Anti-matter explosive rounds

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Prophet710 Prophet710's picture
Anti-matter explosive rounds
Is this even feasible?
"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."
Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Given how shock-sensitive an antimatter container likely is, I don't see how you could fire it from a projectile weapon. As a grenade or self-propelled weapon, it might work. Of course, you'd be carrying something more shock-sensitive than nitroglycerin around...
Prophet710 Prophet710's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
so you could theoretically have an antimatter grenade/rocket then? I mean obviously you can in larger yield weapons such as ICBM/StS torpedoes, but, something smaller yield is "possible". How would you go about containing it so it wouldn't annihilate when you go to throw it?
"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
The only real way you'd use antimatter as a part of a weapon would be as some sort of large-scale explosive. You could launch it in space, or set it somewhere and detonate it, but sealing a magnetic containment system within a bullet-sized projectile and all? Just not great... Plus, the radiation release from the explosion is probably a little problematic...
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Prophet710 wrote:
so you could theoretically have an antimatter grenade/rocket then? I mean obviously you can in larger yield weapons such as ICBM/StS torpedoes, but, something smaller yield is "possible". How would you go about containing it so it wouldn't annihilate when you go to throw it?
One problem with this is that the containment unit for housing antimatter has to be much larger than the antimatter it is holding. For instance, the emergency farcaster has an antimatter bottle the size of an orange, yet only holds 10 nanograms... enough to torch the body its contained in, and nothing more. So you're not looking at much antimatter being contained in a portable housing. You need them [i]big[/i].
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kindalas kindalas's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Were I GMing and in a giving mood. I'd give something in the 1-3 kilo ton range that could fit inside a briefcase, or carry on luggage bag. So as a weapon I'd say as a Missile (not micro or mini missile) round. .25 to 1 kt of explodieness but to survive the stupidity of using one I'd also recommend a custom launcher and missile booster for more range. I'd also handwave that a simple Uranium fission device with a compound laser trigger would be just or more explosive and disarm-able with a trusty Hammer. I'd do that so the PCs would have to choose between the merits of a weapon that is always armed, versus a weapon that could be well disarmed with a hammer or hack.
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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
I had these in the Firewall guide to unconventional weapons. They are usually seeker rounds, making use of a gentler acceleration than a kinetic firing mechanism (which is on the order of 100,000 G). Remember, if the weapon knows what accelerations will occur and can compensate for them, then the suspension will hold. My thinking is this: the containment unit is at least an order of magnitude bigger than the antimatter. Let's make that two. A bullet weighs a few grams, and presumably can have a payload of say a gram. That would be mostly containment, with about 0.01 gram of antimatter. That has an energy of about 219 tons of TNT - that beats the Russian FOAB quite handily, but is still far from a tactical nuclear weapon. But it shouldn't be too hard to scale things up a bit... if you are willing to get an even more unstable weapon.
Extropian
Prophet710 Prophet710's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
In this case then, one small anti-matter micromissile would fell a skyscraper. Or any kind of Exsurgent construct save for a nano-cloud.
"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."
MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
It all depends on parameters GM feels are correct for AM containment. How robust is the system (what kind of shocks, accelerations, etc. the mechanism can stand?), size (volume and density for given capacity) and similar (power requirements?). It could be anything from Alastair Reynolds' "Hot Dust" in [i]Revelation Space[/i] (Ie. pinhead for kiloton or two and an absolute security nightmare) to steamer trunk of expensive and ticklish hardware (in which case most crazy terrorists go with proven solution of Old School suitcase nuke). What do you think fits best in the campaign is the way to go, I think. Personally, I'd go with the 'bulky and ticklish' approach; the crazy terrorist standby is not AM, but 'old and proven' laser-triggered suitcase-sized 'pure fusion' D-T warhead. It can be fabricated in any 'jailbroken' matter compiler with very few monitored materials and the blueprints have been spread across the system by Anarchists for a long time. Extremely rugged, detonating flawlessly even after receiving obscene amounts of abuse. Comes with non-stepped variable yield, from one-ton TNT equivalent to 400 kilotons... Sorry, channeling Yuri Orlov there for a bit... :P
Prophet710 Prophet710's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
I'm actually considering anti-TITAN/Exsurgent weapons more here.
