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  • 9
    $\begingroup$ For anyone who only reads the comments, the answer sandbox now exists. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ See Sandbox Overflow for discussion of this sandbox. The current proposal is that after you've posted your question, edit in the link (as people are already doing) and then delete the answer here to make it easier for people to review still-active ones. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 13:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I know this is in the FAQ, but please, everyone, add your posted questions to the community wiki answer containing the list. Nobody likes having to hung them down. Actually, I'll add another plea for people to read the Sandbox FAQ. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh How much you wanna bet that someone's still going to post their question here? $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this sandbox is no longer active, and closing it will prevent people using it. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtOfCode I'm trying to get HDE to close as a duplicate, but yeah, as long as someone closes it for something that's fine $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ So, since my absence in the last two-three month this sandbox had been rendered inactive, and I still have a question in this draft, not graduated. Should I edit it here or should I posted the revised version in the new sandbox instead? Thanks in advance! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 19:00

44 Answers 44


In accordance with http://meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/1728/sandbox-overflow, many answers containing now-graduated questions have been deleted. This is designed to be a repository for all those questions that have graduated. It is a community wiki answer, so add in your question here, at the end of the list once it is posted on the main site!

  1. Believable magical transmutation of elements
  2. How could a human learn to talk to "apes" (like from Planet of the Apes)?
  3. Could a Species Use Tools (and Build a Civilization) Without Thumbs?
  4. Underground life on Mars
  5. What methods of transportation would develop in a Stone Age society in a forest world?
  6. The social implications of Life as currency
  7. Developing Factions - Secret Societies
  8. How can a world with constantly-moving nomads form?
  9. How do you layer history?
  10. Does an expansionist, monotheistic religion require a central prophetic figure?
  11. How to explain the co-existence of peace and violence in religion
  12. Plausible explanation for lack of reflection in a mirror
  13. Cohabitation with large creatures
  14. Keeping people illiterate
  15. How to effectively deliver a flu virus that destroys the brains ability to absorb serotonin?
  16. In a post-apocalyptic world, would plastic be more useful than metal as currency?
  17. Planetary defense
  18. How fuel-efficient are airships?
  19. How can I create a poison that kills a person after a specific amount of time, and is treatable by an antidote?
  20. In a post-apocalyptic world, would plastic be more useful than metal as currency?
  21. Hiding own space program
  22. Opening the Windows, In Space
  23. How to make plasma manipulation powers, on equal power with phases of matter, without material generation powers?
  24. Buying Jupiter for the price of a space station
  25. Suspended animation vs. regular animation aboard a spaceship
  26. The end of torture? (Due to Omnipotence or International Legislation...)
  27. How would an earth-like planet with a habitable moon work and how to get there?
  28. How to get a Female Archbishop of Canterbury of the 1950s Anglican Church?
  29. A planet with changing gravity?
  30. Witnessing the death of a star that would go supernova
  31. Moving people from a dying planet onto the moons of a gas giant
  32. Preparation for Lycanthropic Transformation
  33. Single Resource Cities - Economy
  34. Mathematical Magic - Solving the Traveling Wizard Problem
  35. https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/7092 (Deleted)
  36. How do I create a popular and fictional team-sport?
  37. The Magical British Government: At War
  38. How would an earth-like planet with a habitable moon work and how to get there?
  39. Death to humans by deadly monsters
  40. Size of a medieval/fantasy trading port
  41. https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/15008
  42. Time no longer passes except near intelligent creatures, how does the world continue?
  43. What would the climate be like on an earth-like planet with only one convection cell per hemisphere?
  44. Aircraft and Rockets on a Magical Super-Earth
  45. The Simplest Energy Beings
  46. Cheapest way to fake the Mars landing
  47. Religion After the Discovery of a Multiverse
  48. OK, I cannot fake the Mars landing. Can I fake Martians?
  49. Earth approached by ugly aliens
  50. Message in the clouds - how do people react?
  51. Trading valuable resources
  52. How can I successfully prove magical link?
  53. Creating a realistic world map - Mineralogy
  54. How would paleolithic combat work in a world where you have instant, and permanent mastery when you hold any tool?
  55. How can I convince skeptical rationalists that afterlife is for real and needs to be striven for?
  56. How would a human livestock facility run by aliens operate?
  57. How long can Joe go without liquid water?
  58. Industry and Threat in 1850s
  59. Concealing my earth-changing invention
  60. Paranoid car for paranoid person
  61. My earth changing invention: How can I hire the people I need?
  62. Best way to reveal your group of magic users
  63. Social effect of pill which defers need to sleep
  64. If I reveal my Earth changing invention suddenly will the Energy, Material or Food sectors last longest?
  65. What happened when my scientist drilled a hole through Europa's "crust"?
  66. Are there any real-world ingested poisons with these characteristics?
  67. Magical internet - unique addressing system
  68. Can a super-governmental military body like this work?
  69. What would be the major weather patterns on this map?
  70. Calculating Time Dilation Effects on Relativistic Accelerations
  71. Would ablation be an effective way to redirect objects in space?
  72. What is the best way to classify Intelligence in a world full of various Intellects?
  73. Help me evolve a "Boar Troll"
  74. What would be the most important consequence of decreasing sexual dimorphism in humans?
  75. Dealing With Dragonslayers
  76. Building an Ethics Framework for use of Uploaded Personalities
  77. Can time travel make us rich through trading, and is this a problem?
  78. Reasons to pack weapons on interstellar mission?
  79. Symbolics of Cargo Cult after 1000 years
  80. How to realistically create a bow that's also two one-handed swords?
  81. How would a command structure and strategy for a galactic war be organized?
  82. Using only molecules found in humans: How close can I come to creating a wolf?
  83. How can asymmetrically powerful states be balanced? (AKA why don't legendary heroes rule the world)
  84. What would be the most plausible way to arrive at a functional and sustainable theocracy that preserves certain democratic institutions with limits?
  85. Would these changes to humanity due to genetic memory help technology develop more quickly or slowly than our world?
  86. How could cats evolve toxic claws?
  87. How could an army defend itself against mass robo-snake attacks?
  88. What's the best way for a Democratic Government to make people “disappear” without being noticed?
  89. How could chocolate bunnies evolve?
  90. What giant insects would fill the role of our domesticated cattle?
  91. Has the government done enough to re-integrate formerly demonically possessed people back into society?
  92. Humanity’s first effort at moving a planet

I'm going to follow this suggestion and ask my question here first, to see if you find it on topic, or not too broad.

How would my magic system affect the economy, commerce and security of my fictional country?

First of all, I will describe my magic system:

It's a Sense based magic, with two components: the energy source - an unobtainium material called Spark - and a sensory trigger. The trigger depends on the effect you want to cause, and has to stimulate a sense in a special way to "activate" the magic.

Every sense is divided in 3 Ranks. The ability to use these is not "hereditary" or "fixed", though gene pool helps. Is more like a trained art, like having a good ear for music, or learning to wine taste. So almost anyone can improve their rank, given enough effort. The difference between ranks is not arbitrary, there is a hard limit, something that "clicks" when you surpass it.

  1. The most basic Rank is very extended among the population, almost everyone has Rank 1 in several senses. Those can use the "Spark" as is, without a trigger, to just enhance the sense, and have a very poor energy efficiency, needing plenty of sensory activation and Spark just to get very minimal effects, almost all internal.
  2. Second Rank senses are not as extended, I don't have a specific % of people having it, but it would be like the ratio of people we have in our world that know how to play an instrument or sing, versus those that have no talent (as I am). A second rank Sense has a pretty good energy efficiency. While a Rank 1 could keep an effect a few minutes, given the same amount of energy and sense stimuli a Rank 2 could keep at it for an hour or two. With this rank, one can start to do pretty amazing things, like healing wounds, listening to other's thoughts or hurling flames to others.
  3. Rank 3 is rarely seen. It's the elite. That being said, those that attain Rank 3, rarely do so in a single sense. Using this Rank literally consumes the source of the stimuli. You don't lick something, you eat it. You smell something and it disappears into you. Your tact disintegrates what you touch, absorbing it into you. You have (kinda) laser eyes, absorbing whatever you see. This costs a lot of Spark, but it gives a lot of punch for so little buck. The things that these people can do is very extreme. Not only they have the advantage of being able to absorb things, some even at a distance, but the effects they can manage are exponentially higher.

Some examples: Someone with Rank 1 licking, touching or sniffing a tiny pebble of charcoal might increase her body temperature, keeping herself warm. Someone with Rank 2 might generate and control enough heat to keep herself warm for the whole night, or throw 3 or 4 tongues of heat. A Rank 3, consuming the charcoal, will have heat to use for hours, and (for example) melt the reinforced door of a bank, no issue.

Now that the magic system is explained, here comes my problem with it. As the vast majority have Rank 1 in most senses, it would not be uncommon to have specialized stores that dealt with their needs. I'm thinking of some little strips of different materials, scented, colored, textured... Regular people could go and buy themselves some charcoal stripes (to keep with the heat example) and keep themselves warm while on the exterior, kinda like magic hot pockets, or you could sell flowery scented ones for disease treatments, or emotional comfort (like magic aromatherapy).

The thing is, something so innocent as this can be very harmful if someone of Rank 3 just goes and buys some charcoal sticks and burns the Town Hall. In the other hand, is not hard to make some charcoal yourself.

This is not in our modern world, but in my fictional one. The society I'm working with is kinda Victorian / Steampunk-esque. Also, the country is at the verge of war, due to the lack of Spark. They use it not only for their magic but to power almost every machine, and they have dwindling resources. So it's pretty militarized already, people is losing their temper, desperate. Some parts of the cities are being shut down of the energy source (the poorest ones), and the country is already building up tension.

