So, in this world, nanites can be best described as COVID-19 on steroids, though they can do other stuff, like disable bio-weapons and enhance crop yield. Some nanomachines can be designed to be as durable as tardigrades or even better/worse.

Micromachines are closer to what you'd expect. They're able to mimic objects to varying degrees (obviously, they shouldn't be subjected to extreme forces (unless they're in an adequate form configuration), open-flame pretty much insta-kills them.

Hybrid swarms (swarms of nano and micromachines) are fairly sophisticated and extremely dangerous. While they probably won't be like a classical grey-goo scenario, nanomachines are able to turn animals into zombies that don't wear face masks and cough on everyone until they die of 24/7 producing nano and micromachines.

Now, one of the most important points in my setting's history is when thanks to humans, a greater nature god falls into despair and becomes a hybrid swarm, several cubic kilometers in volume (it's a bit complicated, but that's all you need to know right now).

The only way to purge was to use a multi-phase weapon of mass destruction, known as The Sparagmos, which pretty much razed everything to the ground.

Phase one: Designating the Area of Operation.

During phase one vehicles, carrying The Sparagmos, move into a position where each individual forms a point of the AO.

Phase two: Sparagmos dispersal and activation

Using the micromachines of the swarm, The Sparagmos disperses into the AO, using the vehicles as a reference point and is then activated.

Phase three: 100% activation

Sparagmos vehicles have heavy-duty generators on them. These are to be activated in phase three, where the vehicles start powering the Sparagmos micromachines and nanomachines through wireless energy narrowcast and induction.

At this stage, Sparagmos nanomachines become active. Forming long chains, they begin to destroy any non-sparagmos matter with various enzymes and acids. The micromachines expel oxidized/reduced matter towards the outer rim of the AO.

Phase 4: Kerblam!

Once all matter in the AO has been "consumed" by The Sparagmos, the swarms forms into a web of thin strands. A high-power flux-compression bomb is then detonated over the AO, disintegrating The Sparagmos.

So, the question is if The Sparagmos would be an effective (no trace of rogue nanomachines left) way to deal with nanomachines? If yes, why would it be more effective than carpet-bombing the AO with napalm or just simply nuking it, assuming geopolitics isn't a player here?

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    $\begingroup$ "Rouge" nanomachines? That is, red? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 3 '20 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP There is a special place in Hell for grammar not-sees. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Jul 3 '20 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ Why not simply make anti-grey goo? Nanites that feed on only other nanites, using their components as a shortcut to build faster. When they run out of nanites to eat, they sit until they encounter more nanites, thus serving as area-denial for anyone using nanites. Harmless to anyone without nanites. Or am I missing something from the question? $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jul 4 '20 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ Would only work if all "nanites" in the OP's world have something in common that nothing else you wouldn't want eaten has. A nanite is just a very small artificial structure that does a thing. It could be made of anything that will do the job. $\endgroup$ – A. B. Jul 8 '20 at 2:29

There might be a chance to work, assuming nanomachines work.

I'll call the mix of nano and micromachines just nanomachines for lazy reasons.

The nanomachines are generally dumb things that do limited specific tasks. In groups, much like the brain, they can do incredible tasks. That being said, each individual machine is still a dumb thing, created to do one or two tasks. Even moving, power and communication could be offloaded to specialised nanites, making each dumb but good at one thing.

There lies the strength and weakness. The Sparagmos swarm is specialised at reproducing at cost of anything not Sparagmos. The nature swarm has a different focus, trying to wipe out humanity. For this purpose it'll have different growing rates of nano and might even spare vegetation and such. That makes more resources available for the Sparagmos swarm.

There are some gripes. Moving a vehicle in, then spraying, then turning them on makes them highly vulnerable. Spraying an active swarm and them moving to the centre of the AO would be more feasible.

You can introduce further specialisation to the Sparagmos swarm, but you can ignore this idea completely. You are referencing enzymes and acid. You could improve your nanomachines with (artificial) biological components. This would further augment the specialisation aspect, making one swarm better killing A (humans and their machines) and the other at eating B (the nature swarm).

Finally, I'm not sure why you would still bomb them. After their task they seem to already have an order to make a web of thin strands when ready. Why not have a kill order? The machine powering them can order it to the nanomachines, or even overheat each in rapid succession with the induction. This saves the machine, which can load up some of the nanomachines beforehand to be completely ready again for going to the next AO.

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    $\begingroup$ Why bomb? Well, it's in the rules, plus it will positively, absolutely kill any leftover stragglers. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Jul 9 '20 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ I think I could argue against a bomb, but on the other hand, there's arguments for. I think you can justify reasons why they use bombs. Even without that it is ambiguous enough to use. Don't let my worries stand in the way of a good story. $\endgroup$ – Trioxidane Jul 9 '20 at 13:38

Not Really

You mentioned a "nature god", which makes me assume that magic is in play for the "enemy" nanomachines, allowing them to cheat all of the normal rules about why nanomachines don't really work.

The Sparagmos appears to be entirely technological, however, which means that they're fighting an unfair battle, since considerations like heat, wind, and similar limitations don't apply to the god-swarm but do apply to them. Beaming sufficient energy to reach the outer limits of the swarm would require line-of-sight, or would roast the swarm closer-in to the trucks. A swarm of nanomachines that is self-powered and genuine gray/green goo (in the traditional science fiction sense) is going to win against a realistic competitor.

The more realistic utilization of The Sparagmos would be in conjunction of what you've already suggested - something like shaped nuclear charges. Detonate four nukes in a tetrahedral pattern containing the target swarm, and then deploy The Sparagmos to ensure that no nanobots escaped. With massive starting numerical superiority, The Sparagmos would be in great shape to stomp out the embers left by the incineration.


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