases were both - depending on the side you used (this is still the case for "civil" axes). An axe has a very aerodynamic (hydrodynamic) form and can be easily used underwater. And it was and is used underwater by divers where a knife is not enough (like ...


22

No assembly lines for magic It sounds like you've already solved the problem without realizing it. You said that magic requires individual enchanters building the object. You can also make it that the entire enchantment must be done by the same person or group of people - you cannot have one person create one part and another person create another part. ...


22

For heavy traffic as well as everyday commuting, the most practical infrastructure seems to be tunnels under the snow-layer. This is an obvious solution because, since there is 24/7 blizzard as you say, common transportation across the surface will be difficult and, in some cases like planes for example, extremely dangerous (due to the almost non-existent ...


17

The final great filter Any civilisation that attempts FTL causality breaking will very quickly twig that it can be used for all sorts of shenanigans. This means the any race brave (or foolish) enough to make the attempt is destined to become a race that uses these causality bending effects for their own gain. To whit: they’ll be time travellers. But no ...


15

The International Association of Horse Breeders and Carters is very politically powerful. They object to paving roads because of the extra wear on horses' hooves. The rather heavy steam cars get stuck in the ruts in the unpaved roads, and have to be pulled out by teams of horses, for a not-so-small fee.


13

Since your setting seems to be pretty primitive, thus not making highly advanced technology an option, I think we can look to nature for possible alternatives to hammering. An apt answer (similar to another answer by user V.Aggarwal here) that can be found in nature is the pistol shrimp. The pistol shrimp has a special claw that lets it snap its claw so ...


13

No, they can't. To make a transistor you need to be able to smelt and refine to high levels of purity specific materials like Silicon, Germanium, Boron, Phosphorus and the like, and for some of them you even need a specific crystallographic set up. While Silicon and Phosphorus are easily found in their bound state, refining them is beyond the capabilities ...


11

Make it so that an engine requires a magic person to be there to steer it. Perhaps a priest is needed at all times to refill the water. Perhaps a magic person is needed to maintain the enchantments, or they need to make minute to minute changes? Perhaps in the future they can innovate this need away, but right now every engine needs a skeleton crew of '...


10

Nothing on the surface. In this scenario, topside ships of any size are sitting ducks. If your oceangoing vessels are going to survive they need to all be subsurface where a thick blanket of water protects against lasers, railguns and missiles.


10

The key here is "•Abnormally good mineral deposits of whatever we want." What you want is a large deposit of Silicon Carbide (e.g. moissanite) in reasonably large/pure crystals. If decent crystals are not available, find a supply of Argon, and use the Lely method to grow them - while this requires high heat, you should be able to use your copper wire to ...


10

A Vacuum hammer Not exactly a vacuum hammer, but one that uses its principles to operate. There is a certain fish that preys-on using these principles (I forget its name). It simply opens up its mouth wide and quick enough that the surrounding water along with the smaller fishes in it, storms into its mouth with astonishing speed. Your creature can use ...


10

You cannot optimize a zero. First of all, fuel bars in nuclear reactors count hundreds or thousands of those pellets. It's like I ask you to invent the car engine just by giving you a drop of gasoline. Furthermore there is no way for a person with the knowledge level of 14th century to have the faintest clue that what they are handling is a nuclearly ...


9

Yes, it could, but the question is why. Plasma either destroys whatever it touches, or cools and stops being plasma when it touches things. So you need to do what fusion reactors do, and contain the plasma with powerful electromagnets, not just a durable container. But then you could just use the same magnets to push the projectile. Remember, whatever ...


9

Make a glass "tube" of decent size. Make a glass "disk" with 2 holes in it. Make 2 copper wires probably 1 to 2 inches long. Tie a bamboo fiber between the ends of the copper wires and seal it with a tiny drop of glass. Thread the wires through the holes (one each, but not all the way) and seal the disk to one end of the tube. Make a "cloth" piston with ...


9

Assuming their metabolism isn't far higher than their size would suggest (it has to be higher than a human's, but they ought not to need more food, water, and oxygen than a house cat at that size), they'll find it much easier than we did. The first humans into orbit required multiple tonnes of life support and thermal protection equipment, equipment with ...


9

The inhabitants would not have the faintest idea what they were they would just be rather curious small round cylinders. They would probably find a use for them as a sling stone or similar but they would impart zero understanding of nuclear physics. One of the biggest problems being the completely different culture and mind set before the enlightenment. ...


8

The rails are the key. Magic requires the flow of the energies from the air to the earth. Iron rails, and the iron wheels that ride on them, and the safe conduit for that flow. Many times before, people had build engines atop wooden or rubber wheels. They even tried iron tyres around wooden wheels. In every case the energies were blocked, resulting in ...


8

I would start writing a message on the floor using grains of sand and dirt lying around. But realistically you would just very quickly end up freezing to death because of the square cube law.


8

Here are a few reasons: Anonymity - anything "on the waves" can be tracked; cash is harder to track, especially if it's something valuable like silver (ie no number on it) Sustainable Value - digital currencies are prone to rapid fluctuations in buying power; a dollar today will buy more than a dollar in the future (inflation). Any non-paper physical ...


8

Communication != Contribution There are a few considerations that factor in to the decision that the masters of an empire take when faced with a request for independence of a colonial state; 1) Ongoing Contributions of the Colony to the Empire 2) Ongoing Expenditure in maintaining / defending that colony 3) Reputational Damage Let's deal with these one by ...


8

The absolute density (how much a given volume of the substance weighs) of mercury is 13593 kilograms per cubic meter. This can also be stated as 13.56 grams per cubic centimeter (by definition, the density of a substance in $kg/m^3$ is 1000 times the density in $g/cm^3$) Source If bursting flames in a city is not smart, even not smarter is loading your ...


7

Blockchains only make sense when you need to ensure the integrity of, well, a chain. In the most general case, the way a blockchain works is that each block contains a data payload, and a verification hash, which is a fixed-size summary of The payload of this block, and The entirety of the preceding block. Because the hash of the preceding block was based ...


7

Flak is still valid The whole point of flak is that you don't need to hit something. All you need to do is shoot in front of the plane and it flies into a cloud of high speed metal fragments. If you look at the Russian BUK anti aircraft missiles such as the one that shot down flight MH17, it's design to explode near the aircraft and spray fragments leaving ...


6

Sheer Size. Steam engines simply do not work at a small scale. You can get big, beefy engines that pull heavy loads, but if you try to shrink them down too small, you get the this bit of the magic too close to the that bit of the magic and the warding scheme can't hold and the entire thing explodes.


6

There are no rubber trees in your world. Tires are metal or wood. Nothing else is possible with the materials on hand. Metal wheels must stay on reinforced tracks. Taking metal wheels on cobblestones or dirt roads tears up the roads and renders them unusable. Metal wheels have a difficult time stopping on wet or frosty cobblestones. Therefore, metal wheels ...


6

In practice, the reason they don't use blockchain is the same reason they don't use vacuum tubes. By the time you're thinking in terms of military spaceships, blockchain will be some forgotten old reference only of interest to those studying the history of computing. Be very careful putting fine detail on the cutting edge of present technology in a future ...


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