My doubts are: a) Would this kind of "sense shops" be viable? Are they too much of a security risk? b) Would you keep them open in this pre-war scenario? Put a special tax on the most dangerous materials maybe?

Well, it's too long... But it was kinda needed to give context to the question. Thank you for reading it, and I await confirmation (or not) that the question is good to go. Thanks!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this question is pretty good in how you've asked it, however the title sounds broader than the actual question is and doesn't really say much specific about the question. You should try and make the title match the question better. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 17:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think you should shorten it a little bit, I'm afraid but there are people who may be a bit scared of long questions. However, the way you've written it is very good and explains well the borders, so probably you may just post it the way you did here. Good question! $\endgroup$
    – Eithne
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 15:45

Society of a Multi-lifespan empire

So, within my setting, there are many different types of roughly humanoid people which are of various sizes, of various types, all created by a pantheon of gods, all united under one emperor, as equals.

One thing however, is that they all have varying lifespans, a dog person may be able to live to about 12 years old on average, while a turtle person can live upwards of a hundred years, with humans also being able to live a remarkable 80 years, then there could be those who are only able to live up to about 5 years, like the frog people.

So, that above is sort of the question that I want to go for, but I am very certain that such a question is too broad, so how do you think I should go around trimming such a question?

I am imagining that I can split it up into multiple questions, like what I have done previously, however, I am not sure how I should go and split this question this time

The question I want to ask is, how would working experience be valued or quantified? Suppose that you have a frog person boasting of 2 years of work experience, that would not be very impressive to humans and other longer living races, but this is a frog person that has worked for easily 40% of his life on a profession

Another thing might be about education and the adulthood, a human child today would study for 6 to 12 years from the age of 6, but that would be longer than many other race's lifespan. How would they then determine a syllabus or laws concerning underaged people, would it be so specific as to concern only any one race at a time? If that is the case, would all laws be different for each race because of this?

Suppose also that a kingdom wanted to mandate mandatory military training, how long should each person train for? They all live different lives, and it would be seen as tyrannical to be training for war for the entirety of your relatively short lifespan.

That then leads to a question about combat effectiveness. A human militia may drill for about 6 months, and then become reasonably proficient at marching around and holding a spear or poleaxe or pike in front of them, but that would be very long for shorter living races.

These are the kinds of questions I am trying to ask, and would wish to refine them here first

  • $\begingroup$ I am actually missing, what is the question. Like, how would such society work? Or...? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @PavelJanicek, what's the actual question being asked here? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @PavelJanicek My bad, let me go and elaborate more in the question $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB I have sort of elaborated more on the question, thanks for taking a look at it $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think there is an unwritten assumption here that may be making this question more difficult. The question seems to assume that regardless of lifespan each race is equally skilled/intelligent/etc. If you only live five years you are simply not going to be humanoid. It wouldn't have happened evolutionarily. A human is not even close to self sufficient let alone militarily skilled at age 5. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @James Thanks for catching that, I would imagine that, at least, in terms of physical capabilities, most races would be different from each other. However, aside from that, I would imagine that intelligence wise, most of these races would be around the same, unless I should not leave them as being the same $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ I think it would make more sense to split the questions: economy, military, education ... Otherwise you would make answering this very hard $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ I think you are going to have to expand your age expectations a bit for this to even makes sense. Maybe a frog person lives 25 years a dog person 40 years and cat people 100 years while humans average about 75. That I could buy off on, but a lifespan that is shorter than a human childhood makes it unrealistic that a species could develop human level intelligence...at best they would be sub-human intelligence and second class citizens. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ Who up votes a question in the sandbox? Just curious. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ Star Trek: Voyager had Kess, an alien with a lifespan of 6 human years. They mature and learn very quickly. There is also a famous story (book?) about creatures that live inside a star, and everything about them is super sped-up. So there is sci-fi precedent to your "short-lived humanoid species" idea. $\endgroup$
    – dmm
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan anyone that wants to. If you upvote you are saying you think the question is good to go to the main site $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Did you copy my idea or come up with this independently? I recently made a post on this exact idea. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 10:18

Will humans modify their own DNA?

In the future, I suppose our technological advancements will be so advanced that we will be able to fully understand our DNA. Thus would it be feasible if we would be able to create a custom human-like DNA and create offspring of our own desire?

This would mean humans can be born without any disease or defects. Mothers could also make their children look the way the wanted to. However, it may be possible for scientists to modify the genetic code so much that humans with flying wings attached to their back or human-animal hybrids similar to what you'd see in video games could be constructed.

Based on our current technological progression, how soon would a future like this happen? Will it ever go to the extreme for humans becoming characters from cartoons?

I would also presume that such technology would be very expensive and initially only the wealthy would be able to do this on their own children.

Sandbox Note

I'm not entirely sure if this question is enough to be put onto the main Worldbuilding site. My last question I posted here was a complete disaster so I do not wish to make the same mistakes again.

  • $\begingroup$ will it? would be opinion based, IMO. I’ve seen that in fiction, with cultures to match. when is asking a different question: when will we be able to make genomes from scratch, and if so will people do extreme things with it. Two different questions is a flaw. And when can change the answer to the second, as the farther out then the more cultual changes will occur too. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Re your note: excellent use of the Sandbox! I wish others will follow your example. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ So I can't make a question like this? I'm still confused as to what I need to do because I think I'm already generating a hate group towards me and I feel depressed. $\endgroup$
    – Bradman175
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry. Nobody hates you here. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's a little too broad at the moment, question asking about the future isn't really all that easy to answer as not all of us are professors that regularly read up on science papers and breakthroughs. It will be more feasible to ask something like "what advantages would genetically modifying the human body give?" As for the cartoon question, it's not very clear what you mean. Also don't get depressed over having poorly received questions, it's the Internet, no one gets what they want and I'm sure regulars of this site won't just go around down voting for no good reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ G'day, mate. This topic is receiving attention from scientists and philosophers. The technical capacity to do this is drawing closer. Read & listen to these 2 episodes of ABC RN's Future Tense abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/… and abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/crispr-two/… There are transcripts & podcasts for the episodes. You can pick up a few extra ideas and frame a clearer question or two. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ I think that your question may be too opinion based and difficult for world building to answer. The question 'Could humans ever be able to manipulate genomes?' or 'How could humans create designer babies' would probably be acceptable but I don't think we can give you a time period. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ "Based on our current technological progression, how soon would a future like this happen?" - This is impossible to answer. You're asking us to predict the future. "Will it ever go to the extreme for humans becoming characters from cartoons?" - I don't understand the question. Please clarify. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ Typically, science fiction revolves around "What if?" questions. If you want to write a story about what will happen if humans did, in fact, alter their own DNA, just go ahead and do that. Also, I can't imagine anyone answering "No" to that. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ Asking when it will happen is kind of a broad question, but you might narrow it down by asking about whether or not it will be "soon". Similarly, your question about how extreme such modifications might be could be narrowed down by giving a specific example. Keep in mind that a bunch of stuff depicted in media is just not mechanically plausible (such as wings growing from the back), so you might want to ask specific questions about the modifications you'd like to write about separately. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 22:05

What unique challenges would interstellar missionaries face?

In my story, a planet has been discovered orbiting Alpha Centauri B. By a strange coincidence - actually, despite incredible odds against - the planet is Earth-like and habitable. Furthermore, radio transmissions have been detected from the planet, and they seem to be the production of an intelligent species. They don't appear to have been intentionally broadcast, though.

For years, governments bicker about what to do. Private space enterprises are blocked from attempting a voyage, and after five years, Earth has not even sent anything like an attempt to start a conversation. That's bureaucracy for you.

A minor religion that is based off of a space opera-like story1 decided just after the discovery to send a ship with missionaries there. For five years they worked, and managed to build a ship that can get people to the planet in about ten years.

The ship leaves Earth, unbeknownst to anyone else. Earth never gets around to making contact after some alien scares pop up in the populace, and any related projects stall. The ship, however, continues on to its target.

Upon landing, what unique challenges will the missionaries face? By "unique", I rule out any challenges that any explorers would face or any missionaries would face. I'm talking about challenges that spring up when you stick missionaries on a planet around another star with absolutely no government backing or prior knowledge of the inhabitants of the planet, or much of the planet itself.

I actually posted this as https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/20514/what-unique-challenges-would-interstellar-missionaries-face, but I deleted it because I felt it was a little boring, and it just seemed to simple.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It seems like there should be some clarifications about the conditions on the planet as well as the actual aliens. I imagine without clarification the number of possible conditions they could encounter would make this question too broad. I just don't think this question works without any actual detail about the planet, and aliens. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 7:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fascinating premise, but really broad. There could be a whole host of reactions (just look at the life of Paul - everything from "You must be a God!" to "He's cutting into our profits - let's kill him!"). I think you need some details at least about tech level, current religion, governmental situation, and what the ethics/goals of the missionaries are. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 15:01

How would power generation be affected by gravity?

ie: all other things being equal, because the definition of Watt depends on gravity does all the formulas related to power generation depends on gravity? (pressure in boilers does, so turbines generates much less power in low gravity, and so on...)

Edit: How is it related to worldbuilding? Simple. If power generation is unaffected by gravity, but the amount of work required decrease, let's mine all the low-gravity asteroids first to get more bang out of our buck.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking a question about methods of power generation or a question about the formulas? The first seems related to worldbuilding but the second should be asked on physics.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 13:15

Superheroes and the law: a series of questions around the impact of humans with superhuman powers on the different kinds of laws, and vice versa

This would be a series of questions, similar to other series that would otherwise grow too big, like the one on magical destruction (split in 4 parts). Each question would focus on a different major part of law (which ones I still need to figure out, but the first one would be penal code, the second one would be immigration and travel, so stuff involving passports and visas).

