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Frankly speaking, I haven't come up with a design for my dragon; however, I want to design a dragon that can feast on the energy released from the constant bombardment of cosmic rays (either solar or interstellar high energy particles) with the air molecules in the Earth's atmosphere and discharge the stored energy from matter-antimatter collisions into its surroundings to blast away its enemies. I'm having difficulty deciding whether to go for a biological version or a mechanical one since I know gamma ray do lots of damage to DNA, but the charged particles would short-circuit electronic components.

My question is, do I go a for biological or mechanical dragon and how can my dragon go supernova without dying? Using late 22nd century technology and DNA splicing (hybridization), I need you to help me to design a dragon that can turn the tide of battle.

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    $\begingroup$ Magic? I bet the answer's magic. Or handwavium. Either should work. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 6 '15 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I already expected much no worry this isn't the first time magic turns up as answer to my questions.😃 $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 6 '15 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Erm, only stars go supernova, and that has (generally, when not factoring in pair production) nothing to do with antimatter. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 29 '15 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Generally there is no star left after going supernova. $\endgroup$ – Toby Allen Aug 29 '15 at 21:35
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Well... I work with antimatter as a Physicist and I could object that your dragon would probably not have enough energy to do anything :(

Let me explain it a little bit better: the big problem with antimatter is confinement: antimatter has the tendency to annihilate with matter, so your dragon should have a built-in electromagnetic trap inside his own body in order to store the antimatter needed for his attacks. Furthermore, even in this case the quantity of antimatter it could store is realtively small (10^9-10^10 particles with potentials of the order of 10 kV and magnetic fields of the order of 5-10 T). Moreover, said trap could be used to collect only low-energy particles, which are a really small fraction of the cosmic rays you want to exploit. So, it would be biologically unfeasible.

Maybe, a mechanical dragon could prove more effective, provided that it could store some milligrams of antimatter (1 gram = Nagasaki atomic bomb when annihilating with matter), but it would probably require too much energy to store it and to mantain the trap active (thus preventing the dragon to blow up himself). See this Wikipedia link as a further reference.

So, my answer is you can't in a world similar to ours, at least relying on the current laws of physics.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! I find it fascinating that you work with antimatter, yet here you are, joining our humble community of worldbuilding amateurs and fanatics. Out of curiosity, what drew you here? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 6 '15 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you very much :D I usually write short novels and create some small video games to relax my mind ;) This is why I find fascination in browsing this site and all the subsites: they give me lots of inpiration :D $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 6 '15 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ You are welcome, but I think that someone could have come up with some handwavium to justify this :D Everything depends on the amount of reality you want in your world: if it's a sort of Final Fantasy world, I wouldn't see it too badly (hey, we have even a Bahamut which uses the Moon as a giant mirror for its own particle beam!) :D $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 6 '15 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @GreĝRos Well, as far as I know, the only containment mechanism is given by electromagnetic traps, by various degrees. This is the only one which allows you to store charged antimatter for a certain period of time. In principle, with arbitrary electric and magnetic fields, you could contain as much antimatter as you wish (you should give a look to Penning trap equations, for instance), but in practice it's really difficult to exceed 40 T field and voltage of the order of the MV in portable (i.e. room-sized) setups. $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 7 '15 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ -continues from above- Moreover, you need a good vacuum in your apparatus: each matter particle which enters your trap is a a potential annihilation. If I remember correctly, you can manage to mantain antiproton plasmas in Penning traps for about half an hour losing only a 10% of the particles, but it obviously depends on how good is your vacuum. BTW, you can store even neutral particles by applying fields which vary with time, but it's a bit harder (though definitely feasible). $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 7 '15 at 16:20
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Andrea Jens' answer is pretty much unassailable (can't top first-hand experience!) but here's a hand-wavery kind of answer that may give you some ideas for how to adapt your original idea:

1) Containment: as Andrea explained, you need a magnetic trap to contain antimatter, and it would be very difficult (if not outright impossible) for a living creature to sustain such power levels. So I suggest that the beast be engineered with plutonium slugs in its heavily-armored spine which can fuel the containment fields within its gut.

2) PewPew!: The beast could have a metallic weave internal along the antimatter-storage pouch, leading along its throat and out its mouth. When it wants to destroy something in front of it, it would stretch the normally spherical field into a needle-width tube that sprays an extremely narrow stream of antimatter (on the order of milligrams, as Andrea suggested). The magnetic containment field would end shortly after its teeth, causing the antimatter to violently detonate in whichever direction the dragon was aiming.

3) Additional considerations: since the field would be passively supported by a nuclear reaction, rather than the dragon's organic processes, it would be maintained even in the event of the beast's death (as long as its gut or spine weren't blown up). In addition, it wouldn't have any way of generating its own antimatter, so it would have to be supplied externally (possibly it would be "born" with a 10g supply, and use only a few milligrams for a sustained burst).

4) An all-natural alternative: if you wanted to mix a fantasy and sci-fi setting, and have an antimatter-blasting dragon without needing genetic engineering, you could use the same suggestions above, with the additional caveat that the creature would slowly accumulate the necessary raw materials within its skeleton over the course of millenia. So, younger dragons would spew radiation clouds, older ones would be able to shape the radiation with magnetic fields, and ancient dragons would have a small amount of antimatter (accumulated over millenia) to fire.

Again, it's all handwavium, but hopefully there's something here you can use to bolster your original idea.

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    $\begingroup$ This is really interesting and I would propose it as accepted answer, since it's like having found the "other wavy way around"! Upvoting! :D The only "flaw" is how to generate/accumulate 10 grams of antimatter ;) At CERN, from the beginning of LHC, they have produced something like some picograms (10^-12 grams) of antimatter in several years (if I remember correctly), and cosmic rays - though should contain more - are quite too energetic to be trapped. So, I would just use some more handwavium to justify the quantity stored ;) $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 7 '15 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ *breaking into 2 comments due to character limitation * As a side note, the EM traps usually work at cryogenic temperatures (4.2 K) because they usually employ superconducting magnet to generate such big fields. However, I think that this is a thing that can be overcome with less effort (considering next century technology as OP said) :P $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 7 '15 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the vote, it's intimidating to brandish handwavium in front of actual physicists. And the cryo requirement adds another interesting wrinkle...maybe organic "heat pumps" could lower the dragon's antimatter gut sack (didn't expect to type that today) temperature to near 4K. Then they could also use that relocated heat to breathe regular fire...and they'd always radiate significant heat otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Liesmith Aug 7 '15 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ Don't fear using handwavving: this is fantasy, not reality! :D People who try to rationalize everything are too boring - and the plutonium-empowered-antimatter-firing-mecha-dragon it's so damn cool even only as a concept that everyone would forgive it not to be "Physics-law-compliant" :P $\endgroup$ – Andrea Jens Aug 7 '15 at 14:20
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Well as mentioned you need a biological or magic way to contain the antimatter. If we are already talking about dragons that can project breath attacks, then it's not too far fetched to have one that mixes antimatter into his.

Your Dragon will probably expel some manner of graviton waves so they can carry the antimatter to the target. However this Dragon will probably have a very finite limit of times or at least a great delay between when he can use this attack.

I would also argue that this would be a dragon accustomed to the void or something similar, which is why he would use such an attack. Basically, and environmental reason for not basing his breath weapon off something more easily attained. Extreme circumstances tend to generate extreme creatures

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