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So I'm already knee deep learning about science stuff for what I'm working on, but these two questions seem to have snagged me.

Of note, I am looking at these issues from a highly technological standpoint, so assume the best tech is available but space magic isn't. Assume wormhole tech is also abundant.

When thinking of space ships designed for combat, they are basically just giant weapons with engines. Odds are, you would want the biggest gun possible. I seek a science based way for a weapon that isn't based on physical ammo. It would have to be long ranged, or at least have a decent range.

Considering this, I thought about a gravity wave based weapon, as opposed to using lasers, particle and ions as a basis for the damage. Please keep in mind I'm not looking to create a black hole with this weapon, instead to fire a line of... whatever. Assume energy supply is more or less not an issue. Having a deployment delay makes sense.

Could a Meson Accelerator type weapon could be made that creates damage mostly physically rather than just through radiation? Or could it be improved so the radiation basically resembles something like a solar flare?

Edit: There's been some good feedback, talking about using wormholes to connect to a highly hazardous stellar object and point it's effects at the target. This has my thoughts going towards wormhole stability based on the energy transfer.

I'll narrow down another thought: What could a vessel generate on it's own power and local area that could be weaponized in this way? Assume lasers and stuff could be made massive enough to qualify, but we are looking for another type of weapon.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Someone already directed me to Atomic Rockets which has been very useful for much of my research, but these two aren't really covered there.

Edit 2: Would usage of electromagnets to create generate gravity waves in a condensed form achieve these results? Would electromagnetism be better used to fire physical ammunition or could direction of charged particles be used instead?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'll consider it, though my reason was both questions may have a similar answer and were mutually related. Is there some sort of posting guidelines for the website someone could link? I didn't see anything at first glance. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 12 '15 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ There is a help center worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help - in particular worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask and worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic - the tour is worth looking at as well. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 13 '15 at 10:56
  • $\begingroup$ Your question is on topic but it's two separate questions really, since we have answers for the second question I'm going to remove the first from this one. Please feel free to post it as a new question though (you can see it in the edit history). $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 13 '15 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ I went ahead an corrected the title to better reflect the question. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 13 '15 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I think classical lasers are the way to go for you. It's simple, doesn't require any handwaving and also doesn't require spending mass in anyway. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jun 29 '16 at 18:58
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I have a dear friend with whom I share a deep love of science fiction writing. One day, he told me something that I find to be rather profound: "If you can control gravity, then controlling gravity becomes the least cool thing you could do with that."

I understand your need to develop energy weapons that have a reasonable working theory. I'm not going to shoot you down necessarily, but do bear in mind that many, many writers have tried this, and it almost always employs serious handwavium for a reason. If the basis for any of these weapons were particularly possible, it would probably have a counterpart in the real world. For instance, the fictional meson accelerator weapons could target individuals and buildings through a planet without missing. Don't miss out on writing the next epic space opera trilogy just because you feel the need to be very specific. Star wars never bothered to explain its weapons, they just worked.

Now, on to the weapons - I cannot for the life of me imagine why kinetic weapons are off the table. A bowling ball moving at 99.999999999 the speed of light is exactly what you are looking for. At that speed, anything you shoot at will be unable to tell that it was a bowling ball - upon impact it will degenerate into a mess of subatomic interactions that will look an awful lot like a nuclear weapon detonation. Surely building a cyclotron accelerator for a bowling ball is trivial to a civilization that can generate stable wormholes?

Another point of caution. This wormhole thing may get out of hand faster than you think. Provided that you can arbitrarily connect two points in space and time, you just win, without further discussion. Why not connect the enemy fuel tanks to their crew cabin? Why not put their ship in front of their weapons? Why not suck the entire crew out into space? Or connect their faces to their butts? There is a very good reason "ancient" or "lost technology" is a recurring theme in a lot of science fiction - if the protagonist has a great degree of control over something cool, you have the Superman problem of finding bad guys that pose a threat.

Again, I would urge you to consider employing copious amounts of handwavium and unobtainium to build weapons with cool-sounding names and pseudo-scientific mechanisms. The meson accelerator is one totally reasonable example. Neutron bombs, rail guns, and lasers/masers/gasers are real. "Blasters" - as in, beams of light that don't move at light speed and act like sci-fi machine guns - can be reasonably explained as throwing metal pellets through a electromagnetic contraption that makes them wildly hot and accelerates them violently. One could also make a reasonable argument for "plasma weapons" that can quickly build a specific geometry of high energy plasma that is relatively self-contained until it strikes a solid object. You may also want to look into Von Neumann machines and universal assemblers. Beyond that, you're totally making it up, so make it awesome.