Suppose a regular human gains superhuman powers through whatever method. These powers would basically make him similar to Superman: no real limits, noone can stop him, but he's benevolent for the most part, meaning he won't choose to do traditionally evil acts (like negatively impacting innocent people) unless he's misguided in some way.

The questions I'm thinking to ask: Would a superhero affect what laws are created on local, national and international level? And to what extent would a superhero feel obliged to follow the law, considering he tries to be benevolent?

  • $\begingroup$ Good question, but if the hero can't be affected, what good would laws do? You may need to get ideas for how to enforce laws against superhumans first. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:35

I have a question, but I have no idea if it's off-topic or not. Here it is:

What foods would/do people eat during a journey through a desert?

Basically, I'm writing a story that features a group of people traveling through a desert (walking, with a small caravan of camels), and I want to know what food my characters will eat during this journey.

I don't know if that's too "realistic" and thus off-topic for the site.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It might help to get more background on these people. For instance, their culture and the time period (modern day Americans will be different than ancient Romans). On the other hand, if your question is about what they should eat, rather that what they would eat, it might be off-topic. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh thank you for the feedback. Just to double check: a question along the lines of "What would people [of x background] eat during a desert journey" be acceptable, right? $\endgroup$
    – user171
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this question looks fine so long as you specify it enough. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 11:19

When are detailed calculations required in worldbuilding?

[I'm unsure of the best tags. Suggestions?][Worldbuilding-Process]

It occurred to me a little while ago that although we delight in performing to-the-last-decimal-point calculations on worldbuilding, the vast majority of the time all we really require (from a story point of view) is a single digit and an order of magnitude. I very rarely have to pull out the exact orbital velocity of a spoon orbiting a pulsar for the purposes of building a narrative, but instead can go for the very generic 'fast'.

Therefore when I'm building my worlds I often skip many of the detailed parts of calculations, rounding throughout the process and throwing out a reasonable looking estimate for the speed of my spoon. I only then move down to an accurate result if something (or someone) in my particular story needs to say the exact speed of the spoon.

For various genres (fantasy/hard sci-fi/alternate histories) and media (written, acted, video games, art) the requirements for hard numbers instead of rough ones change, so:

At what point should Worldbuilders from various genres/media move to accuracy over spitballing the numbers?


I really want to ask this question to gauge where various different media need higher quality worldbuilding, but I feel that as it's an incredibly opinion based factor in the worldbuilding process that it will be nigh on impossible to get any reasonable answers out. Help!?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This feels like a question that would be better suited to its own meta post rather than the main site as it is addressing how we do thing when answering questions. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @James: My intent was to ask a question about the world building process in general, not just about how we answer questions asked on this site. I'll edit to make that clearer. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Problem with this question is, that correct answer sounds: "It depends". What would be acceptance scoring of the answers? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @PavelJanicek: This is the issue I'm trying to resolve. I feel like this is a valuable question to ask, but it is so hard to fit into the Exchange Q&A format that it's almost impossible. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ It certainly seems like a question worth asking - answers could be rated on how much they consider the "it depends" - These questions rarely have Yes or No answers but that doesn't make them any less worthwhile. A good answer would identify the attributes of a concept that requires hard science (incidentally a good tag to use, in conjunction with one like "fantasy") from one that only requires lip service to reality. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:21

Why would more than 2 eyes be favored on a mammal?

In the wondeful, wacky world of invertebrate evolution, multiple 'eyes' are a common feature, though this rarely happens in vertebrate evolution. Sure there are examples of when vertebrate evolution has chosen to give its animals three eyes, but it has never chosen to give it 4 or more.

What evolutionary reasons would a species have for evolving more than 2 eyes?

  • $\begingroup$ quora.com/Why-do-we-have-two-eyes This guy answered it well I think in terms of hard science $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Sky but he just explains why 2 eyes are favored, not more than 2 $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ Can you include a link to 3 eyed vertibrates? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ I read the question as "Gee, why doesn't this ever happen?" as well. Seems like an explanation or rewording of some kind is in order. Perhaps, "How did this X-eyed mammal come to pass?" for X>0. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 1:14

How big the balloon of this gondola should be in veneran atmosphere 50km from the surface?

[Sandbox note: I still have to reconsider what tags should I use? Or should I use tag instead of tag?]

Assume in a world with some HAVOC-like concept is realized for venus colonization. With near-future technology (near, very near, like in the next decade), we build a fleet of colony airships capable of sustaining at least 30 people on approximately 50 km from the hellish surface of Venus, where air temperature and density were somewhat similar to earth atmosphere, like this quote from Wikipedia:

Despite the harsh conditions on the surface, the atmospheric pressure and temperature at about 50 km to 65 km above the surface of the planet is nearly the same as that of the Earth, making its upper atmosphere the most Earth-like area in the Solar System, even more so than the surface of Mars.


Assuming that the airship has a gondola with about 147,000 cubic meters in volume and weighs around 41,160 tons (assuming similar density to commercial airliners, or around 0,28 tons per cubic meters), and is cruising on 50-65km of altitude, how big the balloon should be to sustain the gondola?

Also, it would be nice to have an equation that I and/or others could use to solve this kind of problem in the future, assuming the density and volume of the gondola is known.


Some consideration to make, is that what would be the filling gas of the balloon. Therefore I could think of some options:

  • Breathable air (71% nitrogen - 21% oxygen) is a lifter gas in veneran atmosphere, the density is around 1.225 kg per meter cubic. Could probably be mined from veneran atmosphere, so is replaceable.
  • Helium, probably could result in smaller balloon size, but would probably be very expensive to import, unless it could be mined from atmosphere (it couldn't, right?)
  • Or any mixture that could be mined from veneran atmosphere, would be a bonus point.
  • $\begingroup$ I think this could work here. With some tweaking, it could also work at Space Exploration and maybe even physics. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 16:26

As suggested I'm posting this here in order to try and get it on topic. I don't want an answer from the physics Stack Exchange site because the intent of the question is much more to do with how to explain the concept than how to solve the math. Question follows:

I'm trying to develop a story where a vast and sinister Alien Intelligence is bent on testing humanity's primitive knowledge of physics via the Q & A answer sites on their world wide communication system to make sure that they are not a threat to him (not entirely dissimilar to what Emperor Ming does in the Flash Gordon movie):

The Emperor Ming: Every thousand years, I test each life system in the Universe. I visit it with mysteries, earthquakes, unpredicted eclipses, strange craters in the wilderness... If these are taken as natural, I judge that system ignorant and harmless - I spare it. But if the Hand of Ming is recognized in these events, I judge that system dangerous to us.

What question should the AI ask the humans in order to test them and what matching answer would fully demonstrate that FTL travel violates causality? Something like this perhaps?

If I have a spaceship that can instantaneously and infallibly travel to any point within a few hundred light years show me how I can travel back in time and prevent myself from being conceived?

Obviously in order to adapt something like this to a story the answer needs to be without complicated maths (especially as I can't follow it).

The background that prompted this idea is that I've occasionally seen the phrase/assumption 'FTL travel violates causality' (or variations thereon) used by sci fi fans and authors such as Charless Stross but I have never seen a good explanation of why.

For seconds: faster than light travel would appear to be a necessary precondition to writing wide-screen space opera. But if you permit violations of special relativity, you're also implicitly permitting global causality violation — time travel. (Go read a physics textbook if you're not sure why.) Permitting violations in the first place suggests that there'll be more than one way of doing FTL travel (just as there's more than one way of doing heavier than air flight — compare a helicopter to a jet airliner and a bee). And then you've got to ask, what are the implications of time travel?

The best explanations I have seen usually involve two frames of reference moving in opposite directions at the speed of light where one observer sees an event (e.g. shooting a giant space weapon at a harmless planet) before the other observer has started the event and is thus assumed to be able to (near) instantaneously travel to the other frame of reference (thus effectively back in time) and prevent the event.

The trouble with those explanations is that surely, once an observer in one frame of reference tries to become an actor in the other frame of reference, the frames of reference must somehow merge or expand and therefore the initial conditions are no longer valid thus invalidating the violation of causality?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you got a title and tags yet, or do you need help coming up with them? $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 12:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'll add more detail later as I need to go out now but the issues I see with this question is that it isn't really about world building as such. "How to explain physics" (Especially general relativity which is one of the most non-intuitive bits of physics) is a huge subject and not an easy one to answer. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ There is also the problem that it's very open ended, and non-constrained. People could post literally anything and most people here would have no way to rate those answers compared to each other. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 15:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And finally there's a plot problem which is more something for you to think about rather than an issue with the question as such. That problem is that why would someone bother asking the question? If they can access the internet then Wikipedia has already sealed our doom (or not) depending on whether the aliens like what they read there. (Or more realistically they could access scientific journals). $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting, complex. Not my area of expertise but my gut reaction is this may need to be broken out into pieces...but again that is not founded in any science. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 16:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @TimB I see this question as not so much 'how do I explain it' but 'what preset sentence do I give to show it'. Kind of like the difference between saying "Santa isn't real" and explaining why Santa isn't real - because reindeer don't fly, he'd have been arrested by now, etc. Just the statement is enough here. Though, admittedly, this question could do with an edit to better reflect that - Clara, something for you to think about. $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 16:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do you want the test question to be a subject that ties into the story itself, or just to be a plot device? If it's an arbitrary plot device it doesn't really matter which one you choose. If there is a reason that it does matter which one you choose, more detail on what you'd like from it will help people come up with useful answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the last bit ("The trouble with those . . . " onwards) - you can't "merge" reference frames, so there isn't a problem there. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 21:59

What would be the religious or moral values of a subterranean species?

I have a humanoid species psychologically similar to humans that lives in underground caverns and tunnels.

