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Author Topic: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?  (Read 1750 times)

Offline Eli_Freysson

So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« on: May 19, 2016, 02:25:56 PM »
I just realized that I've never gone into what the buildings in my space opera setting are made of. I'm no engineer, but I do know that concrete degrades rather quickly compared to, say, stone castles.

I guess I could just say something like "megaconcrete" but I would like to put a little more thought into it.

Despite dipping into writing in the genre, I really do have little experience with space opera. Could someone give me suggestions on futuristic building materials, or what RL scientists predict?

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Offline Nora

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 02:48:42 PM »
Fullerenes. Bulk fullerenes.
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Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 02:50:34 PM »
Sorry if I sound a little dismissive here, but does it really matter? 99.99999% of people who read your book probably aren't going to know that concrete degrades quicker and those that do probably won't care. Unless the material your buildings are made from plays an important role in your story, it's really not something worth worrying about.

But if you want a more relevant answer, you'd still probably just be better making something up from scratch. Your story is taking place in the far future, right? Then invent a new material that has all the properties you want. You don't even have to address it much, just mentioning it in passing will add a little more depth and background to your world-building. Maybe give it a better name than 'megaconcrete' though.
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 03:02:53 PM »
Composite materials are the thing at the moment.
Green concrete is a concrete with additives that stimulate plant growth. They turn into green, mossy walls. This is already being used. The moss captures water, preventing concrete rot and forms isolation for homes. Plus the whole CO2 to oxygen thing ofc.

Solar concrete is a concrete with membranes in them that capture and store solar energy for heating, etc.

Bio Concrete lastly is a concrete that contains bacteriae that repair the concrete when it gets damage.

I think these are examples that will dominate future markets in first world nations because they can be produced in bulk, placed easily, condense multiple functions into little space and are trending at the moment. As an example, experiments are being run here of bicycle paths that store solar energy to save space on solar panels.

So for materials you could have walls, floors, whatever surface, with multiple functions, even intelligent ones. A wall turning into a screen? Very possible. As the implementation of multiple membranes and other products into concrete compositions advances you can expect more utility and such.

(My source is in Dutch though I'm pretty sure if you google bio concrete and such you'll find a more scientific explanation on concrete use. Hope it's of some help.)

Offline Nora

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2016, 03:15:49 PM »
Fullerenes are the answers to all your questions! I've seen it used in rather hard sci fi space operas too. It's used in The Quiet War.
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2016, 03:17:48 PM »
everyone knows it's going to be plasteel.

Offline Rostum

Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2016, 08:34:09 PM »
There is a fair amount of Roman concrete still scattered round Europe along with ceramic pipe and the odd bit of lead.

There are 3D printers that run on concrete and houses and boats have been built with them .

In ther future nanobots as a building material. A constantly changing dwelling dependant of variables such as the weather. A glass roof that goes opaque and thermally insulating when the sun is not shining on it for example.
or parts of your wall that can become monitor sceens when you want to work but look like art or just a wall when you don't need them.

Offline tebakutis

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2016, 09:09:26 PM »
In ther future nanobots as a building material. A constantly changing dwelling dependant of variables such as the weather. A glass roof that goes opaque and thermally insulating when the sun is not shining on it for example.

Just want to add a word of caution with the nanobots (as I've been called out myself on this, and rightly so).

While nano-technology is definitely cool, there is a danger of it becoming trope-y, especially when nanotech is essentially used for "magic" in a sci-fi story. So I'm always cautious about explaining anything in my sci-fi as a result of nanobots, or nanotech, or nano-whatever, especially if it's overpowered.

Examples: A spaceship that regenerates its own hull via nanotech (what does it use as raw material?) or nanotech turning a person into a Terminator by regenerating their flesh when wounded (what about blood loss?) or any of the other dozens of ideas we could all easily come up with.

Nanotech is absolutely something that can work in sci-fi, but I'd just suggest caution with it. If there is *any* other way you can explain the tech, use that instead.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 09:13:07 PM by tebakutis »

Offline tebakutis

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 09:11:33 PM »
Green concrete is a concrete with additives that stimulate plant growth. They turn into green, mossy walls. This is already being used. The moss captures water, preventing concrete rot and forms isolation for homes. Plus the whole CO2 to oxygen thing ofc.

Solar concrete is a concrete with membranes in them that capture and store solar energy for heating, etc.

Bio Concrete lastly is a concrete that contains bacteriae that repair the concrete when it gets damage.

