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Part 1 here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton

Part 2 here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system

In most movies, comics and games the heroes and villains often can take immense amounts of punishment without so much as a scratch. Explosions go off feet away from them, they jump out of multi-story windows without slowing down afterwards and they usually are still at 100% capacity after a carcrash.

So my question is, how could you design a (preferably humanoid) creature to be as shock-resistant as all that? For this question I assume the part 1 question is answered and the skeleton is going to be able to take the shock without lodging itself into organs. If you want, you can assume an exo-skeleton is present. Additionally, this question is about biological solutions that allow a normal body to build, repair and maintain the features without being so synthetic you need to be brought to a shop for repairs after damage.

There's only two options I can think off myself, with limited use for each as far as I can tell. The first is using the same setup as the brain has: A skull or exo-skeleton in this case as you want the entire body to be resistant, then some layers that can absorb shocks and then the organ. You could enhance this with certain materials, perhaps by hanging the organs with spidersilk threads.

The second option is to basically cut the organs into many many independent pieces. If a shock passes through, the pieces will independently move and not rip apart from eachother.

Does anyone have a good solution to allow a humanoid to resist far more damage from blunt forces?

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    $\begingroup$ I have an incomplete thought that I can't seem to flush out, so I'll leave it here. It's a problem of relative inertial frames. You have to disconnect the frames a bit by allowing for more time for organs to accelerate in response to impulse from outside. Like how a helmet allows a head to accelerate over a slightly longer time domain than the helmets shell did. You'll have to do this at the same time you prevent hydraulic propagation of force. $\endgroup$ – Sean Boddy Mar 22 '18 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Sean Boddy I think I know what you mean. I realized that I was asking a question for two problems. The first is the sudden acceleration and deceleration of organs and how to survive it, the second is when an explosion or a car or even just a man punches them, and the shockwave this causes to propogate through the body causing internal bleeding and ruptured organs. I'll change the OP to reflect that better $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 22 '18 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to fat layers to cushion from internal damage, perhaps some form of ceramic-like exterior scutes/scales. Similar to how ceramic body armour for bullets functions by using the fracturing of the ceramic to dissipate the force of a bullet. Enamel, the hardest biological material, is 5 on the mohs scale whereas most ceramic armours are 8-to-9, but with some suitable genetic engineering I'm sure we could make something harder... $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Apr 4 '18 at 10:46
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Meet Graham. He is what a human would look like if he was designed to survive a car crash. This may give you an insight into what you would need to design a human to withstand large amounts of shock.

I would disagree with non-newtonian fluid inside the skin. This would prevent puncturing, but not dissipate any of the shock. In fact, it would create more of an impact because all of the energy is being absorbed by your body rather than passing through it.

You will have to have crumple zones or elastic suspension as you mentioned that prevent the organs from being shocked too much. The biggest issue is getting that kind of real estate inside a creature.

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    $\begingroup$ This is pretty good! I have my reservations about some things, like randomly adding new ways for the knees to bend and hoping some ligaments will solve any instability problems or that removing the neck will help (which will reduce the severeness of injuries and increase crashes that cause injuries), but otherwise it gives some nice idea's to make a humanoid more resiliant to crashes. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 22 '18 at 21:15
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Non-newtonian fluid as part of their skin

Non-newtonian fluid have the capacity to become solid when in contact with a great force. Imagine a skin that is imbued with that kind of fluid (I'm not an expert, so I won't go into details -- just imagine your layer of skin made with flesh and this particular fluid). It would allow your body to move freely, do excercise, and even jump without hardening itself.

But when the skin receives a shock, it would become as hard as steel.

This way, your super soldier remains intact after a shock and can continue its way like nothing happened. BONUS: his skin would crumble if the shock is too much for him to take, emitting heat as it allows him to tank one super attack.

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    $\begingroup$ Which non-newtonian fluid do you have in mind? If you don't have anything specific, this answer is basically saying: "use a material that is able to stop the impact, but in a more impractical manner by making it a liquid". The non-newtonian fluids I'm aware of won't stop any serious physical shock ... some people think they become arbitrarily strong and stop anything, but that's just not the case in reality. Also let's not forget that penetration of the skin might not be the main issue here $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 22 '18 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 when making this answer, I had in mind this video : youtube.com/watch?v=LlEo5MbcaX0, if this can help you get a better view :) $\endgroup$ – Sasugasm Mar 22 '18 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ It might be worth including it into your answer. Isn't this solution basically the same as making the soldier fat? It wouldn't be fat but some liquid, but it would still be a lot of moving wobbling mass around the soldier - which might be particularly impractical around the face $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 22 '18 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't need to be in the same proportion on every part of the body. The head, for example, is already shock-resistant due to the skull being made of Graphene. The other parts would get fatter, of course, but it can be done decently enough to not distort the silouhette too much (think of The Mountain from Game of Thrones, the actor). $\endgroup$ – Sasugasm Mar 22 '18 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldnt this kill the humanoid faster? As an anology: cars (the hardened fluid) from the old days with a squishy human (the organs) inside. People didnt like damage so they made their cars hard and strong. A collision did little damage to the car, but the human was often killed. So we started adding crumple zones to absorb energy by deformation and decrease the peak force of the impact by spreading it out. So unless thr act of hardening absorbs a large amount of energy you've just killed my poor humanoid! $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 22 '18 at 13:43
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Believe it or not we humans already have this! Its a super material that protects vital organs, dissipates shock, and serves as exceptional energy storage! What is this super material we produce?

