jwenting
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Bare Minimum Tech for Spaceworthy Vessel
Accepted answer
20 votes

About the minimum you'd need is what the Germans had available to them during WW2. Their A4/V2 rocket was nominally capable of reaching space (though not of orbiting) and they were working on designs ...

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Dirigibles: Feasibility as (Effective) Aircraft Carriers
14 votes

Another massive problem, apart from speed and vulnerability already mentioned (which are shared by ships acting as aircraft carriers to a large degree) is landing aircraft on the bloody thing. Both ...

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Could communism become a strong alternative to capitalism in the future?
13 votes

re note 1: true communism would be anarcho communism. A state automatically creates a ruling elite, which is anathema to communist theory. re note 2: realistic communism always ends up in dictatorship....

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What is the difference of population density between the population of a nomadic and a sendentary territory?
11 votes

And are both areas filled to capacity with humans? Do they have draft animals to pull farm equipment and carts of produce? There are many factors to consider. As a rough estimate, take a roughly self-...

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Is it necessary to wipe out vile man-eating dragons?
9 votes

So the dragons are effectively very similar to the smallpox virus. The world's a far better place since smallpox was eradicated. Or Ebola. It doesn't flare up frequently, but when it does it ...

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How much stuff could we get into Earth orbit for the start-up cost of initiating asteroid mining?
8 votes

When will it be economical to harvest the resources you need in space rather than lift them from the surface? Well, that of course depends on several factors: The cost per kilo of lifting the ...

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SEAL Team Six versus Mages
8 votes

in other words the mages are invincible (they can revive each other at will), innumerable (they can create copies of themselves as well as armies of minions at will), unblockable (they can go anywhere)...

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What is the steepest gradient that a canal can be traversable without locks?
7 votes

The gradient should be 0, UNLESS the high end of the canal has a flow rate high enough to compensate for the amount of water being drained from it by the canal into the low end. Which for any decent ...

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How could a plague that killed off the dinosaurs come back?
7 votes

If we accept the panspermia theory, that life evolved somewhere else and was brought to earth in some way, possibly in meteoric ice for example, we have our vector. The pathogen that killed the ...

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How to keep a military technology secret while using it?
7 votes

Don't use it in places where the enemy may gain access to the device. This is pretty much standard procedure where feasible. For example the first Meteor jets the Brits built during WW2 (yes, the ...

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Naval cannons vs ships made of magic wood
Accepted answer
6 votes

There are 2 main ways for cannon shot to damage a ship's hull. The first is to make a hole in it, causing potential flooding as well as sending shrapnel into the interior of the ship. Second is to ...

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Planetary neighbors
6 votes

It would depend on the distance to the planet, the composition of its atmosphere, their technology level, and our own. Translated to our solar system, if they were on Venus we'd never know about them ...

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How quickly would society be able to transform into utopia if everyone worked together?
6 votes

whose utopia? That of the sun loving, beach going, party animal or that of the obsessed snow boarder who likes the peace and quiet of a mountain cabin in winter? Or anything in between. One person's ...

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What geotechnical conditions would force the use of crypts or catacombs for burial (vs. sticking coffins in the ground)?
6 votes

In parts of Spain (and no doubt elsewhere) people perform above ground burials because the ground is too hard to dig in without heavy machinery. Using power tools like pneumatic hammers graves can be ...

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In a world of magic, why would cities still find high walls useful?
6 votes

You ALWAYS have to define and restrict your magic. If you don't, there's nothing a magician can't do, and the story falls apart at the seams. So imagine magic only working on organic material, and ...

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Does ice have to be on both poles?
4 votes

If the planet's rotational axis is rotated enough (think Uranus, which is spinning on its side), sure. You'd effectively have a tidally locked planet spinning with one pole always facing the star, the ...

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Would life be possible on a planet with an eternal day and night?
4 votes

Such bodies tend to not be very hospitable to life. The dark side will get extremely cold, the light side extremely hot. If there is an atmosphere this is somewhat alleviated by the heat being ...

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How can a person Insulate copper wire in a medieval world?
4 votes

Not mentioned yet, but leather is also a good insulator. So there are plenty of options, most likely you'd want a combination of them for optimal effect of course, and to reduce the mess (resin gets ...

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Is an hour-long weekly driving ban feasible in modern America?
4 votes

Legally, the government of a country can do pretty much as it pleases as long as it can defend its decisions in a constitutional court and what manner of parliament is available. In the US, an ...

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Long Range Big Guns: An extreme bombardment ship
4 votes

By WW2 technology had progressed to where very large guns were no longer considered the way to go, so by your own statement that that's the level of technology your ship would be obsolete by the time ...

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Really big sharks
4 votes

The main problem isn't the theoretical maximum size of the animal (as hinted already, that can be achieved in earth gravity). It's keeping the animal in food. A blue whale is a slow filter feeder, ...

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Why have my intelligent pigeons not taken over the continent?
3 votes

Same reason my intelligent dolphins haven't: they're not interested. Taking over the world is a lot of hard work, they'd rather just hang out and have fun. And yes, that's a very Hitchhiker's Guide to ...

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Why would currency retain value even after the kingdom that originally minted them is now gone
3 votes

The coins hold their value because they have intrinsic value, the value of the material they're made out of. Unlike current fiat currencies in our world, that's how currency got its value originally. ...

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How will law be enforced if violence becomes impossible?
3 votes

Effectively this has been played out many times over the centuries. Religions often state something like "love your brother like yourself", "do no harm to other people", etc. etc.. People tend to ...

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How can I alter humans to allow them the ability to choose the sex of their child in the ancient world?
3 votes

In the animal kingdom, some species of reptiles, amphibians, and I think fish can do this by influencing the temperature of the environment in which their eggs develop. Another possibility might be ...

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Logical reason why my dystopian government exiles rebels instead of killing them?
3 votes

Heinlein created a universe where the USA did something like that. You could get exiled to a special region for people who could not be reconditioned into civilised citizens (iow citizens who are ...

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Randomised bank accounts
3 votes

People will no longer trust banks, money becomes useless as a means of paying for goods and services as it has no value. People fall back to systems of barter for services and goods. Maybe some will ...

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Can industry work on a poor import schedule?
3 votes

You have several problems here. unreliable supply situation long transit times for supplies The two are related but cause different problems within your manufacturing process. The unreliable ...

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Can you impale someone with a spine?
3 votes

The spine is not a single bone, even if you could rip it out of your first victim you'd end up with a floppy piece of sinew and tendons with some bits and pieces of bone in the mix. Even were that ...

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Could aliens see in other wavelengths?
3 votes

Certainly. Dogs "see" in high detail with their noses. Bats and owls "see" with their ears. Sharks and fish have lateral lines that respond to tiny electric field changes in water and can paint a ...

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