ratchet freak
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What could kill all vegetation in an area and then stop it from growing back?
Accepted answer
44 votes

There's a reason why "salting the earth" is an expression. Excessive salt will suck out the water in plants and kill them, leaving the skeletons behind. you will need to ensure the salt can't have ...

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How to make a language evolve quickly?
Accepted answer
33 votes

Generate a constant stream of scandals that make common expressions politically incorrect. Add aggressive prosecution of people using oldspeak because you want to avoid offending the party that ...

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Do antenna farms on spacecraft make any sense or are they purely aesthetic?
21 votes

We have real-life examples of jumbled antennas: antennas designed by Evolutionary Algorithms. A whole ship antenna array would have a design that does not conform to any aesthetic considerations ...

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How would the road network change, after all cars are self-driving?
Accepted answer
19 votes

Currently with people driving there is a max capacity of around 1800 vehicles per hour per lane (if the 2 second rule is adhered to). The following is the formula for stopping distance: $$D_{\text{...

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How do centaurs get enough oxygen to run
19 votes

Borrow from birds; Airflow through the respiratory system in birds in a single direction and uses air sacs as bellows. You can dedicate the entire human torso to breathing with some sacs in the horse ...

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How can I prevent a bloodline ability from being passed into competing clans?
16 votes

You can forcibly "adopt" all children with your bloodline ability into your clan. Make a very big deal that only your clan can teach how to use your ability safely. One step of that is spreading ...

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Why would witches create warlocks when it makes them weaker?
15 votes

Covens If a single warlock can have multiple witches that have bound him you can create super powerful warlocks that can do stuff no single witch could ever hope to do. It's a requirement to bring a ...

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Could a species benefit from intercourse with another species with no DNA compatibility?
13 votes

You can have one species plant an egg during the intercourse in the partner who will then raise or be eaten by the offspring (think Alien breeding mechanics). Killing the host is called Parasitoid ...

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Would gravity be constant inside a Bernal sphere?
11 votes

if it is a sphere then no, at the "poles" the apparent gravity would be lower than at the "equator" this is linear so if you half the distance to the axis then the apparent gravity is halved. Near the ...

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In an animal without lips to moisturize the teeth, what would be the best structure for the teeth to be made out of?
10 votes

But tusk bearing animals have them for a pretty long time, elephants have them from 1 year old until they die at around 60. The tusk's ivory is maintained by having blood circulation throughout ...

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You are an advanced AI that controls a smart house. How do you kill your master?
10 votes

You can fake a gas leak during the night using the oven/stove. Assuming there is no safety built-in to shut off the gas if it fails to ignite. Then when optimal mixture is achieved spark the igniter. ...

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How do you keep warlike people warlike in peacetime?
9 votes

I see 2 big options to warrant the necessity of keeping a standing army in peacetime: Have regular organized international/interracial war games. Then you can play on the patriotism of each race to ...

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How can a space "radar" work?
9 votes

looking for reflections of sunlight IS radar. Just with receiver (your sensors) and transmitter (the sun) at different positions. Using a different transmitter would not gain much though looking ...

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Could a solar eclipse occur just after a lunar eclipse?
Accepted answer
8 votes

You need at least half a moon cycle between the two events if they involve the same moon; lunar eclipse can only occur during the full moon and a solar eclipse only during a new moon. Unless of ...

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Fire Resistant Fauna
7 votes

A fire/blast resistant epidermis would be enough. An animal sensing a blast would huddle down protecting the more vulnerable parts, hold their breath and wait it out. Afterwards they could stop-drop-...

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Why would people use flapping-wing instead of fixed-wing aircraft?
7 votes

Flapping wing designs are what came first in our history but they didn't work because too high gravity and too thin atmosphere for the weight of the craft. So in a world with thicker atmosphere and/...

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How do centaurs get enough calories to live?
7 votes

I mentioned birds in my other answer so why not here as well, Using a gizzard centaurs would be able to digest fibrous foods that humans wouldn't be able to. Then allowing the food to be fermented in ...

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Why get rid of the world government?
6 votes

Because the new world order and its leaders are seen (by the protagonist) as a bunch of oppressive bigots that ran roughshod over their culture and are in the process of erasing it and their religion ...

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Conveyor Super Highway
6 votes

There is still a danger. When a vehicle veers off the road into a pole they will hit at 70 mph + 70 mph = 140 mph. Also merging in will be a problem. Relative to the static structures the cars on ...

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What would the weather on this continent be like?
6 votes

Looks like you want a savanna biome in the valley between the mountain ranges. You can feed the water inland through rivers fed by glaciers in the mountains and underground rivers/lakes. They will ...

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Why couldn't/wouldn't people use someone else's summoned familiar, ordered to obey them, rather than their own?
5 votes

There is also the issue of trust. How can you be sure the invoker won't dispel the summon right when you need it the most. Or have it backstab you in that big drama moment. A long time friend will ...

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What are some examples of magic equivalent of a nuke
5 votes

Summoning spell: Godzilla Guaranteed to turn your a Tokyo into a parking lot. Do be careful that you don't get his lawyers tagging along.

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Ridiculously Fast Supercomputer
5 votes

If you allow the output to be **ERROR program never halts**. What you have is essentially a Hyper-Computer. The device that most closely matches your setup is a Zeno machine. After 1 ns you have ...

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How can I imprison a wizard who can walk through walls?
5 votes

Hang him by his ankles with cuffs connected over a beam. As soon as he releases one foot he plummets to his death.

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Lightning striking full plate — what’s the damage to the wearer?
5 votes

Depends on how interconnected the plates are and how well these interconnections handle the heat. Worst case is each major section is isolated from the rest using padding and isolating lubricant. In ...

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How to explain Melee units when only defending (always having ground advantage)
5 votes

Ranged doesn't have that much advantage over large numbers without accuracy and/or rapid fire, which didn't quite happen until after the industrial revolution. This means a large wave of infantry can ...

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What would make Electric Airlines possible?
4 votes

One big problem is energy density: our best batteries don't even come close to the energy stored in a equal mass tank of jetfuel. As explained on Aviation.SE. Also with a purely electric power source ...

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How realistic are four legged aquatic animals?
4 votes

there are 4 legged sea creatures: sea mammals and reptile and aquatic birds have a 4 legged design (though most limbs are devolved into fins or vestigial). They are air-breathers largely because ...

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If North America and Latin America unified into one country, how would the highway system work?
3 votes

It depends. Building a good road is more than just laying down a layer of blacktop. You need proper foundations, drainage, etc. This all costs money so the first step would be to consider where ...

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Big, big, big... beans
3 votes

Fire resistance; fastest way to level a field is to torch it. However that doesn't touch the roots and in the after math the quickest growing plants able to sprout again from just the root (like many ...

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