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Traveller is prone to creating a variety of odd weapons at higher Technology Levels, and I think it would be interesting to look at some of them.

In this case, a Nuclear Damper is a passive defensive device which creates an interference field in which the strong nuclear force can be manipulated. A series of nodes and anti-nodes are created, either to enhance or degrade the strong nuclear force. Manipulation of nuclear forces can render nuclear weapons fundamentally inert.

More specifically, focusing a negative node on incoming nuclear warheads lowers the potential barriers around nuclei, thus suppressing the strong force; the warheads shed neutrons at very low energies and are rendered harmless after a short exposure. Both fission and fusion warheads are affected, as fusion warheads use a fission trigger to create the heat required for the fusion reaction.

Assuming we have all the resources we need, I ask if such a shield is possible. If not, then feel free to express your ideas on making a Nukeproof Shield.

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    $\begingroup$ What you are writing doesn't really make sense, but the basic idea is clear. Just go techno babble and make up a nuclear inhibitor particle and everything is fine. But reality has shown again and again that the best shield vs nuclear weapons is a strong international community and good diplomacy. That's also way cheaper than a sci fi field that does good knows what with the people living inside $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 26 '19 at 8:55
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    $\begingroup$ if negative nodes lower potential barriers & nuclei release more neutrons that is more likely to trigger a chain reaction. More probably, leading to a nuclear detonation. Less likely to suppress nuclear weapons, more likely to make them explode. Can't help loving a science-fictional mechanism that produces the very thing it is trying to suppress. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 26 '19 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ Nuclear weapons are so terrible in themselves that this acts as the strongest deterrent to their use. OK. The High Commands of some nations are keen on nuking their enemies. But if they do so, the rebound will be massively counterproductive. Brains not brawn are better at stopping nuclear weapons. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 26 '19 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android I think you'll find that militaries are not at all interested in triggering a nuclear armageddon -- their goals are to win, not to die extravagantly. Threatening all-out nuclear war tends to be more something done by civilians or college sophomores. (Though the military is pleased to use MAD as a threat to keep anyone else from using nukes against them.) $\endgroup$ – Mark Olson Dec 26 '19 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ If this is supposed to be used against nukes in a space battle it is useless, because nukes are useless in a space battle. Point Defense is a much simpler solution to this problem. Point Defense and your field as well can be countered by using nukes creatively. As nuke pumped lasers or on nuke pumped particle beams. Those weapons detonate the nuke thousands of kilometers outside the field and still kill the target. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Dec 26 '19 at 18:18
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Just science fantasy. Moreover, it is clearly not a defensive system, but an extremely dangerous weapon... control over the strong force at a distance in this way allows you to create an elemental trasmutation gun or bomb, which would kill living things, wreck electrical, electronic and photonic systems and degrade armour, etc etc. If it required less energy to operate than the binding energy of the target nuclei, it would also be a perpetual motion machine that would eg. let you take the waste products of a fusion reaction and have them decay back into lighter elements which can then be re-fused. If it doesn't work on light nuclei (because of magic) then there's nothing to stop anyone making laser- or antimatter-triggered fusion weapons to replace their fission-based systems.

For a non-military use, increasing the strong force might allow you to create (temporarily) stable superheavy elements, possibly allowing a route into an island of stability, though you might still have issues with decay mediated by the weak force.

Practically, if you can "[focus] a negative node on incoming nuclear warhead" then you may as well just shoot the damn thing. Given the tech levels involved, someone should have invented point defenses and interceptor missiles that don't suck.

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent point about pretty much any plausible damper field also being able to detonate normally stable matter. $\endgroup$ – Mark Olson Dec 26 '19 at 14:10
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Well... (1) no and (2) overkill.

(1):

Assuming we have all the resources we need, I ask if such a shield is possible.

Sorry, no. You simply cannot manipulate electrons like that. Correction: you can, but it uses a completely different area of quantum mechanics (the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle). Using this approach, you study something so completely that the added energy makes it go "boom." While this would certainly work, it is not what you are looking for.

EDIT: I re-read your question, and apparently I missed the part about "it keeps the nukes from exploding." Sorry, but once you have weaponized critical mass you cannot remotely disable it; you can only hasten its explosion.


(2):

Focusing a negative node on incoming nuclear warheads lowers the potential barriers around nuclei, thus suppressing the strong force.

Sorry, but nullification of the warhead is not what happens. That being said, you have created a potent weapon: The Reality Bomb from Doctor Who. Although your device does not completely cancel the Strong Force like the Reality Bomb does, any reduction in the Strong Force powerful (or, rather, un-powerful) enough to nullify a nuclear warhead is also strong enough to cause matter to literally fall apart. Now, all you need is a medusa cascade + 27 perfectly aligned planets...

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While a fission bomb is used to trigger a fusion reaction, a fission reaction requires a chemical reaction to trigger it, and that requires a very precise electronic detonator system. So, if you want to disable a nuke, you just need to mess with the detonation chain upstream of the fission reaction.

This gives you two clear soft spots on the nuke:

  1. Detonating a fission bomb requires an explosion timed with such precision that force waves are calculated to converge in just the right spot all at once to begin your chain reaction. If you hit a nuke with just about any normal point-defense weapon and it explodes somewhere random instead of at the precisely calculated trigger point, then the shock wave from the chemical reaction will spread out instead of converging, thus blasting the nuke to pieces without triggering a nuclear explosion. The bad news is that you still have what is essentially a dirty bomb which will still kill a lot of people, but not nearly as bad as an actual nuke.

  2. Target the electronics systems. An EMP weapon could disable the onboard detonation system causing the weapon to impact the ground without detonating anything at all. Still a dirty bomb problem if the chemical explosive goes off on impact, but not nearly as bad since you won't be raining radioactive material over nearly as large of an area by airbursting it.

Even with your solution for manipulating strong force, you still have a dirty bomb to contend with since you still have all that uranium going everywhere on impact; so, the best solution for dealing with a nuke is going to not just disable it, but prevent it from exploding from impacting at all. For this I would suggest combining an EMP with some sort of repulsor, tractor beam, or inertia damper technology to either fling the nuke back into space or gently set it down after disabling its detonator. This will give you your scifi futuretech feel you are after while actually contributing functionality that modern tech can not already achieve.

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