138 votes

"Slow" teleportation

Perpetum mobile Other answers aside, you could for example modify a hydroelectric power plant by placing an "input" portal below the turbines and an "output" portal above. Hey, infinite energy!
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  • 5,331
138 votes
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How could pirates reasonably transport dinosaurs in captivity, some of them enormous, across oceans?

In eggs As in, a fertile dinosaur egg, not the adult. Moving livestock is always tricky, even more so when said livestock is composed of strong and dangerous creatures, which have a tendency to die ...
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120 votes
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Why do the aliens buy Earth whiskey instead of just downloading the copy and creating it themselves?

Status symbol. Plain and simple. Doing a carbon copy is easy and cheap. But if you can afford the original one it means you have a huge load of moneys at your disposal. And those moneys are no good ...
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  • 244k
118 votes

An infinite train circling the planet that never stops

A similar concept has been mentioned in other answers, but one way to make a train like this viable would be to have pods at stations that "dock" with the main train rather than many trains running at ...
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  • 923
105 votes
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"Slow" teleportation

Some uses that came to my mind: Use it as garbage disposal. Just push it to an offline portal. Especially useful for radioactive nuclear waste for example. Use it as a time travel device to the ...
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  • 1,135
96 votes
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Reasons why air travel isn't feasible, but ground travel is?

I'm looking for plausible reasons or obstacles that would help explain why traditional jet/rocket/prop-based air travel is not practical Killer pigeons. Well, not exactly your ordinary columba livia ...
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96 votes

Would it be feasible to have a wolf as a mount?

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 ...
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84 votes
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An infinite train circling the planet that never stops

While hopping on one moving train seems reasonable for a healthy young adult, hopping two hundred seems a little excessive and dangerous... Also I would imagine that most people going on a long ...
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  • 10.6k
81 votes
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If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Firstly, shipping is generally more efficient for bulk cargoes - such as coal, lumber, ore, etc. (assuming you are using a similar technology to power both the ships and trains - i.e. both steam, or ...
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  • 5,966
80 votes

Why would a civilization that has invented teleportation use other means of transportation?

Entertainment There are days when absolutely nothing will make you happy other than the sound of a Harley Davidson motorcycle polluting the atmosphere in style. To Impress People One of my ...
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  • 91.5k
78 votes

"Slow" teleportation

You have solved food preservation Who needs a clunky old refrigerator that only slows the rotting and decay of fresh food? Just make it so your food doesn't experience time! Meet the new tele-...
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78 votes
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A road system with no traffic rules - what sort of vehicle is best?

Horses They are smart enough to not crash themselves on others, even if their riders are completely drunk.
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75 votes
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Why would space traders pick up and offload their goods from an orbiting platform rather than direct to the planet?

Other answers have already covered the fact that surface-to-orbit travel is energetically unfavorable (and therefore expensive and awkward) and that making a ship that can operate in an atmosphere as ...
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73 votes
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What makes trading cities rich?

The short answer is trade. The larger answer is that the act of trading develops and requires a range of secondary and tertiary activities which are themselves economically significant. Consider, ...
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68 votes
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What methods of transportation could be used to get ground vehicles onto an island surrounded by sharp rocks in shallow water?

Some helicopters are able to transport ground vehicles. Check out the weird Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe: And this is how it is used: You may also be interested in the Boeing CH-47D Chinook: Or maybe try ...
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67 votes

"Slow" teleportation

Congratulations! You just made container ships obsolete! Container ship is the tool of transport when talking about bulk transport: Even if you ship goods at relatively slow speed of railway ...
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65 votes

Sailing without wind, but with strong currents

You can't control your direction in a sailboat when there is just one current. Sailboats are only able to move into a different direction than the wind is blowing because they have a "second sail" ...
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64 votes

How to explain that there can only be one magic portal between a planet and another

Make your portals (to borrow a term from physics) 'magnetic'. In other words, two magic portals that are too close to each other in space will attract each other and merge into a single portal, and ...
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  • 7,233
61 votes

Why do the aliens buy Earth whiskey instead of just downloading the copy and creating it themselves?

This is the basis for the real world economic theory of Comparative Advantage. The aliens can produce any of a large number of products with their industrial capacity. Similarly, Earth can use its ...
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  • 1,991
58 votes
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Efficient way to transport a Stargate

Rockets Rockets are the fastest means of acceleration we have but it's just not efficient but for a stargate, this isn't a problem as you can open the gate to refuel. You effectively build the ...
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  • 43.5k
58 votes
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How can sapient beings engineer transportation and building when they can only count 0, 1 and many?

As far as you want. Humans have trouble conceptualising large numbers. We can’t count them, so above a certain point we see the number ‘178654’ and our brains turn it into ‘many’. Doesn’t change the ...
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  • 65.6k
58 votes

Why would space traders pick up and offload their goods from an orbiting platform rather than direct to the planet?

Building a "realistic" spaceship that can land on a planet and take off again, carrying significant cargo, and without dumping lots of radioactivity into the planet's atmosphere, is actually ...
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  • 19.7k
57 votes
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Why would a modern city with a warm climate have a skyway system?

Reasons: Skyways can be airconditioned and so cooler Skyways can be sheltered from rain and so more pleasant Skyways are safer than walking on the streets, where the cars are; separation of cars and ...
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  • 21.9k
55 votes
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In a world without any beasts of burden, what alternatives for transport are there?

You are kind of answering your own question. Human labor is the only possibility you did not exclude by your world setting. Historically we have been using either machines, animals or manual labor ...
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54 votes
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What is the steepest gradient that a canal can be traversable without locks?

A canal with a gradient and a flow is a river. And navigatable rivers are pretty much flat. Taking a nearby river (the Medway) and measuring the change in height from the coast to the point at which ...
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  • 10.5k
53 votes
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What kind of land transportation can be used for plowing through hordes of zombies?

Frankly, I would not bother with cars or trucks. Use a train! Any large diesel engine, or several combined, with a snow plow up front. As a bonus, you can add waggons for any goods you may want ...
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  • 12.4k
53 votes

A road system with no traffic rules - what sort of vehicle is best?

While the scenario painted may seem quite bizarre and downright deadly, the fact of the matter is, minimal traffic regulation does not necessarily mean you need to drive an Challenger 2 Tank just to ...
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  • 37k
51 votes

What is the viability of trains on planets covered in water?

from wikipedia: "About 71% of Earth's surface is covered with water, mostly by oceans." So take away a couple of continents, and you have 85%. If only Europe existed, that would mean roughly 98% of ...
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  • 4,711
49 votes
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How to safely derail a train during transit?

The Fast and the Furiously Crazy Since you've eliminated the sensible solution (bypasses or double tracks), let's go with an insane one! All your trains have rail tracks running on top of them and ...
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  • 22.1k
47 votes

If I build a railroad around the edge of a supercontinent, will that kill the oceangoing shipping industry?

Will the railroad kill ocean shipping? No, it won't We have a real-world ready-made example showing that ocean shipping and rail shipping can coexist and complement each other. As it happens, we do ...
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