What would you do if you thought you'd found a portal?

  • #1
AS-FOR
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If you found a portal, what would you do? Who would you tell? What experiments could you think to do and what information would you try to extract? Should you be concerned? Presuming you knew yourself not to be the world's greatest authority on portals/bridges/stargates or whatever, how would you react/what would you do?

[This question is to inform a short story. Central idea being, what could someone, essentially resourceless other than their own mind and initiative, do if they found a portal? How much could an amateur, faced with this situation, discover before having no other option than to inform someone else, losing control of the situation? The characteristics of the portal are not fully defined in the scenario yet, so no limitations in this first post.]
 

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  • #2
AS-FOR
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Hey, I posted more or less this question in the general forum, but thought it might belong here.

This question is to inform a short comic (part 1 linked beneath). Central idea being, what would/could/should someone (who is essentially resourceless other than their own mind and initiative) do if they found a portal? Portal in this case being some sense of object where, if you throw something in, it does not return - imagine a stargate event horizon just sitting in your garden.
How much could a person faced with this situation discover by themself? How would they tackle the problem? What experiments could they think to do and what information should they try to extract? Should they tell anyone? Who? How could they get that person to believe them. The characteristics of the portal are not fully defined in the scenario yet, so no limitations yet. The only things we know for sure is that the central character is not about to jump in and that he is very curious.

https://asforcomics.tumblr.com/post/145391674096/doras-1-of-4
 
  • #3
Andrew Wright
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A portal would be something that takes you from one location in space, to another in less time than you can measure?

Einstein's theories showed that if you could travel very quickly to a distant location and return back again, then you may not return to the same point in time (Twin paradox).

I would put an acorn on a string, tie one end to the tree and throw the acorn through. I am guessing the string would snap. Sounds unsafe.
 
  • #4
Andrew Wright
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I think we just broke the forum rules. This should go in the science fiction writing forum?
 
  • #5
DennisN
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First I would check with my doctor for a reality check. If my health was ok, I would send in a remote controlled robot with e.g. a video and audio feed, pop some popcorn and enjoy the show...
 
  • #6
CWatters
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I bet most people would grab the nearest rock and throw it in :-)
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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Does it lead to the interior of a bank vault?
 
  • #8
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Not the first step, but independent of the type of portal: Check if the portal moves, changes size or changes in any other way. See if you can move the portal by moving its support (if applicable) or encasing it in a plane and move that.

Do we see through the portal?

If not:
Put a stick halfway through, pull it back. If it does not work (stick doesn't go in, stick breaks, gets pulled in, whatever) or if the stick comes back severely damaged, find some experts and let them investigate. Otherwise:
Put a camera on a stick (finally a good use of those selfie-sticks), use it to make a video. Does not work? Get experts. If it works, go to the "we can see through the portal" case.

If we can see through the portal, or get reliable video data:

Does it look like a place on Earth? If it is recognizable and not too far away, go there. With access to both sides, check conservation of momentum and so on.

Put something through. If it doesn't work (transparent to light but not to matter?), make a video of the portal, check for infrared and UV transmission if you have easy access to the necessary tools, shine a light onto the portal and see if you can illuminate something at the other side (if applicable).

If we can observe the other side and put things through: Does the other side look like you can live there? It should, at that point - it is in contact with the environment here. Test with some small animal. If the other side looks like a planetary surface, get a drone and send it on an excursion. Afterwards: how far do you want to go?
 
  • #9
Bandersnatch
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Safety first.

Since I can't afford expensive radiation/gas detectors to let me find out whether there are some dangerous emissions present, I'd buy a canary, call it 'Early warning bird', and put it in a cage next to the portal.
I would then get a compass, to see whether there's strong magnetic field around it (might inform my decisions to use electronics in the future).
I'd see if there was a danger of electric shock (maybe it's charged?). To this end, I'd go back to the pet shop, buy a rat, name it 'Enterprise', tie a copper wire to it, and throw the end of the wire into the portal.