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  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the wormholes, I was working with the idea they were slow to form, thus weaponizing them doesn't really work well. As for the weapon, I'm just trying to figure out if ignoring physical ammo could work since I'm trying to keep science grounded in science. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 14 '15 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ All your call to make. But I can't imagine a slowly increasing gravity well not being incredibly disruptive to shipboard operations. "Why am I walking on the ceiling now?" "Where the hell did my tools go?" "My leg!" $\endgroup$ – Sean Boddy Aug 14 '15 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Or connect their faces to their butts? Upvoted. $\endgroup$ – Grimm The Opiner Oct 26 '17 at 11:36
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Project Rho has a marvelous section about conventional and exotic weapons used in space. Conventional style weapons are kinetic and beam weapons and missiles. An example of an exotic weapon is the Meson Accelerator, which if it were possible to make, would render armor obsolete. Basically, the MA accelerates a particle to particular speed so that when the meson decomposes, it does so inside your target leading to a spray of nasty radioactivity that kills the crew. The Project Rho treatment of space weapons is pretty extensive and includes plenty of equations to justify its assertions.

When attacking an automated drone, a meson accelerator would be just as damaging as when attacking a manned ship. Special precautions need to be made to ensure that radiation doesn't damage the electronics or cause erroneous results. From the article on radiation hardening.

Environments with high levels of ionizing radiation create special design challenges. A single charged particle can knock thousands of electrons loose, causing electronic noise and signal spikes. In the case of digital circuits, this can cause results which are inaccurate or unintelligible. This is a particularly serious problem in the design of satellites, spacecraft, military aircraft, nuclear power stations, and nuclear weapons. In order to ensure the proper operation of such systems, manufacturers of integrated circuits and sensors intended for the military or aerospace markets employ various methods of radiation hardening. The resulting systems are said to be rad(iation)-hardened, rad-hard, or (within context) hardened.

Robots aren't going to have it any better against a meson accelerator than a manned crew. Sure, you could harden the outer portion of the robot but because of how a meson accelerator works, the radiation is being generated in the robot. Despite their ubiquity, electronics are very sensitive to high voltages. Many an EE student has fried an integrated circuit board by touching it while ungrounded. The arc one feels when walking over carpet then touching a door knob is several times the voltage and current required to fry a CMOS circuit.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've been all over Rho's site. The meason accelerator, while a neat idea, doesn't help me much since I have the primary targets being automated drones and such. Thanks for the info though. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 12 '15 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ @nonafel, any kind of high energy nuclear decay in an area of modern electronics that isn't designed to handle it will cause lots of damage. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 12 '15 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, I really didn't of it that way. Was stuck considering only radiation poisoning and sickness. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 12 '15 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ I am both a nuclear operator and an electrical engineer. The decay of an uncharged meson only might cause a gamma photon similar to ordinary cosmic rays. If anticipating this weapon, the ship could be filled will poly and lead shielding which would require the meson targeting system to find and attack individual components. Said components would be made obscenely redundant, and anything not semiconductor based is not susceptible. Both you and the Traveller RPG seriously overestimate this weapon. $\endgroup$ – Sean Boddy Aug 14 '15 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @SeanBoddy, thank you for the information about the meson decay. However, wrapping everything in the ship in lead would generate unacceptably high weight costs on a ship. Fuel costs would be significantly higher. Even if a meson detector isn't used, it's known presence on the battlefield forces enemy fleets to choose between caution and high penalties in weight or speed/agility with a higher mortality rate. I'd say that's still an effective weapon. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 14 '15 at 12:50
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You could use a wormhole to give them a little sunlight.
Put one end of a wormhole in the sun, and the other end pointed toward the enemy ship.
Even a second of a few million degrees of nuclear fusion should be enough to give them a bad day.

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I'd like to suggest a moderately different angle. While I tend to be an aficionado of high-energy weapons ( especially coherent ones), each of the solutions thus far are common to the attack/aggressor role. In Vinges' "Across Realtime" and related novels the 'Bobble' was used as a passive weapon, containing the target in a bubble of self-sustaining spacetime, cut off from the rest of the universe. Inside such a construct, time is stopped, nothing, not even gravity gets across the boundary, and the contained victims are unaware that anything at all happened, until perhaps thousands of subjective years later, the 'bobble' bursts, and the bewildered victims sort out what happened. Similarly, any weapon that can simply remove the enemy - could be very effective at changing the course of a conflict. As an alternative, I suggest a field-based weapon that selectively directs an energy lowering the binding of the targets' 'weak electromagnetic force', causing the target atoms to drift quickly apart in a cloud of subatomic particles.

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I know that two black holes orbiting each other make a gravity ripple effect. It constantly sprays gravity enough to be a weapon. If you could set up a worm hole that is stationed outside of these black holes, and be able to open one up on your ship, that would work. It shouldn't affect you at all.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not trying to create a true singularity, only the effects of one on a small weaponized scale. I'm assuming I need to fire a physical item containing the necessary parts to create the effect. I like your idea on the gravity ripple effect of two black holes. The core idea for my setting is wormholes, but I was assuming a wormhole can't remain stable long enough to allow such an attack to pass through it. $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 12 '15 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ You would just have to have enough power to keep the worm hole going. Nuclear fission would easily be enough $\endgroup$ – Louis McElveen Aug 12 '15 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'm curious then as to how you might argue that a wormhole is capable of remaining stable with that much energy riding through it? $\endgroup$ – Nonafel Aug 12 '15 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ I cut this down to one question and this answer down to one answer. The original is in the edit history for if the OP creates a separate question for the other part though. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 13 '15 at 11:00

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