  • List item They have contact with surface dwelling groups, but the majority of the species still lives in their underground communities. This species was not originally subterranean dwelling but have been for the at least the past ten thousand years.
  • All of the species is descended from the original 900 or so who went underground to survive a planet wide disaster. They were the last of their species - there are no similar people surface side.
  • My time frame for technology is rough but is the year 1600 at most.
  • Community size varies from smaller communities to large cities inside mountains. However such large cities are few in number. Most of the species lives in middle sized village or town environments.
  • Various underground settlements have regular contact with each other, although travel time obviously plays a large role in communications. Smaller communities are more isolated than the few big cities.
  • The species eye sight and color perception is notably worse than humans, but their sense of smell is notably better (if this changes anything).

What effects would their underground lifestyle likely have on their religious or moral values? This question was originally asking about the effect on their culture in general, but I decided to narrow it down.

(Does this work all right?)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Culture is quite a broad term. I'd suggest breaking it down into several different questions on the aspects of culture: impact on music/art, language/communication, technological development, values, religions, cuisine, social structures, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Seth
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 15:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I also think that you'd need some more detail about the scenario. Did this species evolve underground, or are they recent transplants from the surface? If so, what drove them to live underground? What is the technology level? Culturally speaking, there are leagues of difference between Bronze-age tech and Future tech. How large of communities do these people live in? Are these mostly isolated from other underground communities, or is there easy interaction/exchange of information with Undergrounders across the world? $\endgroup$
    – Seth
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Seth I narrowed down the question to be about their value system and added more information. Do you think this fixes things? $\endgroup$
    – CoolCurry
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 22:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How do they feed themselves? 1600s tech has no way to grow food underground (we'd struggle to do it now!) $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB I'm dealing with that in other questions (see the one on if Tolkien's dwarfs could actually exist). Likely my solution will involve creating a new ecosystem that lives off geothermal energy. $\endgroup$
    – CoolCurry
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 1:44

How would a future British Islam respond to rule by alien mages?


  • London 50-70 years in the future.
  • Technological regression to mid twentieth century (might be good to add an actual year or at least a decade, tech advanced pretty rapidly in the 20th century)
  • Regression was forced by aliens disguised as humans
  • The aliens can use magic (tiny description of what can be done and what they do with it wouldn't hurt)
  • It has been about 40 years since the technological regression occurred.
  • Many humans do not believe that they are aliens nor that they have magic
  • The alien rulers are probably no worse than most human rulers throughout history. (there is a large range of good to bad human rulers, best to clarify or give a human ruler as a comparison)
  • Most people accept the situation.

I am more familiar with western religions but wanted to include a Muslim character. The character is female, mid-20's, lower middle-class, unmarried member of the Resistance with a mostly South Asian ancestry. She wears a headscarf but not a veil and works outside the home.

(to answer the question we need to know how devout she is...guessing from your description I would guess not super devout...or at least she does not adhere to strict sharia rules)

Her beliefs are not shared by all British Muslims of her time, (what beliefs?) but she is meant to arise from a significant current of opinion. (re-word this, not sure what it means)

  1. Would she be willing to believe in magic and aliens or would she think it is a bunch of humans cooking up a technological fraud to keep themselves in power?

  2. What would she take from the Koran about the possibility of magic and/or aliens?

They clearly are not either demons or angels, but morally mixed creatures like us. If she does accept their genuineness, does she see their rule as something that needs to be opposed on the grounds that magic is evil, or rule by non-humans is evil, or would her resistance be purely political?

It is relevant to state that the regime permits religions to be practised so long as they stay in line. Decades ago risings against the aliens in Muslim countries were savagely put down, but Islam is not seriously persecuted in Britain at the time of the story.

What words would she use to describe her own beliefs as a member of the resistance? Jihad seems an obvious one, but are there other concepts from Muslim thought that she would apply to this situation? What suras, ayahs and hadiths would she quote?

The aliens generally exhibit mild disdain for all Earthly religions and political theories, although a few express a rather condescending interest. Would she think it obligatory to make the probably futile effort to convert any she meets?

Remove the below, it makes this way too broad, though you could ask a separate question about the more general Muslim response

~Remove~ Moving away from this one character, what other types of Muslim response would there be? What religious justifications might those Muslims who choose to collaborate with the aliens put forward? Or those who resist, but not in cooperation with the officially pluralistic general resistance movement in Britain? ~/Remove~

Sandbox note: This question has been placed on hold as too broad on the main site. James has suggested I place it here to seek suggestions on how it can be edited to be more suitable. Maybe it could be split into several questions?

Sandbox note 2 (15th July 2015): Unfortunately I have not had the chance to look at the suggested edits for this question over the last few days, and it looks as if I won't have more than momentary access to the internet for the next few days either. I have thus exceeded the five days for which a question remains on hold and the question will be closed. Nonetheless I would like to resubmit a new version of this question at some point in the future, taking into account the suggestions made, for which many thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ I am going to take a crack at editing this, if you don't like the edit feel free to roll back obviously. I think part of the problem is that you are mixing religion with government and politics and an individuals personal response, which...lets be honest is pretty dang complicated and...well broad. I am working on it I will post the edit in a few minutes. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ ok...so I got to working on it and there is some work to be done...but a good question is in here...somewhere, there is still quite a bit of superfluous info in there, but I didn't want to cut a bunch out before we knew what the narrowed question would be...I think the question should more generally be something like this "Would a devout Muslim woman religiously accept the takeover of the nation by magic-wielding aliens, or would she be morally/religiously opposed to such a situation" $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Since it is in sandbox, I feel I can be more subjective. I think your question IS interesting, but there are literally thousands of books of Muslim's schools of thoughts. And there are more schools than I dare to count. So we should extrapolate from most (or at least some "main" ones) to that hypothetical future. It's worth a book in itself, I think. Which is why it seemed too broad for me. So certainly the last paragraph should be suppressed, as a start. And the more info you add on her, the better. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Maybe you could consider a first question on how to blend in religions (not only Islam) in your alien rule. In general terms. Or think about it yourself. "most people accept it", as we are today, most people are at least a few billions religious people. States have official churches now. How do they cope with the overruler? Etc. Maybe a series of questions once you make that path. And ONCE that has been cleared, you could ask about much more specific details on one single individual. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 19:58

What and how would we go about salvaging an alien craft in the immediate days after a crash?

In present-day Portland, Oregon, USA, a large 'saucer' of 350m radius and a thickness of 30m has crashed into the west hills leaving debris, but remaining largely intact. It's understood that no aliens have survived, and the human count is very low. Forest fires have been contained. Now what?

Here's my problem: it's way too broad.

Could I add specifications to the Alien's civilization, the types of things known and unknown to be available on the craft, etc.? My more important focus is the procedure scenarios immediately undertaken locally, nationally, and internationally.

If I list that there's a warp drive, an infinite-energy source, etc. on-board, which gives rise to jurisdictional fighting between countries, agencies, etc. would adding these specifications help make this an acceptable question? Any ideas?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would scope it down by asking who would find out first, given the area of impact. that gives you chain of .events $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @PavelJanicek - thanks, that actually makes a lot of sense. I'll get to work on the list of knowns and unknowns so as to keep it less broad as well. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ This is a great idea - tag it with near-future and narrow what type of answers you want (weeks, months, or years?). Looking forward to seeing this one on the site! $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Chances are the US will enter the spacecraft first and check it out, then later stage an official entry to the region when they have got the right people's/country's permission. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 10:24

Visibility after speed of light

Assuming that I can move much faster than the speed of light, would I still be able to see at that speed?

Following inferences led me to think that I can't see at that speed.

  • If I accelerate towards c, time starts to slow down. Movements slow down. Light spectrum shifts. Colors change.
  • When I'm at c, time stops. There is no movement. The only things that are moving are light and I. We have the same speed. My vision perception starts to change at this speed.
  • Now, I'm moving faster than the speed of light. So much faster that the light itself slows down and eventually stops. And since there's no light (photon) movement, I shouldn't be able to see. The only thing that is moving is me, and if I want to see, I need to be keep moving so that my eyes can collect/detect/pick up the light (photons) that are frozen in time/space.

[Sandbox note: I've asked this question initially in physics.stackexchange.com (Beyond the speed of light) and later in scifi.stackexchange.com (Visibility after speed of light) and got turned down both times. Apparently, this question was not fit for either one. So you can imagine my frustration. I was suggested that I should try my luck in here, and this is me trying. If this also fails, well, whatever.]

  • $\begingroup$ I think this questions should be O.K. but other more experienced users may think differently. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ IMO, If Physics can't answer this, we probably can't either. You're essentially asking for information on a subject that is currently deemed not possible... $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 22:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There's a slight issue with this - the only way to travel at $c$ is to be massless otherwise the energy expended to reach $c$ is infinite. In a sci-fi context, travelling faster than light is fine. Travelling at $c$ isn't remotely possible unless you're massless. If you are massless, the only possibility is that you're travelling at $c$, so you can't be travelling slower than $c$. If you can 'jump' across the light barrier, then an answer could be possible. It's not allowed on physics as what you're asking is way outside of 'mainstream' physics. Apart from this, I don't see why it's not valid. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Mithrandir24601. It feels like you’re asking, “According to the laws of physics, what would happen, in the real universe, if I violated the laws of physics?” That seems unanswerable. ISTM that you have two options: (1) Stipulate that you are always moving faster than the speed of light.  Rephrase your question along the lines of “Can photons interact with tachyons?” and try again on physics.SE. (2) Define how subluminal/superluminal transitions work in your universe.  Since you’re creating a universe that’s different from the real one, … (Cont’d) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ (Cont’d) …  you are allowed to — in fact, required to — use your imagination. You are free to simply choose an answer to your question, based on your needs (i.e., are you writing a story?). If you don’t want to do that, then at least try to develop your fictional physics to the point that it dictates an answer to the question.  This may illuminate the problem (pun intended) to the point where you feel comfortable answering it yourself. But, if not, then at least edit your question to explain your ideas on how physics works in your universe; maybe then we’ll be better able to handle it. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 4:42

How big can an impact crater be without having the planet (normally) destroyed by the impact?