I think these are examples that will dominate future markets in first world nations because they can be produced in bulk, placed easily, condense multiple functions into little space and are trending at the moment. As an example, experiments are being run here of bicycle paths that store solar energy to save space on solar panels.

BTW, all that stuff is super cool. It reminds me of a random idea that crossed my mind for a Fantasy-Faction sticky - why don't we have a thread for science articles? I've come across some really cool stuff, from the future of self-driving cars and trucks, to DARPA implants that convert brain signals to electricity (and back!) to contact lenses that can record footage in realtime ... basically, all sorts of stuff that would be great for inspiring near future or far future stories.

I wonder if it would be worth creating a thread for that? In General Discussion, maybe?

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 10:33:04 PM »
Yes, @tebakutis. Please make it so. I think a good third of my strokes for the contest have been some form of SF. It's kind of a thing.
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2016, 10:46:25 PM »
 Great idea, please start that thread. There is much happening no which will have great future effect. For example,  I believe a country in Europe, maybe Portugal, ran the whole country for three days recently on RE alone, isn't that brilliant?
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Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2016, 11:15:17 PM »
That IS a good idea. Seeing the solutions people are coming up with for global warming and pollution gives me hope. And I can't wait for self-driving cars. I'll be able to drive downtown, get sloppy drunk, and drive back home.  :)

Also... y'know... people with severe disabilities will have greater freedom, and such.  :D
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Offline Nora

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2016, 01:55:34 AM »
I also think it a good idea, but beware all of being too new-techy as well... I mean, I still have the Clarkesworld submission guidelines etched in my brain :

Quote
Though no particular setting, theme, or plot is anathema to us, the following are likely hard sells:

    zombies or zombie-wannabes (seriously, I'm not kidding)
    sexy vampires, wanton werewolves, wicked witches, or demonic children
    stories about rapists, murderers, child abusers, or cannibals
    stories where the climax is dependent on the spilling of intestines
    stories in which a milquetoast civilian government is depicted as the sole obstacle to either catching some depraved criminal or to an uncomplicated military victory
    stories where the Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or the Spartacist League, etc. take over the world and either save or ruin it
    stories in which the words "thou" or "thine" appear
    talking cats or swords
    stories where FTL travel or time travel is as easy as is it on television shows or movies
    stories that depend on some vestigial belief in Judeo-Christian mythology in order to be frightening (i.e., Cain and Abel are vampires, the End Times are a' comin', Communion wine turns to Christ's literal blood and it's HIV positive, Satan's gonna getcha, etc.)
    stories about young kids playing in some field and discovering ANYTHING. (a body, an alien craft, Excalibur, ANYTHING).
    stories about the stuff we all read in Scientific American three months ago
    stories about your RPG character's adventures
    "funny" stories that depend on, or even include, puns
    stories where the protagonist is either widely despised or widely admired simply because he or she is just so smart and/or strange
    stories that take place within an artsy-fartsy bohemia as written by an author who has clearly never experienced one
    stories originally intended for someone's upcoming theme anthology or issue (everyone is sending those out, wait a while)
    your trunk stories

Makes me blush but I've been guilty of a few of those myself, unknowingly walking the well worn lanes of short story cliches...
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2016, 03:31:44 AM »
Great idea, please start that thread. There is much happening now which will have great future effect. For example,  I believe a country in Europe, maybe Portugal, ran the whole country for three days recently on RE alone, isn't that brilliant?
It took me a while to get it - RE=renewable energy, right? And yes, it was true :)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/18/portugal-runs-for-four-days-straight-on-renewable-energy-alone
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Offline Rostum

Re: So... what to build houses out of in the far future?
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2016, 11:09:36 AM »
Quote
While nano-technology is definitely cool, there is a danger of it becoming trope-y, especially when nanotech is essentially used for "magic" in a sci-fi story. So I'm always cautious about explaining anything in my sci-fi as a result of nanobots, or nanotech, or nano-whatever, especially if it's overpowered.

Yup what peeps tend not to understand is nanos tend to have two or three states and you would need 1000's of different types (and millions on millions of the little things) all able to interact to create anything but the simpliest of functions. In books they tend to be an answer without an explanation.

A nano coating on a window that is inert but can be activated to change the positive charge on the glass to a negative charge would repel any dust and dirt built up on the window. Self cleaning windows. The energy to do this would come from a coating on the inside of the glass turning thermal energy to electrical and acting as a capacitor causing the effect when charged and automatically repeating

When the technology to do this is available it wont really be noteworthy compared to some of the other things that can be acheived.