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Old 05-16-2018, 12:32 PM   #1
Tom Mazanec
 
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Default Monomolecular blades

Why are these superscience? Couldn't Drexlerian nanotech make one?
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

As I understand it (I am not a material scientist!), the superscience bit isn't in making monomolecular strands, it's in their effects. Basically, the ideas that a monomolecular strand would be a) very strong, and b) capable of cutting through virtually anything are the "superscience" bits.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
As I understand it (I am not a material scientist!), the superscience bit isn't in making monomolecular strands, it's in their effects. Basically, the ideas that a monomolecular strand would be a) very strong, and b) capable of cutting through virtually anything are the "superscience" bits.
^ This pretty much.

To be more clear, "Monowire" tech is often found in many cinematic sources. And example that always comes to mind is the Battle Angel universe.

http://battleangel.wikia.com/wiki/Mono-molecular_wire

The idea is it's nigh indestructible, never dulls, never snaps from weight, can be formed to whatever shape, and can cut through materials often seen as too hard to cut.

If you were to take a scissors to monowire to snip it, bye byte scissors!
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

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Originally Posted by GodBeastX View Post
To be more clear, "Monowire" tech is often found in many cinematic sources. An example that always comes to mind is the Battle Angel universe.
I was first introduced to monowire in Neuromancer, wielded by a sarariman corporate assassin who manages to get himself killed with it [1]. I also saw it pop up a lot in Larry Niven, where it somehow magically cuts everything except when you want it to just be a super strong thread to hold your backpack together.

There's no explanation for why a single thread of atoms (aka a very thin bit of metal) is somehow stronger than multiple threads, the magic immunity to having its own bonds broken, and is somehow completely immune to chemical reactions.

[1] Although as mentioned in the book, what really kills him is the culture shock and bad music.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:17 PM   #5
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

Drexlerian nanotech is superscience, but monomolecular strands of various long-chain molecules are technically possible. They're more of a dust hazard than a weapon, though. The closest equivalent to monowire would be a single carbon nanotube strand, but while single-walled carbon nanotubes are theoretically very strong (~10^11 Pa), they're also incredibly small (~10^-19 m^2), which still isn't very strong in absolute terms.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I also saw it pop up a lot in Larry Niven, where it somehow magically cuts everything except when you want it to just be a super strong thread to hold your backpack together.
IIRC, the magic explanation for Niven's monofilament blades is that they were surrounded by a stasis field. The one-atom-thick object was, for all practical purposes, encased in an absolutely unbreakable force field.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I was first introduced to monowire in Neuromancer...
For me it was shigawire in Dune... though the first time it was called monofilament wire for me was in Stand on Zanzibar.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

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Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
IIRC, the magic explanation for Niven's monofilament blades is that they were surrounded by a stasis field. The one-atom-thick object was, for all practical purposes, encased in an absolutely unbreakable force field.
The "variable sword" weapon was indeed that, but Niven also mentions "Sinclair molecule chain" as separate, un-stasis-fielded stuff, and claims it's "fantastically dangerous", and that you can cut off various extremities if you're incautious about it. The stasis field on a variable sword seems to be mostly about making the monowire blade easy to control, rather than making it somehow sharper or more resilient.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

Incidentally, monomolecular in Niven applies to more than blades. A General Product hull is "an artificially-generated giant molecule, with the inter-atomic bonds artificially strengthened".
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: Monomolecular blades

In GURPS Tales of the Solar Patrol, the Overlord of Jupiter has his infamous monomolecular blade, but then his character writeup has him with Force Sword skill. The monomolecular blade has no stats in the book. I can't tell if the author is thinking of monomolecular blades as light sabers, or if he just chose the wrong skill.

My preferred fix is to change his Force Sword–related skills to Rapier-related skills, and make the monomolecular sword a monowire rapier per GURPS Ultra-Tech p. 163.
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