So it seems that the Nuclear Handgun, Powergun and Absorbic Bomb have all been busted, but this one might be more interesting, Larry Niven's Wunderland Treatymaker.

Description of how the weapon (apparently) works:

"The Wunderland Treatymaker was used only once. It was a gigantic version of what is commonly a mining tool: a disintegrator that fires a beam to suppress the charge on the electron. Where a disintegrator beam falls, solid matter is rendered suddenly and violently positive. It tears itself into a fog of monatomic particles.

Wunderland built, and transported into the Warhead system, an enormous disintegrator firing in parallel with a similar beam to suppress the charge on the proton."

When used, it could form a big gorge on a planet.

I was wondering if there are actual particle beams that can perform something like this. It needs not have this much destructive power, but at least work the way it was supposed to, to disintegrate materials. Assume that there is all the money needed for the particle beams.

  • $\begingroup$ I would not place them here if I knew they were out-and-out impossible. I want to know if they are simply possible, thus hard science. I would only place them in full on sci-fi if I knew it was far too absurd. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ I see. That is what I need. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ What happened to the other comments here? And who made the edit? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 23, 2019 at 0:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You propose an entirely hypothetical scenario involving things well beyond science as we understand it today. This is not appropriate for the hard science tag. $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Nov 23, 2019 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ kwwp in mind that is set hundreds of years in the future, the science of 5oo years in the future is likely to contain a great number of things we today don't understand. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 23, 2019 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


Within the realm of science as we understand it, it's completely impossible. Electrical charge is a fundamental attribute of the electron; the only way to remove the charge is to change the particle into something else.

The overall reaction, though, is possible: it's just electron capture spread out over a large area rather than confined to the insides of a single atom. Point your disintegrator beam at a planet, and you get a rather energetic cloud of gamma rays, neutrinos, and free neutrons coming out (as well as a large chunk of the crust).

(The disintegrator that was the basis for the Treatymaker is considerably more impossible: not only does it perform impossible transformations, it does so by violating conservation of charge.)


As stated from the person above, it would seem that the Wunderland Treatymaker would not work, but the effects could be obtained from a large-area electron capture effect. The new question is what beam could trigger such an effect.

  • $\begingroup$ This isn't an answer, Perhaps it should have been a comment? (also, the ordering of answers under the question isn't fixed, so "the person above" may not be the same person in the future as it is now) $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2019 at 11:49

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