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On Earth, half a century in the future, a scientist discovers a way to create a shell around mass to make it functionally not-exist temporarily.

The shell is fairly hard to make, powered by a medium-sized battery pack (about the size of a car battery) and liquid helium but creates a large high-voltage pulse around the shell whenever it is used, disabling nearby electronics unless shielded by a faraday cage.

The shell and mass within it is not measurable or observable in any way until it re-appears. Objects can pass through where the shell was. If the shell re-appears within another mass, they are merged.

The time for the object to re-appear is up to the creator, as a timer is built into the shell. (However, it can not be dependent on an outside source, like a radio signal since the shell can not react/absorb with anything outside the shell while in the "invisible" mode.)

Some information from the comments:

Object retains velocity but won't experience gravity

Time moves at the same rate as it should at its current velocity.

What would be some uses for this kind of technology?

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  • $\begingroup$ what happens if the dissappeared object is moving when it dissappears? does the dissappeared object react to gravity the same way? I assume it wouldn't fall through the earth and reappear in the earth's core, meaning it must still react to electromagnetic forces (everyday push and pull forces are ultimately electromagnetic in nature), so even if you can't observe it, you can still interact with it... but then again, if that's the case, that should mean you could still touch it. we need more details. $\endgroup$
    – Globin347
    Apr 18, 2022 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ What about objects that aren't on a planet - in orbit, or in interplanetary space? Lots of uses in space travel, but need to know the rules about motion given there is no absolute frame of reference. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2022 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. We call questions like this one, open ended list questions. They're considered to non-specific, broad, and opinion based to be a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 19, 2022 at 1:32
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings How can it be opinion based? He set up some rules for his world, this is by definition worldbuilding. Then he ask what happen, this is what 90 percent of questions here do. Those questions can also be answered with a list. It not make the question off-topic for here. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 19, 2022 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ OK, sorry for the confusion then, because most (>80%) of all questions I see on worldbuilding.se appear to follow this sort of brainstorming process. "How do I explain X in a Y enviroment" "How would you do X when Y" $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2022 at 19:54

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I'll think on this, but here's one.

Parts assembly that you just can't do normally, like thing inside a thing. You can do this with 3d printers, but that doesn't provide the same structural values.

Oh, here's another one. You shoot a container with a railgun, and just have it skip the parts where it would normally burn up in the atmosphere. That would make it to orbit, where the satellite inside could just adjust its orbit.

Undocking from a space station without a hatch. This would require the device to be like an envelope that you could wrap around something, then unwrap, and vice versa. I can't imagine that the device would be, for instance, impregnable from the inside. Regardless, this would totally make it an unstoppable weapon.

Unless, of course, it were just slightly to one side in the fourth dimension, or some other handwavium. Then you could have out-of-phase barriers blocking out-of-phase attacks. But you said "nonexistent" so that probably isn't the case.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer, I appreciate it a lot. Especially the construction, I didn't think of that $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 18:06
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Space launches, ballistic missiles and perpetual motion machines

Without magic gravity-negating bubble technology, launching something to space from Earth requires packing it into an aerodynamic shell and ensuring it can survive massive G-forces. Then the payload is hurled into space, expending considerable energy. With a magic bubble, after doing some vector calculations simply place the non-aerodynamic payload on a platform with the desired speed (almost certainly on the equator) and at the correct moment activate the bubble. The object will continue moving with the speed of that point (470 m/s for a point on the equator, even without any additional impetus) unaffected by gravity or atmosphere. At the selected time the object phases back into existence at the appropriate altitude above the atmosphere for the desired orbit and the rockets can start firing to achieve the orbit.

Note: Achieving an orbit is not the same as getting out of the atmosphere. An object needs to achieve a speed of about 3 km/s for a geostationary orbit, but once clear of the atmosphere this can be done with an efficient, sustained low-thrust engine rather than a less efficient high-thrust rocket. It may even be possible to achieve some orbits by turning the bubble on and off repeatedly to take advantage of gravity boosts when desired while effectively ignoring gravity when it is not desired.

Long range space travel can also take advantage of the magic bubble - for example, once a ship is on the desired vector for Mars, activate the bubble so there is no need to worry about micrometeor impacts, radiation or solar flares for the duration.

