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Canonical Definition:

A Ssiws Army Man-portable Omnitool (more often referred to as a Ssiws Army Knife) can easily dispatch cave bears and moderately large dinosaurs, carve through granite, print circuitboards onto sand. But most people outside of Draconis Prime use it for opening beer bottles.


Context:

The Ssiws are a group of hardcore outdoors enthusiasts on Draconis Prime. Aside from one automated spaceport on a deserted island 40 km off the shore of the main continent, no residential stock, industrial plants or transportation infrastructure exists on the planet surface. The vast robotic industrial plants are located the system's asteroid belt, while most of the permanent habitats, hospitals, cloning vats and nurseries are in geostationary orbit above the planet.

The entire planet is covered in eco-engineered forests and jungles (designed by the famous ecopoetess Deirdre Skye) that support an astonishing amount and density of plant and animal life, ranging from titanium-stinger insects, razorbeak birds, to giant tungsten-carbide-toothed dinosauriade, virtually all of it either poisonous or highly aggressive towards human-like beings.

The Ssiws love it, and spend most of their lives roughing it out in the jungle.


Question:

Given the description of the planet and the Ssiws, and the extant definition already in place, I would love feedback on the existing features, mostly with explaining how they can work in such a small device. If you would sooner replace them with other more useful ones, that is acceptable too, as long as you can justify it. The SAK is easily carried in a pocket and is (over)powered by a miniaturized zero-point drive, capable of providing up to a Megawatt of power.


✤ A series of orbital mirrors provide 10x normal irradiation on daytime side, a level optimized for the amped-up plant life. Deep sea organisms are designed to speed up and magnify the carbon cycle and sea Leviathans spew processed ore dusts into the air. The ores are taken up by the plants and animals on the surface and used in their body plans. Planet surface has been amply modified for maximizing rainfall such that there are no deserts or plains, just vast jungles and forests

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  • $\begingroup$ Where is this and why am I not ther.................. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Aug 14 '15 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds a lot like Idea Generation to me. That said, I think it needs an elecromagnet, for when they drop any of their other tools. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 14 '15 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ The simple fact that you are asking for 3 to 7 features pushes it towards idea generation. If one person suggests 2 great ideas and someone else suggests 3 different good ideas then which post is better? How do you compare them to each other? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 14 '15 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ The Ssiws should ask the Ergman master engineers for advice $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 14 '15 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Rephrased question to clarify my meaning. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Aug 14 '15 at 13:48
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Outside of what has already been mentioned, there is the idea of "hacking matter"(see free eBook), where an array of quantum wells is manipulated so the electrons trapped within are stimulated to different orbital states to create "artificial atoms".

Since most of the observed properties of matter are based on the interactions of the electron shells and valence levels of the electrons in the elements, the fact that there is no nucleus to the artificial atoms simply means that properties like mass and inertia default to the mass of the material housing the quantum wells. Theoretically you can have a "tablet" of material which is "charged" so the electrons mimic steel. Now the tablet has most of the properties of a tablet the same size made out of steel. Looking for other patterns in the USB flash drive attached to the tablet, we find gold. When gold is selected through the input, the electrons move to new configurations and suddenly the tab takes on the electrical, thermal and reflective/optical properties of gold.

This is not quite the same as the ability of the Omni-tool to manipulate matter external to itself, but with a lot of tweaking, this idea could be the basis for a similar or related device. Alternatively, if parts of the internal mechanism can be modified to use artificial matter chips, then varying the property of the chips could result in different outputs being possible for the tool itself.

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  • $\begingroup$ That would work, in a "hard" SF setting. For his campy story, cheddarite might be an homage to Harrison but give it properties of the Wellstone. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 15 '15 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ Campy story!? (Steams off) $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Aug 17 '15 at 11:15
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Just use a megawatt laser projector.

A megawatt laser with computer controlled mirror(s) can be used as a weapon and for pattern sintering. This can also be used for pointing.

The megawatt laser use as a weapon is fairly obvious, cave bears and dinosaurs are vulnerable to megawatt laser burns. Actually not many things can dissipate that much power easily. Especially at that density.

By having mirror(s) able to rapidly change position (like a DLP), the laser can be directed to draw out shapes or patterns. Patterns like the traces on a PCB. When directed at a material like sand (of a conductive material), it can be sintered into a conductive network. You'll need a non-conductive substrate to hold the traces.

It's probably safest to just add a regular bottle opener to the back.

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My first thought would be gallium. Gallium is a metal that is a liquid at just above room temperature. Gallium is also used in various types of semiconductors, including microwaves. infrared devices, and high-speed switches, even items that are already versatile like LEDs and transistors (which can be tweaked to be used as a power source/receptable/converter). It also used as a dopant to create low-melting metal alloys. Another really cool feature of gallium is that it will produce lasers when conducting electricity, and can also form neutrinos, tiny uncharged particles commonly found in the sun.

Now, given that this tool will be used in an area with tropical temperatures, you're going to need a better solution, or at least a work-around. A simple option would be a gallium alloy that is (just) above the temperature of the habitat (and you could have different models of this tool, a cool economical factor), or you could use an insulator like silicone, which is also known for its myriad of uses including lubricants, sealants, adhesives, resin and the vulcanization agent for rubber.

However, gallium is brittle when solid and would either deform or easily break and shatter if used as a blade. Since you want to cut granite with it, you could seed it with diamond. This would create a diamond-gallium crystal, taking advantage of the hardness of diamond but making up for diamond's brittleness. But this removes the flexibility of gallium.

If you want to play with quantum physics, you could use a device that controls the quantum state of gallium forcing it to take a certain state for a certain function. Liquid metals can also be controlled to an extent with direct current pumps, but this wouldn't necessarily allow you to control a solid metal.

Yet another option is gold. However, gold is naturally much rarer and much more expensive to produce and use (on our planet, it can be efficient on another planet, especially with superior technnology - Mystra007), and while gallium is brittle but can be strengthened, gold is always soft, even though its melting point is much higher. I suppose you could make it like playdoh, and the users would have to manually mold the gold, but then there's no way it can be a blade.

It seems your only options for the device you described are in the realm of theoretical science, using a copper-cadmuim alloy or something similar, or a gold-gallium alloy with modified characteristics. Using the latter option seems like your best best in my opinion, and using a quantum device, or using an integrated circuit that can control its shape. I don't know of any real-world examples, but Van in GunxSword uses a shape-changing "memory cloth", so I suppose you could make a shape-changing gold-gallium memory crystal, combining all the bits of science together.

The simplest option yet could be a living weapon. Since your animal species listed all have inorganic metal body parts, you could have a bacteria-based tool, or biological pseudoscience and that gives you all the theoretical flexibility you could possibly need.

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  • $\begingroup$ "However, gold is naturally much rarer and much more expensive to produce and use" > on our planet . Might not be the case on Draconis Prime. The yield of gold ore is very low, on our planet again that's why it's expensive to produce and use. If gold has a yield similar to iron ore on Draconis prime it could be very cheap (even with the same rarity). $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 14 '15 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ Also if you have some time(~27 days) and a lot more energy than we do on earth(couple of orders of magnitude above us) you could just do a radioactive decay synthesis of the gold you need. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 14 '15 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ "neutrinos, tiny charged particles" - Did you mean uncharged? $\endgroup$ – Victor Stafusa Aug 14 '15 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ Ahem Yes, yes I did. $\endgroup$ – Justin Alexander Aug 14 '15 at 22:44

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