The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

# Tag Info

49

Sure. It's even possible to be very familiar with violence and not be good at warfare; think about the difference between a warrior and a soldier (current US military propaganda notwithstanding): a warrior is an individual. A soldier, by definition, is one element of a fighting group. Being good at one doesn't automatically mean being any good at the other. ...

29

They evolved with "Us against the Environment" (which requires cooperation and technology), not "Us against Them" (which requires warfare) Evolution of intelligence (and hence technological advancement) Many theories of the evolution of intelligence (in humans and animals) rely on a machiavellian drive. For example if a species has complex social ...

20

Clueless? No. Even herbivores are deadly when threatened. The law of nature is a dog-eat-dog world, without that kind of pressure, evolution is impossible. At best, a species may be able to get away with hiding, but once a species develop intelligence, they start requiring things which can't be hidden, like smoke from fire. Pacifism is a luxury of those ...

14

As many people have noted, you need "the tools to make the tools", and the "book" you really need is "The Way things Work" and a lot of additional technical manuals. However, what might really be needed is not a technical library at all, but a book on economics. In the First century AD, Hero of Alexandria wrote a book on mechanisms which describe what we ...

13

Fighters aren't even a realistic evolution of current naval warfare. It'll all be drones as soon as is practical, and when someone works out an effective laser anti-aircraft system, it'll be back to battleships again. However, the more I think about it, you’d want to take out your enemy’s missile launchers, Warfare in space is likely to involve ...

10

For a technological advance one must have 1: Population density. This is a proxy for having (by luck) a person smart and clever enough to quarterback the innovations. I suspect that this was the limiting factor for many millennia. 2: Food availability. If your entire populace spends all of its waking hours trying hard to get fed, it is hard to expect ...

10

Leather. Image source: http://tarasauvage.com/wordpress1/a-fireman-fire-hose-the-inspirational-story-of-ignition-supply-co/ Leather fire hoses were invented in the 1600s. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_hose These were as strong as their seams, and were even stronger once rivets were used instead of sewn seams. You could wrap a leather hose with ...

9

Maybe there isn't a good reason to fund mecha. It depends on the organization of your society. For example, one could argue that Knights were a bit dumb in some cases, as an investment. From a practicality point of view, instead of taking one guy, giving him incredible equipment, and a lifetime of training, it might be better to arm and train a bunch of ...

9

The supercolony. Consider the Argentine ant. In its native lands, different ant colonies fight each other. But in the course of invading new lands, this ant has formed a supercolony. It is something different. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_ant According to research published in Insectes Sociaux in 2009, it was discovered that ants from ...

8

Think about experience. Imagine a society with generations of pacifism. They have no generals. They have no weapons or battleships. They might understand the concepts of waging war, but it will still take many many years for them to train generals, or build the infrastructure necessary to create weapons of war. How long do you think it takes to train a ...

8

This was a comment at first but I've decided to turn it into a full-blown answer. You suggested evolutionary path is as follows: Space warfare consists of two fleets of ships lobbing missiles at each other The fleets would develop and deploy bombers to fly in close and take out the other fleet's missile launchers The fleets would in turn develop fighters ...

7

You can't you need Billions of people. Modern living requires some extreme specialization, we have people who went to school to design MRI machines, a highly specialized machine made of specialized materials and only worked by highly specialized workers. That is just one cog in hte giant puzzle that is modern civilization. You need to have enough people ...

7

Gene editing, MAD, and socialization If they have advanced spacefaring technology long before they encountered another intelligent species, they may have almost completely conditioned themselves against war and war like thinking. To make it more believable perhaps they have engaged in large scale gene editing to make violence very difficult. possibly ...

7

The principle problem with your idea is one of focus, I'd say. The smallest spot size your microwave weapon could be focussed on is limited by diffraction. The size of that spot is defined as $$R_T \approx \frac{0.305 D \lambda}{R_L}$$ where $R_T$ is the radius of the spot at the target, $D$ is the distance to the target, $\lambda$ is the wavelength of ...

6

The answer is mixed and tied to various options. Is there a reason to cover the holds? Ships come in both types, open and closed. Generally open holds are only used on coastal and inland waterways, closed holds for anything long distance where the risk of storms swamping a ship is higher. Is there a reason to have large numbers of crew on deck? In the age ...