I have a planet where my fantasy world is build upon. You may assume it is about the same size as earth and although it has some quirky fauna and flora, In general it is a planet much like earth. In size, tilt, spin, ....

I had an idea to add a region to this planet, filled with exotic and alien life. The general idea is this: A meteor crashed down on the planet, a long time ago. This created a huge impact crater with mountains on the sides. The impact was on a corner of a large piece of land, in the bottom of a continent. So the sea is nearby.

The mountains would not be high, so perhaps more hills, but they'd keep the sea at bay. Inside of the impact crater I would have a large, lush jungle. Filled with alien and exotic life (fuelled by whatever I decide was in the comet/ meteor). There would be small civilisation around the crater, more inland. The canopy of the lush jungle would be seen as a sea of trees.

My question is, how large can this crater be, for the impact to not have destroyed the planet? My preferred size would be a circular impact crater with a diameter of a few hundred kilometres. (200-400).

Sandbox Questions

Do I give too much context? Should I get to the point sooner?

Any other critique?

Should I add this piece of context:

The impact would have happened around the time that the planet was being colonised and the dominant species (humans and neo-humans) would have had access to pretty advanced technology. Due to circumstances however they would not have been able to destroy it, but perhaps slow it down?


What happens when I poke holes in the language barrier?

I've got a world with magic. Quite a lot of it, actually. One of the spells is telepathy (okay, there are a bunch of telepathy-related spells, but that's out of the scope of this question). Telepathy isn't just silent talking; it's sharing images, emotions, and meanings rather than conveying that through other means. Because of that, anyone who can telepathically send can be perfectly understood by anyone who can receive, no matter how vast the cultural gap.

Telepathy works a lot like telephone calls. You "ring" someone, and they know the "phone number" of the person who's calling. If they choose to pick up, you can communicate with them. There's one big difference between the modern phone system and telepathy; you can't do conference calls (though, if you don't mind expending a lot of energy, each person can connect individually to each other person and send the messages through each link at the same time)

How would this affect interaction between different countries, or different people of different languages? For example, diplomacy could be conducted through thought rather than risking mistranslations -- how would this affect international relations?

I need to know what tags to use. Aside from that, please ask for clarifications if I haven't stated anything, because my magic system is already made and I'd like to avoid changing it if possible.

  • $\begingroup$ can be perfectly understood by anyone who can receive, no matter how vast the cultural gap. I find that unbelivable. If possible it would have to apply to bodies of specialized professional knowlwdge as well. How can the receiver grasp the deep meaning once the connection breaks, when all the referenced associations are not in his own head? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ You would certainly use the magic tag. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz First off, the minds are never shared; this telepathy is more like an IP connection than mind-melding. Secondly, that's a good point. That kind of thing never comes into play in my story, though, so I'm not going to worry about it. $\endgroup$
    – Nic
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 5:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My gut feeling is that “what happens?” will be closed as Primary Opinion Based. You need some criteria for knowing why one answer would e better than another. We know nothing about the cultures doing this diplomacy, and if this telapathy has been around for a while the situation will already be very different from what we have here and now. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You use the term broadcast but later say it does’t work as a group. So don’t imply one sender everyone receives like radio. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ Another problem. Can you force the telepathy or must the receiver accept the call? Just imagine the trolls doing random stuff when you can share images. $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz True. That's a bad word choice. As for criteria, what would make sense? (that is, can you give me an example of a criterium, since I don't really understand what you mean) $\endgroup$
    – Nic
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Sky I've got to edit the wording a bit, but it's more like a phone call. You can ping anyone you want all day long, but it's unlikely that they'll "pick up" unless the recognize your "number", or know who you are through some other means ("I'll call at 8PM tonight" -> you get a call at 8PM that night) $\endgroup$
    – Nic
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 15:22

Mammalian descendants that could control what chemical content the mammary glands excrete: Is it beneficial?


Following this question, now the world had grown another billion years after 7 billion years ago (so, err, roughly 6 billion years ago). Assuming that life on that planet is somewhat having uncanny resemblances with earthen life, that it have similar tetrapods with features could be described as equivalent to earthen tetrapods, I extrapolate that eventually mammalian-equivalent of the planet would evolve more complex creatures than it is on earth. And so the formation of this so called second-generation mammal, a chemosyntesia (alternative name is pending).


Pretty much the same as in the title, is the ability to modify chemical contents that mammary glands secrete beneficial to the creature?


  • The question seeks the answer that revolves around what could possibly be beneficial for the new species compared to normal mammalian so that it could compete better (or at the very least it is not being overcompeted).

  • "Beneficial" as is said refer to benefits in evolutional pressure, assuming earth-like life. It could be translated in reverse too, that is "is it not a hindrance or disadvantage for the creature?"

[Sandbox note: I had it clarified enough, in my opinion. If I were mistaken, or perhaps it is not clear enough, please do comment.]


  • Mammalian is an endothermic compared to a reptile with four chambered heart, covered with furs, having mammary glands on the body. Along with mammalian brain (and neocortex in some species).
  • Chemosyntesia is a second generation mammalian (different from mammalian as in between reptile to mammalian, only now mammalian is in the position of the reptile) that has the ability to produce wide range of chemicals on their heavily modified mammary glands, by having the ability to control hormonal system on the body through conscious effort with extra brain mass on neocortex, just call it supracortex region for now.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The background is really more a justification, and doesn’t help the question. A single sentence worked in earlier would be fine. what is different is mostly repetitive. Even the title could be tightened up. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ As for the actual question, I don’t feel that it’s too broad or too opininated, and fits in with other well-received questions. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz thanks! I'd remove the background and what is different part, as I have to agree that those parts are repetitive and unnecessary. For the title, I'd try to find a tightened up version. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, I noted my ascessment on the fitness of the question since nobody else did; per my new “no news is…?” note. But I did not upvote since the writing can be improved. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz I had edited the question. I believe this is now clearer than the old text. But please do comment if I do it wrongly. Thanks for your suggestions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that the point of the question is really obvious. At first read it seems like you're talking about shooting arbitrary chemicals out of a cow udder. If you're strictly speaking about chemicals for the purposes of affecting a juvenile offspring's growth, you should probably mention that. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ The question also seems overly broad, in that there are no stated target substances, or indeed any limitations at all on what could be secreted. The answer to that would always be "If you could do X, it would be beneficial.", and X could be anything. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @LordDust originally the idea is that the chemical secretion could be anything used in various purposes. Perhaps be part of their lifestyle. Like when they need to attract certain animals to feed, or when they want specific animals to avoid them, or even offensive measure like poison secretion. That do not limit the possibility of that feature used to affecting juvenile growth, but I never thought of that originally. I just feel that the gland would coexist with mammary glands, just like sweat glands coexisting with mammary glands. How could I do to narrow it down? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you have several questions going on at once, then. First the fixation on mammaries has to go. It would make no sense to put something like poison in mammary glands under any circumstances. It sounds more like you want an arbitrary extra gland, or set of glands, for something like that. Breasts are for breast feeding. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Second, you've tried to make this a yes/no question by asking "Would this be beneficial?". Unfortunately, you have to specify what it is you're talking about for that to be a valid question. eg. Would poison be beneficial? Would acid be beneficial? Would hallucinogens be beneficial? etc. Otherwise, you get a primarily opinion-based question about what, exactly would be THE beneficial chemical. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Third, "Is this beneficial?" strikes me as kind of a red herring, in that the answer will always be "yes"; nobody is going to make up some useless gland or secretion that is a disadvantage to the species just so that they can answer "no". Instead, in addition to asking about specific substances, ask how it came about in an evolutionary sense, so that a quality answer with some research might really stand out and make for a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 18:36

To what extent would kill-switching a Western nations smartphones destabilise the government?

Suppose that the Galaxy Note 7 incident was just a trial run....

Suppose that the government of the nation that creates the vast majority of the smartphones in the world inserts a kill-switch into the hardware and that on April 1st 2017, all of the smartphones in a particular Western superpower explodes - all at once.

Would this destabilise the government and financial institutions enough to cause a political meltdown and force a re-election?

  • $\begingroup$ Why would government do that, and would people know it is the government? Given that suppliers for batteries are not plentiful this might turn out to be a fatal mistake in tech. Oh, and are you going to use device's clock for timing? Then you should be sure some of them will explode earlier and people will notice this strange coincidence. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I'm implying that this is state-sanctioned sabotage of another state. Basically, it's putting code into the hardware that overloads the battery when a device is set up for a particular region code on a particular date. It's possible that the desired political outcome is more important than the commercial aspect. $\endgroup$
    – user10945
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ this does not answer what I wanted to ask. So again, in different words: political meltdown depends on will or won't be detected it was organized by the foreign country government, and how that government would react to accusations (targeted at it or at manufacturers). And, some devices will have clocks tampered with, for various purposes. People will start realizing these are exploding "on April 1st 2017" long before actual April 1st 2017. How do you want to prevent that? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 14:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is great, because it allows research. How many of those smartphones are actually made in country x? How many of them are actually made by companies owned by the people's republic of x, as opposed to countries owned by the republic of x (i.e. Foxconn)? $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Bump! This is a reminder to keep the Sandbox clean. Please edit your draft, post it on main, delete if abandoning, or possibly transfer it to the current Sandbox. Thank you! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 19:30

"How dangerous is someone who can control the friction coefficient of air, in a limited volume?"