Assuming it's safe to play with it, I'd proceed with experiments, starting with examining the end of the wire tied to Enterprise. If it was burnt, snapped, or otherwise cut clean, it's not safe to cross the portal.
Then I'd take enterprise, restring his leash with a regular string, and send the poor rat where no rat has ever gone before.

After a few seconds, I'd pull it back, and see if it was alive/not mutated into a horrible abomination, etc. In such case, I'd repeat the process with longer and longer periods of stay.

Then I'd probably order a cheapo drone on ebay, and send it in, but only after tying it to a string (we don't know if remote control signals can cross the portal, and a drone is not that cheap).

If I were less of a heartless cheapskate, I'd start exploring with a drone and only risk Enterprise's life once I was sure I'm not throwing it into a pool of tentacles and lava.
 
  • #10
Andrew Wright
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Take a photo of the portal quickly before it disappears again?
 
  • #11
Andrew Wright
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Challenge non-believers to £50 bet at 20-1, paying upfront.
 
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  • #12
Andrew Wright
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Check it isn't a hoax.
 
  • #13
newjerseyrunner
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Approach it scientifically. Anything that's crazy like that, I would immediately assume that I was being pranked.
 
  • #14
snorkack
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One logical thing to check first: is anything coming out of the portal? Is anything going into the portal?
 
  • #15
Aanta
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My first reaction would be quite like that filmed monkey that encounter a mirror, meaning looking behind the portal to make certain it's there and not an illusion.
After the basic of taking pictures checking that the images are the same as what I think I am seeing, the next step would be doing tests that things can pass trough the portal without being cut off or shredded to bits.
Throwing in a rock, the second would be to putting something on fire - perhaps a stick to see if there's oxygen in there. The stick will have be thrown trough the portal also, biohazard demands that.

The second step would be to get some basic equipment, while I would worry that it would not last until my return.
That would involve a basic protection suit, oxygen can and airtight goggles plus sample bottles. And sending whatever images and information I got to various guys. But for those I wish to turn up, it would be people from my university while I would not say exactly what it was - as they would assume I had gone nuts ...er more nuts they know me to be. Instead claiming I had found a very nice meteorite - that would trigger a fast response as such are more of an interest the faster they are retrieved to avoid contamination - while an archeological site could wait as it been around for thousands of years already.

Since I would worry the portal would disappear I would hurry back before anyone else will have time to respond.

1: Only if the other side appear lifeless would I risk getting trough, knowing I would have quite some problems explaining that daring behaviour later - not to mention spending considerable time in quarantine. Curiosity would get the better of me and I would step trough and do basic experiments with fire, electricity to see if the natural laws are the same.
Even if they appear to be, the environment there might suggest there's a chances are that they might be , and that any sample I collect very well might turn radioactive as the weak or strong nuclear force could be different and I would have no easy way to test that.

2: If life is seen on the other side. I would bring a big plastic sheet, and cover the portal to avoid biological contamination. And have the meteorite guys get a big tent, to make it even safer as we start to prepare in studying the other side. Hazmat suits with air provided from 'our' side would be a minimum requirement for entering, and full decontamination in place for anyone who is to return.
 
  • #16
gmax137
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Sorry, I know this is a tangent, but this is an old thread so what the heck. And, I just happened to read this story today, it seems made-to-fit this thread.

anyway...

Two Tennessee rednecks are out hunting, and as they are walking along they come upon a huge hole in the ground. They approach it and are amazed by the size of it.

The first hunter says, "Wow, that's some hole; I can't even see the bottom. I wonder how deep it is."

The second hunter says, "I don't know, let's throw something down and listen and see how long it takes to hit bottom."

The first hunter says, "There's this old pickup transmission here, give me a hand and we'll throw it in and see."

So they pick it up and carry it over, and count one, and two and three, and throw it in the hole.

As they stand there listening and looking over the edge, they hear a rustling in the brush behind them.

They turn around to see a goat come crashing through the brush, run up to the hole and with no hesitation, jump in head first.

While they are standing there looking at each other, looking in the hole and trying to figure out what that was all about, an old farmer walks up.

"Say there," says the farmer, "you fellers didn't happen to see my goat around here anywhere, did you?"

