Civilization X needs to explore nearby exoplanets using nanobots. These nanobots are made of singular (relatively large) molecules. These react with common gases in the atmosphere, acting as a catalyst and making more nanobots. This reaction leaves behind oxygen and consumes toxic gases, eventually making the planet habitable to humans. This reaction only proceeds at liquid water temperatures, and also leaves unique 'marker' chemicals, allowing members of X to see potential destinations for interstellar flight using spectroscopy.

These nanobots are deployed by packing them into a shell around a chemical/nuclear/antimatter bomb and detonating it, releasing vast quantities at well past escape velocity of the small star that Civilization X orbits.

How could the nanobots survive the extreme temperatures (and radiation, if using nuclear/antimatter bombs) of the explosion?


  • No indestructible/unrealistically strong materials
  • At least 1% of the bots must survive.
  • The bots must make it to an exoplanet.
  • The nanobots must be distributed uniformly, making a sphere shape.
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding flhl1010, please take our tour and read our help center for guidance as to our ways. Enjoy the site. $\endgroup$ Jun 1 '21 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion. The nanobots can be dispersed by a second step from the pusher plate after the primary detonation. $\endgroup$ Jun 1 '21 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I clarified the rules about nanobot distribution, hopefully this helps. $\endgroup$
    – flhl1010
    Jun 1 '21 at 0:39

Converting nuclear explosions to spacecraft propulsion has been studied before, in the form of nuclear pulse propulsion. In the original studies, a nuclear bomb specially designed to detonate in a directional way is placed in a mechanism so that its blast is aimed against a pusher plate mounted to a spacecraft with shock absorbers to provide thrust low enough for humans and cargo to tolerate.

In this scenario, the specially designed directional nuclear bomb isn't even needed. The bomb is surrounded by a spherical shell formed of individual pusher plates. After the bomb is detonated and the pusher plates are underway, a secondary stage can be triggered (e.g. using gas pressure or low powered explosives) to disperse the nanobots evenly across the directions that each of the pusher plates are travelling to give a perfect spherical dispersal.


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