"And yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us."
NewAgeOfPower NewAgeOfPower's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Arenamontanus wrote:
I had these in the Firewall guide to unconventional weapons. They are usually seeker rounds, making use of a gentler acceleration than a kinetic firing mechanism (which is on the order of 100,000 G). Remember, if the weapon knows what accelerations will occur and can compensate for them, then the suspension will hold. My thinking is this: the containment unit is at least an order of magnitude bigger than the antimatter. Let's make that two. A bullet weighs a few grams, and presumably can have a payload of say a gram. That would be mostly containment, with about 0.01 gram of antimatter. That has an energy of about 219 tons of TNT - that beats the Russian FOAB quite handily, but is still far from a tactical nuclear weapon. But it shouldn't be too hard to scale things up a bit... if you are willing to get an even more unstable weapon.
Given that the emergency farcaster is "~ size of an orange" and contains ~10 nanograms (MUCH less than 1 centigram) of antimatter, I doubt a much smaller bullet contains .01 g antimatter. I'd be surprised if a bullet could contain even .000000001 g of antimatter. That is still an very high amount of energy, but hardly 219 tons of tnt... In my opinion, larger, industrial sized/spacecraft-type antimatter containment facilities do not scale down efficiently to emergency farcaster sizes... However, I could be wrong, and the writers decide the farcaster contain less antimatter than it COULD for safety reasons only, and your city block razing bullets may indeed be plausible.
As mind to body, so soul to spirit. As death to the mortal man, so failure to the immortal. Such is the price of all ambition.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
It is all a matter of scaling and safety. I think the farcaster uses a ridiculously overdesigned containment unit to make itself amazingly safe, since otherwise no habitats would allow it.
Extropian
Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
From a theoretical standpoint, how would the containment device scale with antimatter payload? The magnetic field needed to hold 10 nanograms, would it really need to be that much stronger to hold 10 micrograms or 10 milligrams?
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Smokeskin wrote:
From a theoretical standpoint, how would the containment device scale with antimatter payload? The magnetic field needed to hold 10 nanograms, would it really need to be that much stronger to hold 10 micrograms or 10 milligrams?
10 micrograms is an amount of mass 1,000 times larger than 10 nanograms, and 10 milligrams is 1,000,000 times larger. So yeah, it could be an important factor.
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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
Smokeskin wrote:
From a theoretical standpoint, how would the containment device scale with antimatter payload? The magnetic field needed to hold 10 nanograms, would it really need to be that much stronger to hold 10 micrograms or 10 milligrams?
I think this would be tricky to calculate. Suppose you have a device rated for accelerations up to a, where the mass m of antimatter is kept suspended surrounded by a vacuum gap of width d. If the suspension is thought of as a spring, the spring constant has to be ma/d or higher to keep it from the walls. For example, 10 nanograms with a 1 N/m constant and a 0.1 mm gap can handle accelerations up to 10 million G. But it would have a resonant frequency of about 300,000 Hz - if something starts to shake it around that frequency it might build up enough oscillation to slam into the wall; how well it can be dampened depends a lot on how it actually is suspended. Now, if the antimatter is magnetic with a magnetization of M (likely about a million A/m, like an iron magnet), volume V and density rho (likely on the order of 1000 kg/m^3), then the total mass m is Vrho and the total magnetic moment MV. In a magnetic gradient DB the force will be DB*MV. Putting it together rho/d M must be less than DB: with these numbers we need a field gradient of about one Tesla/m. (Note that the antimatter volume disappears from the equation: what matters is just the ratio of density to magnetization). One Tesla/m sounds quite doable with current or EP tech. Now, I don't know how magnetic field strength scales with generator size. Looking at the formulas for electromagnets bigger is not necessarily better: higher current certainly helps, but has limits based on the limits of superconductivity. I suspect there is still a volume effect (since field strength is dependent on area and number of coil windings), but having smaller flux paths also increases things.
Extropian
Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Anti-matter explosive rounds
I guess you'd also only need the extreme amounts of buffering at the moment of firing, and that in avery predictable way. In flight, the projectile wouldn't experience much force on it.