FAT!

Yeah not something you usually think about when you're talking about super soldiers, but a healthy percentage of body fat will be absolutely necessary for them to function for so many reasons (many of which you can see in my answer on your original post). Besides needing the fat for energy storage, a decent layer of subcutaneous fat would protect a creature against cuts and impact, as fat absorbs the shock wave from severe impact. As long as the bones are strong enough (graphene tubes), the skin can withstand the impact (graphene layer), and the body can repair from any internal bleeding (nanobots), then a layer of fat under the skin will do wonders for shock absorption.

Now there are more extreme versions, but if you want a real life version that you can just take up to 11, you can't really do better than fat. Because, like most biological tissues, it serves multiple purposes, and does them all very well.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm just trying to get the most out of your answer. Fat is a wonderful answer, it's functional, helps the humanoid survive, if the fat is empty it's still functional as shock absorbtion unless the humanoid is so starved it has to canabilize it's own fat tissue. In car/plane crashes or when an explosion goes off it's not a problem if you have lots of fat, but at some point the added weight is going to be lethal when doing things like jumping out of a window as the terminal velocity increases but the fat tissue adds less absorbtion material per organ. Is there any additional solution? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 23 '18 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ As an additional comment, in this video at 2:50: youtube.com/watch?v=djXLI95GJKQ they talk about a sort of incompressible fluid that would line the suit of Iron Man as a way to absorb the shock. Any idea's or suggestions how something like that could help? Water is already pretty incompressible, so maybe lining the exo-skeleton with water at the outside and inside could work? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 23 '18 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ My whole thought that I had was that if you design a super soldier this way, then a simple mechanically assisted exoskeleton would make them nearly indestructible. The only reason I didn’t mention it is because I thought it might be a little outside the scope of the question. Add the graphene tubes in bones, graphene layer in skin, nanobots to repair any damage done, the fat, and a good solid exoskeleton and you have an indestructible super soldier! The incompressible fluid would be a great idea for the exoskeleton as well! $\endgroup$ – Nick Mar 23 '18 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the soldier would be indestructible. Even with all the protection against inertia, the best method would likely be pummeling it to death by bruising the internal structure. Basically they would stop building bullets and start building miniature HESH shells to send shockwaves through the body. Alternatively they could use their super-strength to club eachother and kill off the brain or rip the lungs apart. Also, I intend to have them get shot at with Railgun projectiles moving at about 7000m/s, some interesting answers on this site but still have to ask what they would do exactly. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 23 '18 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Indestructible was a bit of hyperbole I do admit, and what you said Demigan would probably be the best way for them to hurt each other. However they would be incredibly tough. $\endgroup$ – Nick Mar 23 '18 at 21:16
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You need to convert kinetic energy to heat energy (essentially creating a shock absorber.) Interestingly enough, your bones are pretty good at this already because of the collagen braids reinforced with minerals that make up your dense skeletal bone structure. What you need is a type of skin that can convert this shock (protecting your organs) into heat (which can then be dissipated since its right under your skin. As Christian said, (on Non-Newtonian fluids under your skin)

it would create more of an impact because all of the energy is being absorbed by your body rather than passing through it.