6

Large domes would have been possible to construct during this period. In fact very large domes were constructed much earlier. The dome in the Pantheon in Rome was built around 126CE and is a free standing dome 43m across and 43m high. It would be impossible to have any significant glazing on such a dome as the art of glass making would not have been ...

5

You don't neccessarily need them to be completly void of war in their history for them to be really bad at modern war. They may have fought wars in their past, but that was 4000 years ago when they were in the technological equivalent of roman or maybe renaissance technology. And due to (poltical development/religion/different evolutionary psychology, etc.)...

5

The Montgolfier brothers, for their first demonstration, used simple materials To make a public demonstration and to claim its invention the brothers constructed a globe-shaped balloon of sackcloth tightened with three thin layers of paper inside. Sackcloth is made of hessian fabric, which, like paper, wasn't known in those times in the roman empire. ...

5

I'm pretty sure the intestines of an animal would meet the requirements as described in the question, if properly treated. But I don't think they'd last for very long with steam being pumped through them, and I wouldn't want to be in the same room. Also, in the comments it sounds like you're trying to power some kind of steam engine, for which purpose the ...

5

No way. Not enough satellites to do that. I think the biggest barrier to this is the number of satellites required to do this. It also depends upon the kind of resolution you'd be looking for. If we're talking about Google Maps full-zoom level of detail of the entire planet, you'd need a number of satellites that can't possibly exist in the time since they'...

4

There's several factors that will come into play, but they all fall under one standard heading. I of course, am a fan of the less-standard heading put forth in the wonderful webcomic, Schlock Mercenary: If I have pissed further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants. Obviously the books are what you intend to use to stand on ...

4

No With all due respect to any answer that suggests yes, nobody's thinking about what it takes to move mass around in space. Even when orbiting a planet, you really don't have the benefit of gravity to reduce your fuel costs — and that assumes you're moving slow enough for two ships to engage with piloted (in any form) fighters. The Ugly Details ...

4

The difference between a fighter and a missile/drone is the missile/drone doesn't have to worry about the squishy human and their life support system taking up mass and volume and limiting manoeuvring to magnitudes humans can survive. That allows the drone to be more manoeuvrable and smaller than an equivalent fighter or bomber attempting to do the same ...

3

I don't think it can be done with only 10,000. My professor asked that as a Dyson question one day when a bunch of us were kibitzing in his office. (I swear I learned more science in the hallway than in the classroom) The number we came up with at the time (40 years ago) was somewhere between 100 million and a billion people. Make a list of the various ...

3

For the sake of variety I will pursue an argument about game-theory and not biology/psychology. From an engineering standpoint it would have a very odd advanced civilisation to not be able to apply economies of scale and logistics to prepare properly for warfare. That being said I think it is indeed plausible to lack experience in actual wartime strategy ...

3

Other answers have addressed conflict and battle, but these are not war. It's reasonable for a society to have experienced violence and conflict without having to go through the trauma of regearing their society for total warfare. Their ships are not unarmed, their soldiers not untrained. They have had border skirmishes, they have encountered pirates and ...

3

Rubber was discovered in 1770 and has a melting point of 180 C. Its true that the working of rubber into useful shapes didn't come until ~100 years later, but it was there.

3

Yes it's feasible, but microwave weapons have some serious drawbacks. This is why they are only now being deployed with extreme caution on the real world. One, they only work against electronics (and even those can be hardened. If your target is entirely optronic, photonic or whatever - ie not using electricity -- you have no effect. Two, the effects are ...

3

There aren't really any RL examples of entirely-bottom-up for-the-blind social media tech, however there are examples of attempts at creating platforms analogous to mainstream ones specifically for blind users. They tend to get outcompeted heavily by mainstream options, and are mostly similar in style with a preference for plaintext and light-weight, ...

3

They will see the missiles coming no matter what. Your giant laser ships have a giant laser that they are not doing very much with. They have a lot of empty space. They can power the laser down, broaden the beam and swing it around and around, lighting up the emptiness with the laser. As the beam scatters with distance, it will remain effective at ...

Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible