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View Full Version : Another "Nukes in space" Question. Anti-matter Vs Neutron Emitters



BigDon
2008-Mar-18, 07:02 PM
I didn't want to clutter up "What"'s nukes in space thread with side questions. But I had a thought about "Star Trek"'s photon torpedos which IIRC used a half a pound of anti-matter as a warhead.

A couple of days ago I had a thought for a question here, in that wouldn't a strong neutron emitter make a better weapon than the gamma put out by anti-matter? Mind you making "cheap" anti-matter as they do in the show would be a big factor in its usage as warhead material.

As designed for use in Germany (against the Russians) you do have a thing where you get a "What's the difference" effect as you scale neutron warheads upwards, but thats within an atmosphere. For use outside the atmosphere, where you might "miss" by dozens of miles, I *think* large enhanced radiation warheads may well be more dangerous than an equally energetic anti-matter explosion.

Though I think the concept of having a reactive warhead is superfluous once you can create small faster than light engines. "Hey! Don't mess with that anti-matter! It's dangerous and we need it to run the ship! Let's pack up all the garbage and run it into the Borg at 3,000,000 times the speed of light!" (AKA "warp 3" or 3^6 times the speed of light)

(Can intense gamma radiation cause matter to transmute?)

m1omg
2008-Mar-18, 08:33 PM
Well, as an ocassional Star Trek TNG and VOY watcher I must correct you, Warp 3 is nowhere near as 3000000x speed of light, not even Warp 9.999 can reach these speeds in Star Trek, Warp 3 is around 216 c I think ;).

Well, otherwise I agree with you, but I don't know anything about the gamma transmutation question.

neilzero
2008-Mar-18, 10:17 PM
Yes, gamma radiation occasionally transmutes some kinds of matter. Short wave length gamma can, and does, transmute almost anything. Perhaps not neutronium? I agree, neutrons may be more effective in space than relying on the target to anihilate the anti-matter. However, a half pound of matter can be carried in the photon torpedo for anihilating the antimatter. Neil

Noclevername
2008-Mar-19, 11:40 AM
Though I think the concept of having a reactive warhead is superfluous once you can create small faster than light engines. "Hey! Don't mess with that anti-matter! It's dangerous and we need it to run the ship! Let's pack up all the garbage and run it into the Borg at 3,000,000 times the speed of light!" (AKA "warp 3" or 3^6 times the speed of light)

Warp drive doesn't work that way. You're not accelerating something past the speed of light, you're pushing it "sideways" into a domain of space where lightspeed limitations don't count. So although massive amounts of energy are needed to create the warp field, it doesn't translate into kinetic impact energy.

IsaacKuo
2008-Mar-19, 01:56 PM
A couple of days ago I had a thought for a question here, in that wouldn't a strong neutron emitter make a better weapon than the gamma put out by anti-matter?

This depends. If you assume the availability of cheap and easy anti-matter, then no. The strongest neutron emitters are pretty darn weak.

mugaliens
2008-Mar-19, 05:01 PM
I didn't want to clutter up "What"'s nukes in space thread with side questions. But I had a thought about "Star Trek"'s photon torpedos which IIRC used a half a pound of anti-matter as a warhead.

A couple of days ago I had a thought for a question here, in that wouldn't a strong neutron emitter make a better weapon than the gamma put out by anti-matter?

Such as a cobalt nuclear weapon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt_bomb)?


Mind you making "cheap" anti-matter as they do in the show would be a big factor in its usage as warhead material.

Currently, antimatter has been manufactured (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter#Artificial_production), but remains the most expensive material on our entire planet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter#Cost). ($300 Billion per milligram? Sheesh!)


As designed for use in Germany (against the Russians) you do have a thing where you get a "What's the difference" effect as you scale neutron warheads upwards, but thats within an atmosphere. For use outside the atmosphere, where you might "miss" by dozens of miles, I *think* large enhanced radiation warheads may well be more dangerous than an equally energetic anti-matter explosion.

