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Strange Matter "is a particular form of quark matter, usually thought of as a "liquid" of up, down, and strange quarks. It is to be contrasted with nuclear matter, which is a liquid of neutrons and protons (which themselves are built out of up and down quarks), and with non-strange quark matter, which is a quark liquid containing only up and down quarks. At high enough density, strange matter is expected to be color superconducting. Strange matter is hypothesized to occur in the core of neutron stars, or, more speculatively, as isolated droplets that may vary in size from femtometers (strangelets) to kilometers (quark stars)"

I have two question:

  • How would an alien species 1,000 years more advanced than us be able to create Strange Matter? A trip to the surface of a neutron star to obtain some is risky at best and suicidal at worst, so they have to find a way to produce a few grams of it.

  • How would you make a strange matter bomb? The biggest problem here is similar to how you would transport and use anti-matter. If the Strange Matter comes into contact with any matter, that matter will be turned into Strange Matter. Therefore I can not think of any plausible manner in which you could transport Strange Matter from factory to usage point so to say.

This is, however, assuming that Strange Matter does convert regular matter and that for some unknown reason it does not convert the entire neutron star into Strange Matter.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, we don't actually know that Strange Matter converts normal matter. The only way that is possible is if the Strange Matter is more stable at zero pressure than normal matter. If that is the case, then you can't get strange matter inside a Neutron star...because it would have converted the entire star into Strange Matter. You may want to clarify your assumptions about Strange Matter. $\endgroup$ – guildsbounty Mar 13 '15 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ so basically it has the same dangers / containment procedures as for Midas' flesh link $\endgroup$ – Fungo Mar 13 '15 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ This is the plot of A Matter Most Strange by Robert L. Forward. He gives realistic depictions of production and handling in a “hard” science short. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 21 '17 at 17:33
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I would guess, that to both collect it and contain it they would need gravity/anti-gravity generators. If the particles don't have poles to manipulate with magnetic fields, then the only other option would be a gravity well container, pushing all the strange matter to the center of a vacuum.

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  • $\begingroup$ Forward described it in a “hard science” manner using 1980’s tech. It’s obvious enough to note that a particle madeup of one each up, down, strange quarks would have zero charge but still have a magnetic moment. The normal bound state of those would be the Σ0; a stable strangelet would be some multiple of this. Anyway, handle it the same way as neutrons. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 21 '17 at 17:42
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Production

As far as I know this isn't even theoretically possible, so we're left with some Wild Ass Guess attempts.

  1. A really advanced particle accelerator might be expected to create some strange matter. This might be random (from say, 1% of collisions) or it might be possible to produce strange matter on purpose by controlling the collisions far more than we can. You could then collect it and use it for your bomb.
  2. Sufficiently advanced nano-construction might be able to manipulate quarks - probably not directly, but through some sort of other atomic processing. I would rate this as being extremely implausible, though.

Containment

You would do this the same way as antimatter - through the charge. Strange matter is generally positively or negatively charged, so you can contain and control it through magnetic fields. As with antimatter, this will put a limit on the accelerations your bombs can take, and failing containment is obviously a Bad Thing.

I do find references that strange matter has a relatively weak charge compared to regular matter, so you'd need extremely strong magnetic fields.

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    $\begingroup$ A particle accelerator would have a hard time. Current physicists are concerned that trying to create strange matter in a particle accelerator would result in temperatures that would 'melt' the strange matter, thus destroying it in the same action that created it ref: lsag.web.cern.ch/lsag/LSAG-Report.pdf $\endgroup$ – guildsbounty Mar 13 '15 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ «Strange matter is generally positively or negatively charged» but strangelets in particular would be neutral in charge. «strange matter has a relatively weak charge compared to regular matter,» what reference? Can you clarify? I would dispute that as stated: the s quark has the same charge as the u quark. Strange hadrons have the same charges (+1,0,−1) as their non-strange counterparts. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 21 '17 at 17:47
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Here's another idea: The strangeness laser. The strangeness laser is an extremely short wavelength laser. Indeed, its wavelength is short enough that its photons carry the energy needed to produce pairs of a strange quark and the corresponding antiquark. And at that energy, I guess it could also mess up the structure of nuclens, to greate a quark-gluon plasma, which it would further enrich with strange quark-antiquark pairs.

I'm no particle physicist, but I guess under such conditions, strange matter could form out of ordinary matter the laser shines on. And if strange matter has the mentioned properties, then forming just a bit of it should be sufficient to ultimately convert a complete planet into strange matter.

So a strange matter "bomb" would simply be a shot with the strangeness laser onto the planet. It wouldn't matter where exactly you hit it (it could also be a cloud in the atmosphere). Whatever is hit by the laser would be turned into a little bit of strange matter, which then would turn the whole planet into strange matter.

Main problem of this would be to prevent the laser itself turning into strange matter. But maybe there's a way to make a "vacuum laser" where the resonator is realized using gravitation (possibly using a small black hole), and the lasing material is a matter-antimatter plasma which gets completely consumed by the lasing process and is produced anew for each shot (so that there is no remaining matter which could be turned into strange matter).

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  • $\begingroup$ Another issue is why such a laser wouldn’t lose energy immediatly through pair production of lighter particles in abundance. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 21 '17 at 17:49
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Magic

No, I'm serious. Use Arthur C. Clarke's definition: "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." An alien species 1000 years ahead of us would be as foreign as the LHC would be to a medieval alchemist.

I would focus my questions on what parts of physics we think will still hold true. For example, it is reasonable to believe the law of conservation of energy will hold true (at least for macroscopic things like bombs). Accordingly, you can assume that a strange matter bomb that yields 100gigatons of explosive power takes at least 100 gigatons of TNT worth of energy to create. Where did they get that energy. If they are extracting energy from tidally locked black holes, the next step of using that energy to "magically" make strange matter doesn't seem like such a stretch. If they have vast interstellar travel capabilities, it is not such a stretch to believe they can skim the galaxy for tiny shreds of the stuff. If they have lived on their planet the entire time, and are just starting to reach out into the galaxy, it is not such a stretch to believe they have the raw discipline to carefully hold and maintain strange matter while they build the bombs over decades without having any accidents. In all cases, it is clear to the reader that some of the fundamental rules are holding solid, but Arthur C. Clarke's definition of magic frees you from having to explain QM to your readers in the middle of your book! That way, you also can't accidentally explain it wrong!

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I can't say much on how to produce it, but it could possibly done in space, for example at a Lagrange point (or in deep space) where the sum gravity forces are null. At that point you would not need to worry about containment either because space itself is containing the matter.

If you can interact with the strange matter, for exampley through its charge, then you can apply a force on it, turning it into a projectile and thus a 'bomb'.

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  • $\begingroup$ Strange matter is particularly unstable so it would decay, even without any external interaction, and thus even in space.. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Nov 22 '15 at 11:43

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