I would like to annihilate an object (approx size of a table), in that I want to make it not exist in any recognizable form. (gamma radiation, etc. would be fine). My knowledge of physics would fit on the back of a postage stamp, but I understand that antimatter is incredibly difficult to contain; that making a black hole small enough to only destroy the table-sized thing isn't possible due to Hawking Radiation... and that's all I've got.

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    $\begingroup$ Please define "recognizable" or "annihilate". One can physically or chemically make an object unrecognizable with a simple hatchet or some fire, but it seems like you're going for more than that. Do we need to destroy the individual atoms that make up this object? $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2020 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ There probably isn't going to be a science-based way to annihilate the object in all possible realities and timelines; There are clearly possible timelines where the object exists and you don't, for instance. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Sep 8, 2020 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Let's clarify the distinction in what transition is acceptable. Gamma radiation is acceptable, but Hawking radiation is not, correct? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 8, 2020 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ What is the thing made of? Is it made of wood like a table? Is it made of solid gold? Is it made of aerogel? We need some details. Some things are easier to destroy than others. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2020 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ What's wrong with setting it on fire? $\endgroup$
    – TylerH
    Sep 9, 2020 at 13:05

9 Answers 9


I mean there’s a lot of ways to do this honestly. Humans are really good at destroying things. So there are a couple ways you can completely ”destroy” something. Let’s break it down.

  1. Physical: Technically your table would still be made of whatever wood it was made of before, but complete physical destruction would turn it into something more resembling sawdust. Definitely not recognizable as a table.
  2. Chemical: Anytime you put anything through a chemical reaction the result is distinctly not the object you started with. Burn the table and you are left with charred carbon, water vapor, and some combination of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. If you burn it completely, no recognizable table will be left. Acid and any other chemical reactions also fall here.
  3. Atomic: Ohh boy now we’re getting into the good stuff. This is taking the table and splitting it apart so thoroughly that you’ve even broken the molecules apart, leaving nothing but the component atoms. The easiest way we can do this now [and I use easily very loosely], is to have it be at ground zero of an atomic/nuclear explosion. Theoretically you could also heat it enough to accomplish this, so maybe throw it into the sun or something.
  4. Subatomic: Now we’re breaking the table down into just protons, neutrons, and electrons. You might do this with a very powerful nuke, maybe, not entirely sure about that one. Again, enough heat would do this too. Maybe you could still toss it into the sun, I’m not really sure about the physics involved here but the energy is very substantial.
  5. SUB-subatomic: Basically quarks and gluons. You would have to apply enough energy in a short enough timeframe to turn the table into quark-gluon plasma. So yeah that’s a lot.
  6. Complete annihilation: Yeah you’re going to have to use antimatter for this one. The result is pretty much heat, light, sound (if in an atmosphere) and radiation. Keep in mind, you use the famous E=mc squared equation to figure out the energy released here. I cannot adequately explain how much energy a table size object will release when it annihilates with an equivalent amount of antimatter. Tsar Bomba will look like a firecracker. Technically you could also accelerate it to a really, really high speed. I think it’s above 90 or maybe 98 percent of light speed, and it will annihilate will equal or more energy produced than an antimatter reaction, but sweet mercy that would take a lot of energy.

All of these methods will result in something that is decidedly not a table anymore. So just decide exactly how throughly you don’t want it to be a table and pick your favorite.

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    $\begingroup$ "Tsar Bomba will look like a firecracker."... my recollection is that Hiroshima was destroyed by the conversion of about 0.75g of matter to energy. A good solid table is going to be what- 100kg? To summarise, there's no end of ways to get it to go FOOF $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2020 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMorganLloyd WolframAlpha gives me 0.7 g of mass-energy conversion for Little boy, so that is about right. The 100 kg of the table, plus another 100 kg for the antimatter would give of as much energy as the earth gets from the sun in ~100 seconds, so yeah, big FOOF. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2020 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ Speaking of FOOF, that one goes on the chemical list - it sets pretty much anything on fire. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2020 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ According to Google, the average dining room table weights about 215lb or 97.5kg. Plug that into edwardmuller.com/index.php?Page=calculator and you get a 4196.8 megaton explosion, aka ~84 Tsar Bombs or about 1/2 of the world's entire nuclear arsonal. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Sep 9, 2020 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ Basically, the table will be annihilated, along with a sizable chunk of whatever continent it happens to be on at the time. $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Sep 9, 2020 at 14:36

Atoms and molecules are identical to each other, so once the object is rendered at the molecular level, it should be as good as annihilated.

You would have to do something like this anyway, since annihilation with antimatter would produce so much energy (about 30 kilotons per gram, or approximately twice the yield of the Hiroshima bomb per gram) that you could never do it in bulk; and if you did, the explosion would disperse the rest of the object every which way. To ensure a complete annihilation you'd need to reduce the object to dust, then annihilate the dust at a slow enough rate to allow energy dispersal, probably somewhere undersea.

100 kg of matter plus as much antimatter yield around 1.25E+11 megajoule, and 2.6 megajoule is what you get heating and vaporizing one liter of seawater. The annihilation would then require to boil and evaporate fifty million tons of water and would reasonably take about twenty years.

Grind it

First, reduce the object to pebble-sized particles. You can use several shredders one after the other.

Further reduce it to dust

Add abrasive powder and weights and run the pebbles through a ball mill for as long as necessary - or sane.

