Imagine there was a civilization which has a mysterious floating point in its center. No one knows what it is, but if anyone goes outside a certain distance from it in any direction they quickly die due to unknown causes. However, if they make it back into the radius before they die they are completely returned to normal. This society is extremely advanced, and has managed to make contact with other such societies with their own mysterious floating points. Due to this communication, they learn that all the bubbles of civilization are different, some are larger, smaller, expanding, shrinking (uh-oh), in a desert, on an island, etc.
There are a couple of different ways that the “outside” could be portrayed.
- It could be as if everyone was on Earth, but if any living thing left the spheres of protection then they’d die. In that case, the inhabitants would be able to see things such mountains and oceans outside their sphere but not be able to interact with it.
- If this was the case, it seems likely that the spheres were made for the protection of life, because whatever was outside of them was extremely dangerous. Too bad they don’t know how, when, or why the spheres were made
- Another possibility is that only humans are forced to stay inside. If anyone left then they’d die, but the pets, livestock, and plants could survive outside the invisible sphere.
- A world such as this, with humans being the specific target, is more suspicious, and seems to be more likely to be caused by sentient life who were trying to keep humans (or specific types of humans) captive. Aliens maybe?
- Also, if the spheres become crowded, this could lead to some interesting farming techniques, which might involve leavingall of the livestock outside of the radius until the farmers needed them. This way they don’t have to worry about leaving space for food as the population grows
- In fact, if the place is highly advanced they could do almost all of their work outside of the radius using drones. They could have everything we have today by building factories far away from the sphere and having farms (or maybe no farms, if no life can leave the sphere) cared for by robots. The exception to having everything we have would be space to run around in, which would probably lead to a booming industry for virtual reality, maybe even inter-sphere competitions if they could get it to work
- Another possibility is that it’s a little planet/moon/asteroid of sorts (something big enough to have about one city, but not much more), but no one can get far from the surface. Maybe the dot would be at the center of the planet. They would still be able to see the stars and do astronomy, but they wouldn’t be able to leave
- Of course, while that wouldn’t be too hard on our civilization, due to lack of resources for interplanetary missions, this is an advanced civilization which probably could get between planets with ease. Not being able to leave could be a real problem for them
- A fourth possibility is that outside the sphere is simply nothing, and if anything made of matter leaves it simply disappears. It’d be a sort of “edge of universe”, and there would be absolutely no way of expanding beyond the sphere. Perhaps things that aren’t matter* could still leave, such as light, but it’d also make sense if nothing that we regularly interact with could leave; after all, it’d be the literal edge of the universe, there’d be nowhere to leave too. I don’t know how the different “universes” would communicate with each other, but it’d be extremely interesting
* matter: things that have mass and take up space