Given someone who can alter the friction coefficient of any volumes of air in her sight and then maintain those changes indefinitely, so long as the total volume is no larger than 10m^3...

If both groups are prepared for the other, how large a military force could such a person defeat?

  • $\begingroup$ space in meter..? wouldn't volume be more logical? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin - ... I forgot that word... $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ Bump! This is a reminder to keep the Sandbox clean. Please edit your draft, post it on main, delete if abandoning, or possibly transfer it to the current Sandbox. Thank you! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 19:36

Necessary psychological steps to achieve true Anarcho-Capitalism (question deleted on main site)

My description of anarcho-capitalism is a market driven means of resource exchange, without any interference from a state, actually there is no government or state, world bodies of trade. Goods and services innovation is driven through the quality and pure market forces.

  • Banking is peer to peer, using a decentralized currency like bitcoin. No fractional banking or credit creation as now, so a leaner/bank could not lend you credit unless they had them.
  • No taxes at all, so product and service policy is defined by you.
  • All current services supposedly funded by taxes are paid for on the quality and on a voluntary system, like old Chinese medicine practices; poor were free, the rich paid on how well the service worked.
  • Laws are based purely on common law, victim based laws and are judged by a group of peers - no lawyers and judges.
  • This is not a historical but based on an open internet and no restrictions on ideas exchange, except good technology to remove bots and PR.
  • Education teaches civics, self-authority and self-responsibility.
  • Removing the need for a state, government, shadow government or any slave masters.
  • End of all psyop warfare upon the population.

What mass psychological steps are needed and how did this happen? What caused a mass awakening in realisation that we no longer need a State or Government?

Notes: For example we have had several whistleblowers expose mass surveillance, we have had the rise of the police and military state, the CIA torture reports. Yet I believe the masses are kept under a psychological trance for a better word. Taking current world events as a start point, what removed this trance?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure that it require psychology in order to achieve anarchy-capitalism? I was thinking it would more require something like a cataclysm. It would be much more plausible in a post-apocalyptic society since most state are destroyed in the cataclysm or whatever the cause of the destruction was. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ Question on main site. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ Have you got tags? $\endgroup$
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For someone unfamiliar with this, the terms "slave masters" and "psyop warfare" may be unclear. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ Psychological mindset change yes, Statism and its forms of Authoritarianism in the modern era, especially in representation democracies, have a profound soft propaganda element. Children are taught to obey many forms of Authority, parents especially, instead of encouraging self authority, self responsibilty and compromise. Dependency on a welfare State, reflection of blame from politicians, apathy, the current campaign of fear/terrorism and more. I believe a non apocalyptic or violent process is needed, I imagine a mass "Psychological Awakening" and what could cause this? Helpful Aliens? $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ I understand generically worldbuilding implies some "starting from scratch" but what if that cataclysm was purely a social flash or something that shocked people out of their reality. $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ I meant non apocalyptic or non-violent process is needed. $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ One of the most interesting concepts in the modern era that might be interesting to take forward to build this "change" scenario is technological change. If you take the social, communication and self publishing effect the net has had. What "if" some new technology had an accidentally effect of opening or shielding perception? $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ I find that the world described is a bit to much for me to accept as possible, that makes it hard to consider a good answer. Power will exist whether there is a formal 'State' or not...but I suppose that is the point...how do you get past that concept... $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ @James yes that is the point. It a common psychological situation (stockholm syndrome) where people form an attachment to their abusers. That same concept could be applied to the State. $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 10:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elliotrock I can't say that I have seen any research on this but I feel something like Stockholm syndrome would not apply in a citizen to state relationship. SH is a very personal relationship and identifying with the abuser's problems is much more straight forward than identifying with an abstraction like "the state" $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes indeed @James $\endgroup$
    – elliotrock
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 4:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It sounds like the "psychological awakening" your scenario requires is an end to sin. Otherwise, who enforces your laws, who carries out punishments? There's no government, at any level. You would need a worldwide radical change in human nature. Maybe en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Return_of_the_Archons $\endgroup$
    – dmm
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 21:39

This world is a modern urban world where Fae are hidden, but living among humans. Most Fae live in caverns underneath the city. Their light (magic) serves as energy for plant growth and illumination of the cavern rooms. The more Fae in a room the lighter it is.

They are waiting to return to their otherworld where they age so slowly they are almost immortal. The more time they spend with humans, the faster they age.

My main character is a woman abandoned by the Fae into the human world as a child. I want her to be found and re-enter the Fae world, but how has she managed to retain her light? This is a magical world so there could be a spell or something, but I would like a natural element to be the thing that helps her retain her light. Copper? What are old fashioned light bulb filaments made from? Some sort of flint?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the light is magic, regaining it probably takes more magic. It's hard to justify magic with science, unless the magic is defined scientifically. With that in mind, this question is probably close-worthy unless you can more rigorously define your magic, and what 'light' actually is/does. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 17:57

Non-Eukarotic Macroscopic Life

All multi-cellular life as we know it is composed or eukarotic cells -- cells with a nucleus. Some single-celled organisms are eukarotic, some are prokaryotic (cells without a nucleus, such as bacteria.)

Would non-microscopic life that was NOT made of eukarotic cells be possible? Is there another way that macroscopic life forms could theoretically come to be?

I'd like to post this as a [hard-science] tagged question, but I worry that it may fall too far into "idea generation" territory. Is this question acceptable? How could it be improved?

  • $\begingroup$ You might want to focus on whether such an organism could exist first. That way, answers could focus on how it would evolve and come into existence. After that, if your main has not already been answered, you could ask a follow-up question based on the answers to the previous one. I'm sort of skeptical that multi-cellular prokaryotic life could exist at all, but I admit my biology knowledge is pretty rudimentary. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Good call. Edited. I don't necessarily mean prokaryotic multicellular life (which is why I said "non-microscopic" and "non-eukarotic", rather than the more concise "multi-cellular prokaryotic". Granted, I don't KNOW what else there could hypothetically be, but that's part of why I'm asking the question =^). $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm unclear on whether the organism is multicellular or not. One giant cell or many smaller cells with no nucleii? $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:33

All web search engines stop working, forever 'cause magic... How would people react?

What if all the web search engines, like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. stop working, but everything else is normal?, Google Drive works, Google Maps work, etc.

And making new web search engines is prevented by more magic...

How would this affect the internet habits of people on a personal level?

Like, you can only go to other websites via bookmarks or links people tell you about.

Would this massively increase the effects of, or create a lot of, echo chambers?

  • $\begingroup$ Your "magic" is kind of weird, and I doubt you can go to filter bubbles, if you aren't allow to search on the web. If you are, then you have a search engine. I have a feeling you contradict yourself. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 10:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin - My magic is handwavy magic... It just works and prevents web search engines ... Hmmm... I mean the effect on the opinions you see in a filter bubble, 'cause your sites you see are constrained by the bookmarks you already have, which already has a filter bubble-esque effect? $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid people will simply use things like google drive to do searches (academic papers are uploaded as a pdf and I can hit ctrl+f to find a search term - broad example). $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This question just doesn't make sense. Search is a fundamental part of computer science, pretty much no program on your computer right now will work without at least some sort of search going on. (For example it searches by key to look up each message to show you from files translated for each language supported). Without specifying how you shut down search engines but leave software running it can't really be answered.... $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ To second TimB, can I use a SQL query? Yes? Cool, then I can index the sites I'm serving and expose an interface to my SQL instance to the wider network. No? Then all of my app has to be hard coded, no user accounts, etc. I can still create a "concordance" of all of my sites. If every host makes one, you can still search, but most software is broken so it doesn't matter. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:29

with $2million what kind of survival kit would you bring to a prehistoric earth like medieval world with dragons, dinosaurs and uneducated populace?

what items would you bring with you to another world with the budget of 2million dollars.

You were given the information that they are not technologically advance and they have magic. On top of it you deducted upon questioning that it is a medieval-like age as well!

You are asked to save the other world. Save their world/race/kingdom/.

assuming you accept the offer

you ask to be given money so that you can prepare for the trip after 3 months of preparation. You were also given a bag that has time space magic that can store things the size of 50x50sq meters. It preserves everything inside in their perfect state just as you put them there.

you won't be able to return back to earth for another 50 years assuming you will live for that long.

Problems that possibly you might face are. -Demon king problems (Cause humanity manage to annoy its neighbors and their neighbors united against them, the leader of the coalition was thus named the Demon king.)

-Race survival. Humans are on the verge of extinction, you need to save them as a fellow human being!

-LOTResque kind of struggle between good and evil(Some immortal thought that it is time for his revenge or simply wants to burn the world to the ground)

-Poverty(Economic Crisis, some sick super powerful merchant guild want to rule the world through power of money)

-Health(Bacterial/Viral Problems. Do i need to say hygiene?)

-Rebellion(Some bastard thought he should be the emperor/king. The princess/prince says otherwise by summoning you)

-Bloodline issues(You need to marry the last of the royalty to thicken the royal blood more)

-Possibly alot more as you point out what kind of issue one might face here

So what would you bring? What possible issues that you would be facing apart from the stated above? What kind of preparation could you do in 3 months before your inevitable travel to another world?

Issue: Too Broad..