Bad news - undetectable, unstoppable ballistic missiles. Nuclear ICBMs become vastly more dangerous with a strike practically undetectable until it has happened. A nuclear warhead can be launched at very low speed from inside a building - preventing any satellite detection - then drop its bubble at high altitude to allow gravity to accelerate it towards its target. Once on course it can activate its bubble again to render it unstoppable and undetectable until it drops the bubble for the final time milliseconds before it detonates. The victim of the attack cannot even tell who launched the attack, so they do not know who to retaliate against. Hostile actors without nuclear capability can use the same technique to deploy conventional explosives with varying degrees of sophistication, down to a suicide car bomb that drives at modest speed (to avoid attention) towards its target building, creates its bubble just before reaching the perimeter fence and some seconds later reappears and detonates inside the lobby.

Finally, like any other invention that messes with the base code of the universe, this can be used to create a not just a perpetual motion machine but a never-ending power plant. Lob an object upwards at a modest speed - say 10 m/s - and turn on the bubble, allowing the object to continue upwards unaffected by gravity and air resistance to the desired height. When the bubble turns off, the resultant potential energy will be turned into kinetic energy that can be harvested for power generation.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 He said object when reappear reappear at same position relative to earth. It don't silently keep moving then reappear at another location than it was when disappear. OP said this in a comment posted 6 hours before your answer was posted, you should have read that. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 19, 2022 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Atif and in a subsequent comment the OP specified that objects continue at the same velocity - which was edited into the body of the question where the comment about "tethers" was not, suggesting it was less authoriatative. Even if objects on the surface of the Earth stay put for handwavy reasons, as soon as they are off the surface at all my reading was that intrinsic velocity takes precedence, otherwise there is this bizarrely Earth-centric universe view for the entire phenomena. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ Continue at same velocity after coming out of bubble. Retain velocity while in bubble i.e. not loose it, so can continue with same velocity after coming out of bubble. Do not silently move while in bubble. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 19, 2022 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry about the vagueness. I wanted the mass in the bubble to still move. It would act like any normal object in zero gravity when the shell is activated. Thank you for your answer @KerrAvon2055 $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 18:18
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Murder

The item reappears on the same spot relative to earth. Turn it on filled with air and placed where you know will be an item or person later, like a parking space or the bed. Make sure it is powered until a person or vehicle is in the zone. Merging with a bubble of air where none should be inside a solid item means the body or motor block has a rather unfortunate accident, very likely in a rather explosive fashion.

Terrorism

It's also totally possible to use this to stash away an explosive device to bypass a bomb check this way: it is planted, timer set, and only reappears once the actual event that is to be bombed is happening.

ELOKA

Electronic warfare (ELektrOnische KAmpfführung) includes a lot of disabling the enemy. The device has a quirk of being a somewhat portable EMP. This property alone is useful in military ways.

Disabling Minefields temporarily

Put a tiny version of this under your mines. Have them turn on for two minutes once they get a signal. The result is, that the mines vanish, allow passage, and then reappear right back in position, armed and dangerous. Bonus points for cycling activation signals that, on a bad code, only have the mines hide for 10 seconds, then reappear right under the person trying to pass illegally.

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The foremost use of this would be Science! as it opens up a lot of possibilities.

If the materials fuse with the object bisecting it upon reentry, then you could do things like fuse together 2 steel rods to get a stronger, steel rod. Instead of trying to compress the rods, you simply have them reappear in the same place.

Hydrogen storage: Hydrogen can be put inside buckyballs for storage purposes. Having the hydrogen appear inside the buckyballs, or the balls around the hydrogen could make it far easier to store the hydrogen.

It is possible that there are situations in chemistry wherein (near)perfectly spread atoms/compounds appearing in a solution/reaction would be very helpful. It is also likely that you could create products, that otherwise would require very complex steps, with a simplified process.

And while I can't calculate how much energy it would create, there is likely a way to use this for infinite energy purposes. (imagine an incompressible substance like water appearing in more of the same substance, effectively compressing it, there seems to be a lot of energy potential in that).

