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I'm thinking of creating a society with an indestructible material at its disposal, with molecular bonds impossible to break once it has been synthesized and cast. How would a society using this material fight wars?

Properties of the material:

  • It is a greenish metal, the color of oxidized copper with the approximate mass, density, malleability and flexibility of aluminum.

Edit: this means that once hardened, it can't be cracked or broken, but it can bend and deform like aluminum.

It is very common and only found in the region due to an anomaly in the earth's crust when it was formed.

While this indestructible material wouldn't let them wade through bullets due to blunt trauma, what effect would it have on technology and tactics in general?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Efiates, I'm a bit confused by your question; you say the material is indestructable, but it has the malleability and flexibility of aluminium? Does that mean that your material, once set, is deformable but not tearable? Or does it mean that it's malleable when being worked, but sets into a rigid an unbreakable material afterwards? Is it conductive in its set state? How does it react to thermal energy in lieu of kinetic? Sorry to be a pain, but answers to at least some of this will help answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Mar 7 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ So what I mean is once it's cast or solidified it's impossible to break or tear but can bend like aluminum. So it's flexible, but unbreakable.Making a horrible material for armor, but it could have many other uses. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 7 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ With current fluff mentioned it would be all about coatings and shock absorbers. The thinner the coating the better. And if you can get it thin enough, sharp edges that never dull would become a possibility. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 7 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like it would be great for making sailboat hulls and aircraft. It'd make a nice blimp. Also, presumably fireproof, it'd be a great construction material with the benefits of asbestos and none of the drawbacks. $\endgroup$ – Joe Mar 8 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ It's worth noting that metal malleability does involve the breaking of molecular bonds. That's what separates plastic deformation from elastic deformation. If you plan on delving in depth into mechanical properties of your metal, I recommend reading up on the material science involved. $\endgroup$ – Arcanist Lupus Mar 8 at 3:07
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Indirect Damage

Weapons would switch to indirect damage. Unbreakable armour doesn't help you against the thermal damage of a flame thrower or an air fuel bomb. It won't help you against shockwaves, sonic weapons, blinding lasers, chemical and biological weapons.

You will, however, be able to wade through bullets because it would be used as a laminate in armour so its unbreakabilty could be used to its full extent whilst offsetting its flexibility.

Do some reading on Graphene as its material properties is very similar

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You don't specify a technology level for your setting so there are many areas to cover.

The armor is light weight and indestructible, but that doesn't necessarily mean that armor smiths at any point in time know how to make armor that truly protects the entire body. If the best they can manage is a chest plate then the chest is obviously the only part protected At earlier points in history the armor will be somewhat crude and ill fitting with gaps between armor plates, exposed joints, etc. In those time periods things would be just like they were at any similar point in our own history.

But as they get better at making the armor so that it offers thorough protection:

  • Jiu jitsu was originally used for attacking people in armor and it focuses on basically twisting their arms and legs until they break since the person in the armor cannot otherwise be harmed. That type of thing seems well suited to fighting people with super-armor.

  • Many medieval polearms included hooks that could be used to pull an armored rider off their horse. With armor that no weapon can pierce, I would expect to see polearms that are even more specialized at this tactic. Loop or "man catcher" type pole arms to control an armored person. Large hooks to grab legs and pull them off balance so they fall. Very narrow "needle" points that can be pushed through eye slots or small gaps in segments of armor. Swords would likely be narrow epee style weapons that can be threaded through gaps in armor while the armored person is being held or incapacitated. Rondel type daggers would be very useful as well since they were designed for pushing through small openings in armor. At this level of technology things like boiling water or burning oil that can cook them in their armor would also be very effective.

  • As weapons technology advances, things would shift much more towards NBC weapons. Boiling water and burning oil would evolve into mustard gas and nerve toxins. You don't say whether this material conducts electricity but if it does then taser type weapons might be a good option. There might also be more emphasis on things like sonic weapons to deafen and disorient people or lasers to blind them.

It is also important to consider the impact on rest of the setting. If every house is made of this common and indestructible material than every house is effectively a castle or bunker. If cars are made out of it then every car is an armored personnel carrier.

And while it is not directly related to combat, I have to wonder what impact this material would have on society as a whole. If it is indestructible then what happens when you don't need it any more? A set of armor made of the stuff will never break, right? So (using our timeline) when it is the late medieval period and we have these advanced Maximilian armor suits being produced, what do you do with all of the leftover armor from ancient Greece and Rome? If you have an indestructible one room shack then what happens when you want to build a larger and more modern structure on that location? When your ancient ancestors built a motte and bailey castle with walls clad in this material, how do you tear it down and build your more modern tower? It may not be an issue at the time your story is set but at some point this world would need to come to terms with the fact that indestructible materials are bad for landfills.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 thats a great implication I never thought of. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 8 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ I guess you could always crush the house back into a ball of the stuff, roll it back out into the shape of a bigger house with a giant rolling pin $\endgroup$ – Stephan Mar 8 at 15:58
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What you have there is the perfect weaponized Cling Wrap. As long as you make the material stick to itself (its untearable and malleable, so I assume the molecules will connect to themselves and ignore micro and nano flaws due to foreign particles in the material and cracks due to internal stresses). What you do is stretch out the material until it is 1 molecule thick effectively giving you indestructible Cling Wrap. You then launch this Cling Wrap at anything and everything you want to.