Can you help me to tighten it up? You can also answer the question if you want

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd say that you cannot answer "what other issue you might face there?" unless you know the setting better. I guess it'd be better to limit possible issues to the listed ones (specifying if you face all of them or any of them). $\endgroup$
    – user8808
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ (Also, sort of a silly question - can you put in the bag items that are bigger than the opening of the bag, like, tanks?) $\endgroup$
    – user8808
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Roux Yes you can! its a magic bag! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ The main problem is the "what possible issues might you find". If you remove that then it helps a lot. It would also help to narrow down your list of problems a bit as well, focus on the important ones. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say to eliminate one of the criteria - either 50sq meters or $2million. Further, explain a bit more what you are going to encounter - what kind of magic, for example, and describe the issue - why do they need to be saved? You might be able to use a few of your ideas as separate questions, with a time-traveling dude who saves alternate magical timelines from various threats. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ Adding my voice to the list of people who suggest picking a problem in need of solving. If I know the problem is rebellion, I might spend my $2 mil very differently then if I know the problem is war with demons. Presumably the person who invited me to come explained his problem in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Jerenda
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 16:09

How to have had 3 Hispanic Presidents of America by 2006...

What changes to the cultural history of America would be required so that the country would have had at least 3 different Hispanic Presidents, that are unrelated and not arranged in a sequence?

Would it be correct to say that the only POD (Point of Divergence) that I would need for my Alternate History is drastically lower Anti-Mexican Sentiment in America? So, then Mexicans could get better educations on average, and have almost, if not the exact same, chance of being President as a 'white' person, after being weighted for population of each demographic?

Also, I've got a question for research required for this question on History.SE: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/23451/was-the-texas-revolution-and-texas-annexation-the-root-causes-of-modern-hispanop

Should I post a sub-question on Politics.SE? If so, what should I ask?

  • $\begingroup$ As was noted on your History.SE question, your idea would be drastically improved if you didn't blindly confuse legitimate dislike of illegal immigration as a concept "-phobia". $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ As to what changes are required - that's easy, since you have history as a guide. Mexicans have to posses a desire, and excel at, integrating into American society, on the same level as European Catholics did (it took what, 70? 100? years of integration between "No Irish or dogs" till electing JFK after the major waves of Catholic immigration). $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ ... and while Texas events were much more recent, they also are far less impactful in the big scheme of human hatreds compared to major strife like Reformation and 30-year-war. $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DVK - So, the question should instead be something like... "How do I make Mexicans that want to be president" Or "How do I make Mexicans want to integrate into American society more"? $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say that the former (illegal) is a first order issue. Integration is the second. To be honest, if you have an anti-illegal, anti-Spanish-speaking, American of Mexican descent who has a right mix of conservative views, I can easily see the dude capturing R primaries, as easily as Herman Caine or Rubio did. $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ What is keeping us from doing that now? I can envisage an Hispanic president being voted today with tiny differences in candidates histories. In fact, I would have expected an Hispanic president before an African-American one. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Mikey - That's very informative/interesting! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Malady
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 15:28

Tags: Fantasy, Magic, Reality-Check

My system attempts to accomplish the following:

  • Magic does not break the fundamental, widely known laws of reality
  • Magic can be fairly easily understood by the layman
  • Magic isn’t an enormously powerful end-all-solution to everything
  • Magic is still clearly useful and has utility
  • Magic wouldn't, abiding by logic, be fairly singular in purpose
  • Magic’s ultimate purpose is extracting energy from one system, and applying it to another system in a specific manner

I also follow the tropes that magic is cast by magic users (let’s go ahead and call them ‘mages’), and these mages can train to increase their command of magic (like any tradesman or craftsman).

To that end, here is the workings of the system I envisioned:

  • All magic must extract energy from a system.
  • Mages can extract energy that they touch, in a limited fashion.
  • Heat is the typical energy extracted due to its ease.
  • A mage’s own body temperature is the baseline, and they cannot lower the temperature of an object to lower than their own body temperature.
  • To make extracting energy easier, mages typically make a pair of Foci.
    • Foci are typically slightly larger than an orange or apple, and are made from wood and stone. Beyond this in form they vary wildly.
    • Foci take weeks or months to create
    • Foci can only be used by the mage who created them
    • Foci are linked. If the link is destroyed, they are useless.
    • Foci are effectively invincible against the energy source they were created for (heat foci, for example, can withstand thousands of degrees Kelvin)
    • Only one link can bind one Focus.
    • Foci’s links are unidirectional.
    • Foci are created with one power source in mind, heat Foci being the most common.
    • The first focus in a pair can absorb and transfer surrounding energy, and do so at about 40%-60% efficiency, the wasted energy bled off in another form (sound, light, etc), and the energy is transferred out the second foci.
    • The speed of the transfer is limited by the speed of light, but otherwise the distance doesn’t matter.
  • Absorbed energy takes energy to hold; energy is bled off slowly (as heat, light, etc)
  • A mage absorbing too much energy can render him unstable (and thus he will detonate, incinerate, or some other catastrophic death)
  • Casting magic is taking the absorbed energy and turning it into another form via a learned spell
  • Releasing the energy in a progressively more organized form requires progressively more wasted energy (thus magic cannot fight entropy)
  • Mages typically learn a few dozen spells over their lifetimes. Spells include everything from elemental (lightning, fireball, etc), to transformative (shapeshifting). Raw displays of energy releasing are always considerably easier than the harder.
  • Spells are fairly specific
  • Learning a spell takes weeks or months of study and practice. Mastery years.
  • Every time a mage casts a spell they must expend some energy of their own, that their body would otherwise make use of.
    • Blood sugar is an easy source of this energy, but fat deposits are ineffective. Other sources are in between.
    • Excessive casting will kill the user, and younger, healthier mages can tax their bodies further
    • The ratio of body energy to absorbed energy varies from mage to mage
    • More experienced mages have to use less proportionate energy
    • Novice mages might see this ratio as low as 1:15, normal mages closer to 1:75, and the greater mages might climb to 1:300.

...Given these things, a few conclusions I came to:

  • Maintaining guarded bonfires for their Foci would be paramount. One foci would be left in the fire, and they would trust the landowner (king, servant, whatever it might be) to keep the fire going.
  • Mages’ faith in the security of their bonfire Foci would directly affect how far away from the safe haven they were willing to travel
  • Because of the waste of energy, the only industry they would play into would be those where it’s easy to create energy at one location, but difficult to generate at another, and so the mage could be employed to be basically an energy gateway
  • High blood sugar would be very important to the mages, and anyway to trick this system (insulin shots?) would be valuable to a mage.
  • Potentially Foci could be used as a unidirectional fast-as-light messaging system similar to the telegraph, by allowing an energy source and depriving the energy source and having the mage on the other end trying to continuously pull energy, and to record when he could/couldn’t. Morse code, and all that.

...All of this taken into account, three questions to form a bigger picture reality-check:

  • Are there any flaws in the system?
  • Any obvious exploits in the system that would make magic fairly singular in purpose?
  • Ignoring culture shock/adjustments (such as “magic is real!” and “it’s clearly demoncraft!” and “scientists were wrong all along!” etc), how would such magic affect Medieval Europe, and modern Western society, specifically in trade/industry, world affairs, and military engagement?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think that you probably shouldn't put all three questions in one post. Maybe ask about flaws and exploits only for now. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Bellerephon Fair enough on that point. I'll leave it as-is for the sandbox, but I'll remove the last question for actually asking it. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Could you explain what you mean by the linked Foci being unidirectional? $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Green Focus A can transfer energy to Focus B, but Focus B can't transfer energy to Focus A. Know of a better way to phrase that? $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren how about "energy transfer can only go from Foci A to Foci B. Transfer from B to A is not permitted."? I'm not sure how to make it more succinct than that. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Green Noted, I'll make that edit when I post it. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NexTerren so your Mage takes energy from himself and the focus? Also does your magic manipulate or create the magic phenomenon? For example, with the spell [earth spike], does the magic casted takes the surrounding earth to form the spike or does it create the earth to form the spike? $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ In what form is "waste energy" expelled from the mage? What stops the mage from reabsorbing this waste? I think I can see that you're trying to put a cap on power throughput, but some rewording might make it more obvious that entropy is still the result. $\endgroup$
    – Lord Dust
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Couple things, but overall this seems like a well thought out system! Consider A) Condensing as much of this information as possible or grouping things, ex. "there are mages" and "mages learn a few dozen spells" to "each person who practices learns as few dozen spells". This will make it easier on answerers. B) Migrating the context into a pastebin; while the information is the same it may make some people less intimidated by the amount of text. C) Linking to that pastebin in multiple questions - one for each of your 3 at the bottom $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 23:44

Space mega-shield needs an Achilles Heel

Sandbox note:

I’m starting this Q to help newbe Xxy after this earlier question and his sentiment “i[sic] still want to hear ideas of destroying something with my wrong vision of the black hole.”

I point out that he must describe the properties of his “security zone”, explaining the kind of effects he had in mind, since it is nothing like a black hole. Based on various comments trying to clear up his misconceptions of a BH, I will take a stab at it.

This is an initial draft and I expect Xxy to further edit to add his illustrations, important story details, and change whatever from my initial stab at things.

General: we still need sandbox feedback to prevent the Q from being “too broad” and know that it will be well-received when posted.

Question Text

An advanced race has mastered knowledge of gravity and spacetime, and to protect itself from the hostile younger races moving out into the galaxy, has created a kind of gated community.

They have a number of megastructures up to planet sized, clustered within about a lightyear diameter. Around this neighborhood they have a powerful gravity-based shield. The space inside this shielded area is tortured to the extreme, with space becoming large in one dimension and smaller in another, then switching direction, on a fractal complexity down to sub-atomic scale.

Normal matter cannot exist in this churning spacetime, as it is ripped down to elementary particles. Beam weapons can’t be aimed because the photons will take random chaotic paths and not maintain a beam.

The individual structures within this space have counter-shields around them to produce a safe zone around each structure. So, the churning space exists between the safe zones and up to the outer border.

The inhabitants get around by using wormholes. These connect the safe-zones of the various structures and controlled entry gates that lead to places far far away from this enclave.