Dissolve in organic solvents

You bubble the dust and wash it with solvents to eliminate most plastics. What remains is grinded again, giving a mixture of cellulose, silicates and metals.

Dissolve in acids

The dust is dissolved in several acids - fluoridric, sulphuric, chloridric and nitric acids will leak away silicates and most metals. Most celluloses will also be attacked by sulphuric acid.

Burn in pure oxygen

This will eliminate most of the remainder as volatile compounds (CO2, H2O etc.)

Burn with chlorine trifluoride

ClF3 is an oxidizer so insanely powerful that it can burn water. You can't extinguish a ClF3 fire with sand because it will set the sand on fire (a hilarious description here). Like in the Bene Gesserit's Litany, where ClF3 has gone, there will be nothing.

In the end, you will be left with several liters of various more or less noxious substances in the form of gases or slush, in which no molecule of the original object will have been left attached to any other. You can dilute them to the point it's safe to disperse them in the environment; for example the iron atoms, reprocessed as iron sulfate, can be usefully fed to flowers.

You might still be able to tell the object has been there from its isotopic signature, so you might want to subject the above mentioned liters (before the final dilution) to a process of nuclear activation (basically, leave it several weeks inside a nuclear reactor's core). As an added bonus, several of the original atoms will now have been changed to different atoms altogether.


Wanna trash your ex's scooter that bad, huh? We've all been there.

The inconvenience with black holes is that it would take too much energy to create one that would gobble your ex's stuff up, and then it would be hard to keep it from growing until it destroys the Earth. Even if you just let it evaporate, it will probably throw out enough radiation to level a few cities.

Antimatter would be less extreme, but would still level many cities - for every pound of matter + antimatter becoming radiation, you release about 20%'ish of the energy of a Tsar Bomba, the strongest nuke ever built. And a light scooter can weight over 200 pounds, trust me. That's a lot of reaction mass.

Why don't you use simple chemistry and everyday physics instead? If you can build a forge that can melt steel, you can melt, burn or incinerate its parts. All it takes (besides the forge) is a toolbox and a lot of patience. The plastic bits will become toxic gases, which you can ventilate into the atmosphere. Some mass from the tires and battery might become ash, which you can throw in the ocean. The metal will mostly change shape - make a lot of small balls and you can mash them with a Blendtec. Then you can throw it in the ocean too. Or you can dissolve the resulting mass with acid.

There, your ex's scooter is gone.

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    $\begingroup$ Renan inc. is not responsible in the event of scooter destroying lawsuits. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Sep 9, 2020 at 14:18

Lots and lots of heat

Heat is when particles move fast, make them move really fast and your substance might melt, keep heating and it might turn into a gas, however, if your substance is flammable (which would help with the problem of it heating up) it will turn into a ball of flames which isn't what we want (although either way its gonna probably light something on fire) basically, heat it up (alot) and boom, its gone


Launch into sun.

I'm assuming this is a mythical item, like the ark of the covenant or something. If it is your ex's scooter there are solutions requiring less delta v.

If you want every atom to cease to exist, yeah this is the best way to do it. Grinding it up with an angle grinder, or burning it, just converts the atoms to some other arrangements. Theoretically it could be reformed by some magic "put all the atoms back together" spell.

In the sun those atoms will undergo fusion. The table's atoms will be comverted to plasma, and scattered, probably converted to oxygen over the billion years, that's the heaviest thing our star can make.

  • $\begingroup$ I can't believe this didn't occur to me. Thank you $\endgroup$
    – C.Vane
    Sep 9, 2020 at 15:18


If this is a wooden table then it should be left in the open, next to a termite nest. Make a container around the nest to cut off other sources of food and otherwise make this area into termite heaven.

You didn't mention time in your question, so leave the area and come back in a few months. Bingo - table gone!


"...in this or any other timeline/universe..."

Since the OP stipulates that there are multiple timelines, I will assume he is going off of Multiverse theory in which anything that can happen will happen in one of infinite parallel universes.

To utterly obliterate the table here and now would eliminate it from this timeline, but fail to obliterate it in parallel timelines.

So, would going back in time to before it was made and stopping its creation work? Well... not really no. According to multiverse theory, you would create a new branch of realities by going back in time in which the table does not exist, but this does not destroy the timelines leading up to you going back in time where you have chosen not to go back to destroy the table.

To destroy the table from all timelines and universes, you need to be able to manipulate existence at the theoretical level of The Box by redefining the table from something that can exist to something that can not exist thus cascading its removal across all possible realities.

NOTE: The OP removed the stipulation "in this or any other timeline/universe" from his question, that said, I'd still say this is the best way (at least in theory) to completely destroy a thing.


I would like to annihilate an object (approx size of a table), in that I want to make it not exist in any recognizable form.

I'm splitting a couple of hairs here, but "annihilate" is defined by recognition in the OP. That means that a new option becomes available-- in addition to changing the object, you can change the perceiver. Does your world have anything that would qualify as perception-altering tech? I'm thinking something along the lines of Douglas Adams' "Somebody Else's Problem field" or the chameleon circuit from Doctor Who. While this doesn't involve the physical destruction of the object, it does not "exist in any recognizable form".


Throw it into an already-existing stellar-mass black hole.

20-40% of its mass will convert to gamma and X-ray radiation, the rest will self-disassemble into subatomic particles and then sink into the black hole for good. With luck, some atoms will escape in polar jets. Some eons later, most of its mass may come back as a Hawking radiation.


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