So that's helpful--non-Newtonian fluid is not very useful. You might want to create some sort of system that channels it to different structures--like nonessential bones.The most important thing is to protect your organs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Transforming most into heat doesn't seem very possible and an efficient system would quickly need some kind of protection to prevent overheating. But the channeling forces into different structures, that's what I'm looking for I think. How can you channel the shockwave of a hammer to your chest away from your organs and into structures designed to dissipate the shock through movement, heat and pressure? I would imagine some kind of oil-system where a shockwave is transformed into pressure in the oil which can then be released gradually over time when it better suits the creature or something. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 6 '18 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan Even if 100% of the kinetic energy was turned into heat then a .45 magnum round would still only heat 1kg of water by about 0.3°. So it is somewhat negligible $\endgroup$ – P.Lord Aug 6 '18 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ @P.Lord What I was having a problem with would be how to tranform all that kinetic energy into heat on a skin-surface, or even by utilizing the entire body. Also a 0.3 degree increase might be nothing for us, but for a superhuman with already a metabolism that will undoubtedly generate far more far more heat... And if you happen to be in a car-crash that 0.3 degrees of a .45 magnum on a tiny portion of your body will change into a lot more degrees across your entire body. A combination of kinetic to heat and normal kinetic absorbtion seems best here so I'm still interested in this solution. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Aug 6 '18 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ From a story mechanic point of view, this is an interesting approach. It basically means that your super-soldier is indestructible unless they take a really hard hit, such as falling from really high or getting punched really hard. Then they would need to take a minute to cool down. They could fight in a special suit that has a cooling system similar to that used in spacesuits. $\endgroup$ – Ian Johnson Aug 10 '18 at 3:20
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This means that they are made of parallel fibers optimizing their ability to pull along their required vector. Along this angle, you can punish them all you want with a relatively small risk of injury. However, bullets tend to hit the muscles on the sides, which allows them to squeeze between the muscle fibers with relatively little force. If the muscles were woven more like Kevlar, they would be extremely difficult to penetrate. Unlike thicker or harder muscles, woven muscles will not significantly reduce flexibility, but you may suffer from a slight decrease in the pull force, since you are no longer pulling straight.

Perhaps the best option for a natural armor that doesn't seem less human would be to strengthen your person's entire body with a Dura mater .

The Dura mater is the outermost protective membrane that covers your brain and spine. It is exceptionally strong, flexible, and made from irregular cross-woven fibers. A report from the new Jersey public health system shows that the Dura mater of rats can withstand 1.3 million Pascals of stress, which is a lot, especially considering their size. By layering the Dura mater between your skin and striated muscles, your person will look, feel, and move very much like an ordinary person, but when fired from a small-caliber cartridge, the Dura mater fibers will distribute the impact across a large cross-section of the muscles instead of allowing it to simply pierce between them. With distributed impact, your muscles can do what they do well and contract.

By distributing the impact over a larger surface, you would probably tear the skin, many bruises, and some serious muscle inflammation after being shot, but the bullet would be much less likely to be able to hit the main organs.

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  • $\begingroup$ This question isnt about armor, but how to absorb the most amount of physical shock(s). Dura mater is probably a good answer as it is there to protect the brain against shocks. It also shows the limits of its protection: a hard enough shock and the brain will hit the skull wall causing a concussion. Is there protection against concussions? The muscles arent a good answer as they focus on their bullet protection. Also for every fiber you put in a different direction you lose all its strength. So 50% woven in another direction means 50% loss (more even as you have more useless bulk). $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 16 at 15:28
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I'm not sure what you want (resistant to: vacuum, energy, projectile, plus super strength, speed, durability) is plausible in a purely biological system (Unless you go read "Old Man's War", but even that was only mostly biological).

I suggest instead you go fully nanotechnology, to such a degree that you can't tell the difference (at first glance) from biology. Self replicating microscopic machinery that work remarkably like cells, but clearly are not cells, if only due to their operating parameters.

Then you can have all the grapheme skin and bones, light speed reflexes, processing power, and cold fusion stomach to run whatever "organs" you could ask for.

But seriously, go read "Old Man's War". I want a Brain Pal.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why arent you sure what I want? The question asks for physical shock resistance. As in a physical object causes a shock in your body. The question itself contains references to carcrashes as examples. The problem with Graphene skin and bones is that it makes them better protected against shrapnel and things entering the body, but the physical shock of a carcrash would still pulverise organs not made of those materials (like your liver, brains, lungs, digestive system, kidneys etc). This is similar to having a car without a crumple zone. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 16 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Which is precisely why I suggest that everything be artificial. The "connective tissue" and "cell membranes" and so forth can all be carbon based structures of ridiculous strength, hardness, flexibility, whatever, tailored to the application at hand for that particular cell. Should any of these 'cells' break, they can be replaced either by their neighbors or by some central system. I'm proposing an android down to the cells, which really isn't that different from genetically engineered life down to every last strand of DNA. In fact, just do that. There's basically no difference at that point $\endgroup$ – Mark Storer Mar 16 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ I prefer to have the actual way this could be accomplished added to the answer then. I mean if you can make a viable way to make graphene-based DNA strings I'm all for it! I'm ok with handwavium for how it can be created (assuming it can be), but its actual functioning needs to work. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 16 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ You're going to have to hand-wave at some point. You happen to be asking for that point to be below what I am capable of supplying. $\endgroup$ – Mark Storer Mar 16 at 19:41
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I'd design it as being made of a few dozen modular units which are designed to break apart on impact, like a Lego structure . The only damage is the fasteners holding it together. The solider can be snapped backed together with no permanent damage.

Shape can be humanoid or not as you prefer. In fact, Lego-man could be assembled into different configurations depending on requirements.

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