Hyperspace jumps can’t work inside the churned space, so it’s impossible to “jump” into a safe zone that’s inside the enclave.

The border of the enclave appears to be a sharp border. Ships that attempt to cross it don’t feel a wall but are shredded as they pass the boundary location.

Story information

This race remember anything, and so it can use any information ever heard, they know the concept of war but they don't care about it for them war is just a "game". The way they try out things in the universe to learn about it, is sometimes brutal in the eyes of humanity, they sometimes destroy planets or do experiments with other lifeforms.

So they need to get stopped, but this life form formed a shield based on gravity, it is invisible but already scouted from humans.

Inside this shield there are 3 Planets of the race, each planet has a safe-zone around it.

Everything entering the shield will get destroyed, everything will be ripped down in small particles.

The particles will fly like dust in the center of the shield.

This species has one big problem: they are arrogant, they know they are way more advanced than other species so they build this shield so no other race disturbs them.

They think other species are too dumb to overcome this shield so they don't even care what we do to stop them.

The advanced species also don't have weapons because they don't have war; rather, they just avoid other species.

Humans can use some forms of ftl travel and they colonize a lot of planets, also there are different groups of humans. They can use a lot of strong weapons known in the sci-fi universe, but the problem is the most just get destroyed by the shield.

(Please ask if you need more information, I don't really know which information is important.)

but it can’t be too perfect!

This fortification needs some limitations and an Achilles Heel in order to make for an interesting plot. How will the enemies (who don’t have this space-churn technology or the advanced science to develop anything like it) be able to successfully attack the habitats inside the enclave?

Just sneaking through the protected entrances and letting the metaphorical “castle walls and moat” be essentially perfect is too dull for a plot. We want to design the fortification system so it can be exploited somehow, providing fodder for the plot.

Yet it is poor writing to just say that race B invented their own new gizmo that lets them pass; the ideas of how it works need to be a unified part of the overall description of the technology.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the big help. I have a question, should i information about the race and the universe here, so you can use it or can i write it to you in a massage? And you described the shield very well thanks. I am sadly not that good in english more over writing english. $\endgroup$
    – Xxy
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ Information on the race and situation and other important plot points should be included; we are inviting answers to make variations in the shield, ftl tech, and habitat etc. so they need to know what really matters. Questions like this are prone to being deemed too-broad or opinion-based (no right or wrong answer), so adding constraining details and context is a must. (Continues…) $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ As for writing skill: you may want to start by filling in your profile details. Include what you are doing, more generally than for this one project. From the profile we might know in general whether you are working on a roll-playing game or writing a story or graphic novel, etc. and learn that apparent lack of writing skill is simply because your novel is in German and English is a forign language, or something like that. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ So, do you need help with structuring the question on a large scale, or just with sub-paragraph level explaining things in English? For the former, I suggest adding a background heading and open with “these are the important things in the story”. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 6:39
  • $\begingroup$ I think i need help structuring my sentences and i have to work on my spelling. Often i dont know how to explain something in english you people can understand what i really mean so my sentences get long and wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Xxy
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 7:00
  • $\begingroup$ See English Language Learners for another Stack community you might want to join. Spelling can be checked with automatic tools: see about setting the language for spell checking in the text box of the browser! “I” (the pronoun) is always capitalized (that is unique word in English). Focus on keeping the grammar correct (and simple) first: don't explain all details in nested grammatical structures, but make additional (short) sentences. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the great help. Should I write here now the informations about the race? $\endgroup$
    – Xxy
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, edit the sandbox answer above this comment. Continue modifying it as people give you advice, and review edits made by other people. When it’s done this will be the Question to copy to the main site. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 7:23

Weapon design: a conceivable superheated sword capable of cut through things.

[Sandbox note: I am not completely sure of my english, and there might be wrongly used terminologies, given that english is not my native tongue. Grammatical fixes would be highly appreciated.]

1. Background Information

I am designing a sword with a blade that could cut through things (either with one atom width ribbon or superheated or both), that is able to deliver powerful swing by having its center of mass on the blade, yet easy to turn by shifting its center of mass to handle-ward side. So this is my current design:

1.1 The Design

The idea behind this design is a sword that is capable on both delivering powerful swing, yet easily manouverable (preferrably through dynamic system, or moving parts within). Not to mention that the sword should be powerful enough to cut through most solid things.

  1. The weapon is about 1.5 meters in length (1.2 meters in blade and 0.3 meters in handle). The mass could be anywhere from 5 kg to 7 kg.
  2. The blade is an empty hard shell of strong yet light material (perhaps diamondoid, graphene, or even carbon-nanotube reinforced steel), whose the cutting edge were multiple "curtain-held"s. The "curtain-held"s would erect curtains of some kind of monomolecular wire along the path of the edge (yes, you could see that this is partly inspired by this answer). The monomolecular wire would be either graphene as the answer linked suggest, or TMDC ribbons.

    • The original idea is that the curtains could be superheated to aid in cutting power, but perhaps it might not be required.
  3. The inner side of the blade "shell" would be a rail system extending from near the tip of the blade to near the end of the handle, of which a number of heavy counter masses (pendulums?) would be moved (shifted) to change the whole sword's center of mass. The counter masses would have to be in significant fraction of the whole sword's mass (perhaps anywhere around half of the sword's mass). The mechanism would then able to smoothly and/or quickly shift the sword's center of mass in battle according to need.

  4. Along the interior of the blade up to the handle, were a network of heavy (heavy in term of: each unit has high density) gyroscope systems, that are able to switch from this two configuration: "free moving" and "locking". Free moving, would then enabling the system to move freely along multiple axes. Locking would then producing gyroscopic hindrance on one or multiple axes at once, but allowing limited plane of no hindrance movement.

    • Originally the idea is to allow this weapon to build momentum by continuously swinging it in one axis to build momentum.
    • With this system, it is expected that when the stabilizer were activated and locked, the sword could be held straight with the tip at right angle from a flat ground, the sword would stand still (or perhaps rotating with rotation axis at right angle from the ground). When placed with the inclination deviation of around less than 30 degrees from normal, the weapon would rotate sideways along the normal axis. [Sandbox Note: I am not sure if gyroscopic system could behave as such, perhaps my interpretation is flawed. Is this interpretation of internal gyroscopic balance possible?]
  5. The blades sharp side could also produce strong magnetism that repel metals when in proximity, so that when facing another ordinary sword, the sword wouldn't just being sliced while the ordinary blade being thrown, threatening the user with flown sword blades.

  6. The handle is filled with computer control units, magnetic actuators to move the counter masses around the rails and an energy source.

If summarized, current solutions provide these features:

  • Dynamic mass counterbalance system inside the sword that could be used to shift center of mass of the sword, and is generally heavy, compromising at least half of the weapons whole mass.
  • Center of gravity moved to near the tip of blade for swinging and slashing, center of gravity moved to near the handle for easy and quick turning.
  • The sword is hollow, inner parts would be for counter masses and machinery.
  • Has sufficient battery power and strong capacitor to heat the cutting strand if heating is necessary. Otherwise it could be safely ignored, or the battery must be able to supply the system with enough energy to move the counter masses and power its integrated control circuits.
  • Whole sword mass would not be a problem, but should weight around 5-7kg.

1.2 Modus of Operation

Basically to operate it, when it is swung, the center of mass would be changed to be near the tip of the blade to increase the hitting mass, while to rotate the blade the center of mass would be moved near the handle. All of those features were manually controlled through constant direct brain computer interface between the user and computronium on the handle, which means only beings more powerful than a human with compatible communication protocol able to control it.

The weapon would be strong on impact (because its center of mass is on the tip of the blade) but would be super easy to turn (the center of mass could be redirected into near the handle for turning). The drawback would be sudden feeling of the blade being pulled apart as the center of mass would have inertia imbued in it, causing the sword to feel dragged blade ward when the center of mass being shifted to near handle, and to be pulled handle ward when the blade's center of mass moved near the tip of the blade.

Given its complexity and gyroscopic effect it has, it would be nigh impossible to be operated by a normal man. If normal human tried to wield that weapon, only to find that the weapon would not behave exactly the way one would expect a sword would move, because of odd sensation of moving center of mass, and gyroscopic resistance when turning, not to mention that the weapon is incredibly heavy, almost like lifting a barbell.

2. Question

From those description, here is a list of questions that I am interested to know, with descending order of importance:

  1. Is this arrangements conceivable?
  2. Is it possible for gyroscopic effect to behave like the way it is on description?
  3. If 2 is not possible, or even not conceivable, is it possible to have "the ability to give powerful swing while easily manouverable" without those gyroscopic system?

[Sandbox Note: For number 3, should I rephrase it as: "If 2 is not possible or even not conceivable, is the design without those gyroscopic system able to behave efficiently as the design goal?]

3. Considerations

Some consideration to make, with decreasing order of importance:

  • Given near future technology so no portable and highly efficient nuclear reactor as its power source would be allowed, but molecular nanoconstruct is possible. You get the picture.
  • Capable of delivering heavy blow while still maneuverable.
  • Capable of cutting nearly any material with superheated strand of 2d materials one atom wide.
  • Has adjustable gyroscopic balance system (perhaps not clearly described yet, or even could be ignored if gyroscopic balancing is impossible).

Assumption made to the intended user:

  • The intended user, though humanoid in body shape, is NOT human.
  • Is basically superhuman in intelligence and agility, so assume perfect kinesthetic sense and strength of about thrice to four times as powerful as human.
  • Is able to think fast enough to adjust the system's configuration on the fly.
  • $\begingroup$ The question itself seems fine but perhaps it could be shortened a bit $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 2:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra thank you. I think I can shortened it a bit, but not now as I'm in the middle of final exam weeks. I'll edit it as soon as I could. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 3:30

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