If its a person, Cling Wrap them. They will eventually suffocate as the material adheres to itself and creates an indestructible cocoon.

If its a projectile, hang sheets of cling wrap from a pole driven into the ground. The Cling Wrap is indestructible and should (with the proper design) transfer all of the energy into the ground, creating an indestructible barrier.

If its a missile or nuke, just launch Cling Wrap at them. They should encase the bomb and protect everything on the other side as the explosive force will be mostly reflected along the material as it can't tear or pierce the 1 molecule thick Cling Wrap. Alternative, you could coat your cities in a cling wrap done, supported by massive poles and pegs to keep the material taunt.

Finally, since you have this perfect indestructible material you can build a space ladder, giving you cheap and affordable access to space. From there, you can deploy an armada of satellites and commence with the orbital bombardment of your enemies.

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To take a page from Earth history, as plate armor became more and more common, weapons did modify to meet those challenges.

As others have mentioned, blunt-force weapons became more in use. While the plate armor wouldn't break, it also wouldn't totally dissipate the force of a blunt hit.

To counter blunt force trauma, you'd need something able to actually absorb the shock so wearing a padded armor like a gambeson underneath may be something to consider. In addition another thing knights with plate would use were heater shields which were thicker than your average shield and would be used to intercept those blows that could do some real damage to them despite the plate.

Another development is that swords became much more tapered to come to a thinner point. Consider the gladius to later medieval swords. If you look at an image of a gladius, you'll notice it has relatively the same width throughout the blade until coming to the point where it's "rounded" off. Whereas later Type XVIII swords tapered through the whole length of the blade. And these were used in a style where you'd go for the weak points in a person's armor. The places plate armor couldn't protect. (Usually joints like an armpit, elbow, or thighs were being able to move was important.) These swords were also used with a half-swording method.

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You also mentioned that they wouldn't be able to wade through bullets due to blunt trauma so perhaps your armies would be prone to having higher caliber weapons. In older times you might have more use of weapons like the arbalest, essentially a more powerful crossbow, which is able to deliver a decent amount of force. Or in general higher amounts of artillery than you see in real history due to the force large weapons can generate.

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With this armor:

For personal protection, make some sort of plate armor. You'll have to discover the right trade-offs in coverage, thickness and padding against your enemies and their available weapons.

In industrial age combat, use tanks. Smoosh your enemies like the bugs they are!

Against this armor:

Bash the people with hammers of some sort. Apply lots of blunt force to bruise them inside their turtle shells. And molotov cocktails.

Set up lots of moat/trench type obstacles to make the armored invaders get too exhausted to fight. Then poke ice-pick like weapons through their eye-slots when you've got them down on the ground. Or flood the trenches and drown them.

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If this will be within modern technology then your question is pretty much answered by another answer, but here is my idea if its medieval

1) Ledge them

  • The fighters who can ledge the opposing team will win, like the 300 Movie

2) Pitholes

  • Deep pitholes can trap enemies, then bury them alive

3) Rolling them over with big boulders

  • Then ensuing trauma can buy you time to strip them off the armor, then kill them

4) Food and water poisoning

  • Kill them at their own backyard, no armor needed

5) Smoke from massive fire

  • Depends if used on the battlefield or at their own homes, if used in the battlefield then expect collateral damage.

TLDR: the war will be a battle of attrition, not from full geared marching army, if a armor is indestructible then the tacticians will try to find a way to kill the person inside them with or without the armor, which renders the armor completely useless.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, armor is merely a means to an end, or a device that shrugs off enemy attacks so you can close the distance and counter or attack with things of your own. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 8 at 11:28
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Your postulated metal may be indestructible, but flesh in bone is not. I would utilize a weapon like the Hesh Round that would cause damage by mechanical spalling.

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    $\begingroup$ There won't be any spall damage form indestructible armor. Or do you really mean the shock wave damage? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Mar 8 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ I think he means that the HESH round would deform the armor in such a way it'd crush the guy inside. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Mar 8 at 11:29
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Acids might be able to mess with the metal, metal can conduct electricity. Much more likely is a cyber attack, disease or bunker busting weapon.

Edit: what about damage to the mechanism on the doors? Ans pls fashioned siege warfare can still kill quite a lot of people and destroy quite a few towns. Infiltration is still possible as are covert raids on the unsuspecting.

Caltrops for horses and Czech hedgehog spikes for tanks

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