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

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.]
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.

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.
I think we just broke the forum rules. This should go in the science fiction writing forum?
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...


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I bet most people would grab the nearest rock and throw it in :-)

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Does it lead to the interior of a bank vault?
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?


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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.
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Take a photo of the portal quickly before it disappears again?
Challenge non-believers to £50 bet at 20-1, paying upfront.
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Check it isn't a hoax.
Approach it scientifically. Anything that's crazy like that, I would immediately assume that I was being pranked.
One logical thing to check first: is anything coming out of the portal? Is anything going into the portal?

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