The first hunter says, "Funny you should ask, but we were just standing here a minute ago and a goat came running out of the bushes doin' about a hunert miles an hour and jumped headfirst into this hole here!"

The old farmer said, "That's impossible. I had him chained to a transmission!"
 
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  • #17
snorkack
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One obvious thing to look for: see if you can go around the portal on Earth side. If you can, what is on the back side? Somehow blocked, or also a portal?
 
  • #18
hmmm27
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How do you know it's a "portal" ?
 
  • #19
DaveC426913
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Who would you tell?
Pretty sure I'd tell my wife before stepping in.

She actually has a fear that this will happen (or one of my physics gadgets will blow up and open a wormhole, sucking me in, or the mothership will come along and beam me up).
 
  • #20
Jarvis323
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A portal would be something that takes you from one location in space, to another in less time than you can measure?

Einstein's theories showed that if you could travel very quickly to a distant location and return back again, then you may not return to the same point in time (Twin paradox).

I would put an acorn on a string, tie one end to the tree and throw the acorn through. I am guessing the string would snap. Sounds unsafe.
If the portals were like the portals from Portal, then I'd put a pole through it to see what happens.

 
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  • #21
Vanadium 50
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The cake is a lie.
 
  • #23
snorkack
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How do you know it's a "portal" ?
That´s one question. For a doorway, how is it seen that what lies beyond is not in ordinary space on Earth?
 
  • #24
Hornbein
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I'd think there would be a dangerous wind coming into or out of that portal due to the pressure differential. The first thing to do would be build an airlock on this side.
 
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  • #25
Hornbein
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I'd think there would be a dangerous wind coming into or out of that portal due to the pressure differential. The first thing to do would be build an airlock on this side.
But an airlock would be possible only if there was some sort of frame on the portal to brace the airlock against and form a seal. I believe portals lack such, so I'd be out of luck. A discontinuous pressure gradient could generate a very intense wind.
 
  • #26
snorkack
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I'd think there would be a dangerous wind coming into or out of that portal due to the pressure differential. The first thing to do would be build an airlock on this side.
One possibility of identifying a portal.

Consider the possibilities:
If the pressure on the other side is permanently different, the wind would be constantly out or in.

If the pressure on the other side is near to the pressure on our side, near within the variability on our side and constant on the other side, then the wind would be sometimes in and sometimes out - and systematically out when pressure is low on our side.
Which is the kind of behaviour that would also be displayed by an entrance of a large air-filled cave with a few small entrances, like Wind Cave in Black Hills.

If the pressure on the other side is near to pressure on our side but there are weather patterns happening on the other side, too, then the wind would be sometimes out and sometimes in - but not fully determined by the weather on our side because the other side has weather, too.

Brace an airlock against? If the portal hangs free in air then you might block outbound wind by enclosing the portal in a balloon. Otherwise, look for suitable surroundings.

And the portal might be under water. Springs are common, and usually assumed to come from groundwater formed from rain or meltwater on Earth. How would you spot a spring that comes from a portal?
 
  • #27
DaveC426913
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But an airlock would be possible only if there was some sort of frame on the portal to brace the airlock against and form a seal. I believe portals lack such, so I'd be out of luck. A discontinuous pressure gradient could generate a very intense wind.
It would depend entirely on how the portal anchored itself here. Assuming it stays stationary wrt the ground by some unknown mechanism, you could simply build a sufficiently massive airlock with a donut gasket and it would stay in place. (diag. A)

Failing that, you could build an airlock that secured itself to either side of the portal, depending on what the conditions at the boundary are like. At some radius (say, 1metre), the portal's edge is reached so that it doesn't pass air at 1.1metres. You should be able to construct a double donut-shaped gasket that fills that gap, blocking any leaking air and only letting air pass by way of the airlock. (diag B)

1634829748026.png
 
  • #28
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What's wrong with just fully surrounding the portal, assuming it's somehow stationary relative to the ground or supported by the ground? Add an airlock to the outside of that full enclosure. The inner volume gets the same pressure as the other portal side, the forces on the walls are in balance.
 

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