Edit: Better link to water compressibility. Old link

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer! $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 18:07
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Fission/Fusion:

Not sure why no one mentioned this before, but displace a mass of nuclear material, then move another mass into the same space. Both masses merge, taking up the same space. Repeat until two nuclei are in the same place. Two nuclear pellets travelling in opposite directions at high speed materializing inside one another - ouch. Otherwise, fissionable materials will get really hot really fast as the nuclei are all jammed absurdly close. The whole thing may undergo fusion by sheer heat.

The positioning rules mean this will be more use in a power plant than as a bomb. But even so, if this allows a fusion power plant to work (especially if it lets normal matter be the source of fusion energy...)

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Invulnerability shield for military purposes. You equip your vehicle with this device. If the point defenses determine that a round is going to get through it's activated for a few seconds. (Small things like a tank might only be a second or two, big stuff like a carrier stays out longer.)

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Waste Disposal Especially Nuclear Waste

You just have to keep powering it. As soon as you switch off the power you suddenly get back all your years' garbage.

Contain Nuclear Explosion

You have to be quick. Contain the fire ball in your bubble. It will stop both the heat wave and radioactivity. Keep powering it till you build a wall around of carbon nanotubes say or mirrors, or just long enough to move people and other valuables away.

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    $\begingroup$ Umm, the device is internally powered and the "time out" set at the time the "shell" is activated, after that it's unconnected to the Universe for the set time. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 19, 2022 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ This dont justify your -1. Here is how. It should be obvious to you but I will spell it out for you. You dont do anything while the shell is activated. You cannot anyway. You can however set timer for a very long time. No interaction with outside is needed once shell is activated. If you cannot or do not want to do that go in increments, set timer for small interval say a month or a day or week, then set timer again and so on. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 19, 2022 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ After the timer is set, the device runs until the shell's internal power is depleted. can't keep recharging it from the outside so there is a finite amount of time before the shell re-appears. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2022 at 18:08
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The uses for such a technology are endless. Everything from low-cost transportation of goods to government espionage could be made possible by such a device. The limitations, of course, would be whatever you made them.

How it would work, my best guess, would be a way to use this high-energy pulse to throw off the object's frequency. It would appear to simply vanish, but would actually just be temporarily out-of-sync with the universe and therefore entirely un-interactable, until at a set time later (based on how out-of-sync it was), it would phase right back into existence as though it had never left. Once 'back', the frequency would be affected by every nearby object and sync back up, remaining in our plane of existence.

If this is how you decide to make it work, then it would also experience no friction in the other plane, making the transportation aspect very viable for non-living materials or objects.

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  • $\begingroup$ The bubbles can't move. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Apr 20, 2022 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish that wasn't specified anywhere in the original post that I can see, but I do see where they stated "Object retains velocity but won't experience gravity", which implies that they can indeed move (retaining velocity). $\endgroup$
    – Blue Dev
    Apr 21, 2022 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ Tried to edit comment but it had been 6 minutes and you only can for 5... anyways, here's a comment by the OP which invalidates your -1. "Sorry about the vagueness. I wanted the mass in the bubble to still move. It would act like any normal object in zero gravity when the shell is activated. Thank you for your answer" $\endgroup$
    – Blue Dev
    Apr 21, 2022 at 19:22
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Hiding Of Nuclear Weapons

Naturally if you can make something Not exist inside a shell, depending on how long you can keep such an item hidden, you could easily hide a nuclear warhead inside a truck or car. With no radiation to speak of, Because it Doesn't exist you could sneak it past any border patrol/security into any location you want.

The implications of this would be that WMD's would be able to be covertly placed and detonated in military / civil centres without anyone knowing who fired the first shot.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 You cannot move the bubble. It dont interact with anything. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 19, 2022 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Atif You could take a hunk of non-critical nuclear material somewhere, then bring a second lump that's in one of the phasing spheres. Phase the sphere out, push the other lump in, and presto, then the sphere de-phases, the nuclear materials are suddenly super dense, reach a critical state, and detonate. Such a nuke, while immobile, would be far easier to build than current nuclear weapon designs. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Apr 20, 2022 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ You cannot bring a phasing sphere to anywhere. A phasing sphere stays where it is. $\endgroup$
    – Atif
    Apr 20, 2022 at 14:19

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