I agree, BigDon. They may well be more dangerous, and we can conceivably build a 1 GT (or even TT, and exceptionally beyond) fusion weapon.

But why?

Consider International law. It currently forbids that level of destruction.

Also consider - what if you could accomplish your objective by taking out a single person? Or, for that matter, on a much less lethal level, simply disabling their ability to push some button? Wouldn't that be a better solution? Cutting a wire in a place they wouldn't find it until it was all over? Not force on force, but... (that is so WAY old school)

But not really. Consider the disablisation of the infrstructure if we could disable it all without taking out a single person, or even an infrastructure, then would be able to return it all upon terms acceptable to the global community at large (some, perhaps many, of whom depend upon that country's resources but also supply that country with other resources?)

...What if we could change the course of one atom or electron that would disable the enemy's entire ability to wage war? Realistically, though, due to multiple redundancies (mesh topology, in network terms), we'd have to take out more than a few key nodes?

Personally, from what I've read and experienced of warfare (yes, been there, done that), It's extremely preferable to simply disable the enemy's ability to conduct it in the first place than trying to take them on one on one, particular given guerilla and terrorist tactics. Also, I think the other two things that are lacking is training and patience. Not for us. For them. It took us between 1492 and 1776 to forge the foundations of our country, and another three decades before those foundations were finalized. We were helped a lot by the French, in all matters. Most people don't realize that, even though the French finalized most of their government and relations with other countries centuries long before we did, despite their subsequent "makeover" of their own government. Proof in the pudding, their country survived, and remains decidedly French (I've been there. It still is).


Though I think the concept of having a reactive warhead is superfluous once you can create small faster than light engines. "Hey! Don't mess with that anti-matter! It's dangerous and we need it to run the ship! Let's pack up all the garbage and run it into the Borg at 3,000,000 times the speed of light!" (AKA "warp 3" or 3^6 times the speed of light)

(Can intense gamma radiation cause matter to transmute?)

I don't know! But I see what you're getting at. The key thing about the Borg (and I own and have seen several times the entire Star Trek NG series and subsequent movies, and what I call the "Janeway Series" where they deal with the Borg), is that they're the embodiment of mesh topology. There is no central node to kill. Kill 90% of the ship and it's still functional, and still coming after you.

This is the very essence of the change in warefare from marching armies to tactical units to guerilla units to terrorism.

Gee whiz, people, please get it: Our force-on-force military responses vice diplomatic responses has created terrorism. Why? Because we've eliminated all other avenues they have to fight back, and we've not been allowing them to voice their concerns in anything else other capacity. So, they've resorted to the lowest common denominator: terrorism.

This isn't rocket science, folks. It's duh, warfare 101, available in print since more than a thousand years ago. Actually, I think it's closer to 5,000 years ago, though perhaps not available in mass print at the time...If this seems foreign to you, then you haven't "been there or done that."

Or express their opinion. All they want is to survive, prosper, and have some normalcy of control over their own country, including imports and explorts. We must put things in their best interests, long term. If we fail, they fight back.

But if we succeed, both of us win.

Collaboration. It's just the name of the game.

It's simply evolution, people, survival of the fittest. There are ways, however, to minimize the bloodshed and promote collaboration, and that's what we need to concentrate on.

We'd (the US) would like to give them that, but we really aren't very well trained/equipped as to how. Probably better than most, though.

So, in essence, BigDon, you've opened a royal can of worms. We've gone from mass murder for full effect to taking out key points of infrastructure to the enemy's countering of that by spreading everything out.

Hopefully, our enemies won't ever figure out how to do that, because if they do, they'll be difficult to stop.

Remember this: Most wars have been stopped due to the key interactions of politics (including international relations). Personally, I hate politics. But I do recognize it as a necessary evil, and very vehemently embrace it as the most vital alternative to war (which I view as far worse).

Sadly, most countries don't get this right, which is why most countries eventually die.