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The fantasy setting has (the typical) medieval-level ordinary technology with magic use being a rare craft (although few are completely insensitive to magic — theoretically able to use it — most have limited aptitude and far fewer have any training) of significant but not enormous power (no equivalent of nuclear weapons but teleporting "gates" are not rare and magic fertilization exists).

Adamant is a stone-like material that is literally unbreakable (under normal conditions). Its native form is a sphere, typically about a millimeter in diameter. Under very high temperatures (achieved somewhat readily by skilled magicians) it becomes malleable and can be merged into larger units merely by contact. Under extremely high temperatures (achievable only by one group of magicians according to aptitude and skill) a larger unit can be separated by high tension across an already thinned (under very high temperature) section, but this technique is rarely used (with native pieces being small).

Adamant is rarer than gold (at least on the continent on which the story is primarily set) and processing is relatively labor-intensive and skill-constrained, so common items would not be made from adamant. Being extremely difficult to adulterate (it is effectively immiscible and making a sphere with an interior of base material would be expensive) and easy to test (besides being unbreakable, adamant has an extraordinarily smooth surface and obsidian-like color and luster). This implies that it could be used as money (store of value, medium of exchange), though small fixed weight units would be impractical (and large chunks are less valuable by weight because separation is so difficult). Its rarity and luster would also admit use as a native (spherical) gemstone or artificially flattened form (both increasing the investment/value and allowing a larger visible surface). Adamant's density will probably be around that of quartz; certainly much less dense than iron and much more dense than water.

However, I want adamant to be put to other uses, despite its rarity. It is used for weapons, both because of its durability (forming a very sharp edge or point is difficult — adamant has something like extreme surface tension and adamant 'foil' is practically impossible to make — but once cooled adamant is solid and an edge would retain sharpness) and interaction with magic — is it almost entirely "magically neutral" but increases magical affinity of nearby and touching materials (especially for types of magic harmonious with adamant). Its influence on magical affinity also makes it useful in enchanted items more generally, but the enhancing effect is mainly worthwhile at the higher end of enchanting effort where a more-or-less fixed proportion augmentation has greater value.

Outside of money, decoration, (rare) weapons and armor-parts, and magical items, what would adamant be used for?

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    $\begingroup$ for future reference, please be aware that this is the type of brainstorming problem that is discouraged on this site (see help center). Per Stack Exchange's rules, questions are expected to be specific with the reasonable possibility of a best answer, meaning they can't be open-ended, hypothetical, or result in all answers having equal value (see help center). Our exception to this is a finite list of things, but that requires limitations, conditions, and restrictions to narrow the scope of the query. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 10, 2023 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ A very long but very thin piece of adamant that doesn't break would be an extremely powerful lever. If this can be sufficiently thin to fit into small cracks it will be absurdly useful. As long as it doesn't break/deform this gives you a practically infinite force-multiplier. Use it as a siege weapon even. $\endgroup$
    – blues
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ The excessive parentheses make this difficult to read. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ If your adamant has good alloying properties, you can make good use of it if you mix it with any metals. An iron-adamant sword would be less effective than a pure adamant sword, but it's still better than a regular iron sword. And you can regulate the prices with the percentage of adamant inside. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2023 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ Seconding @fredsbend's comment. I used to be prone to making heavy use of parentheses. As a tip, reread what you've written and try to eliminate most of them (say at most one or two sets per paragraph). It's often possible to rephrase, or perhaps the bit inside parentheses can simply be omitted. $\endgroup$
    – Oliphaunt
    Jul 12, 2023 at 20:18

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Natural adamant comes in tiny, smooth spheres that do not lose their spherocity under wear and tear. Therefore, your unworked adamant is an excellent candidate for ball bearings.

There are many useful applications for ball bearings, but none is more radical than the skateboard. Only the noble class can afford skateboards (since adamant is so rare). They invest heavily in crude asphalt walkways so that they can shred the pavement throughout the town. Emulating the nobles, the polite gestures of the entire populace soon take the form of skating moves. Pretending to do an ollie is akin to a bow. Gentlemen should always feign a kickflip when greeting a lady, who is to respond with a suitable compliment, such as "nice" or "most tubular, m'lord".

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    $\begingroup$ What a legend. Utterly rad $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2023 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ Gnarly, I'm sure $\endgroup$
    – skeep
    Jul 11, 2023 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think such properties would be desirable in bearing balls. You lose all the flex and springyness that would be provided by steel balls, so every load spike caused by manufacturing tolerances, vibration and the like will have to be absorbed ONLY by the bearing rings (which to my understanding can't be made of adamant). $\endgroup$
    – MaxD
    Jul 11, 2023 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @MaxD The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excaliboard from the bosom of the water. Excaliboard is legendary for its pure adamant trucks. He who rides Excaliboard is the rightful king of cool $\endgroup$
    – skeep
    Jul 11, 2023 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ They might pay peasants to lift up one end of a table so they can grind down it. This eventually gives rise to the word "totally tabular" entering the lexicon for something that's really cool. $\endgroup$
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 11, 2023 at 20:28
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Construction

manufacture very thin rods of adamantium to support almost any construction you could think of.

Long bridge without supports? No Problem. Two long thin rods of adamantium layed across the gap and then you can build anything on top. even a small building in the middle of the bridge would be no problem.

A big tower? No Problem! Just stick four long rods of adamantium deep in a solid foundation and it will never topple over.

Note: these rods would be manufactured in some fixed and easy to transport sizes (for example 50cm, 1m, 2m, 5m) and then connected on-site by some construction mages.

Tools

Wrenches gain more "power" with more leverage. Real world wrenches are mostly limited by real life materials not being able to absorb the tensions you reach with a long lever. A wrench with an adamatium rod as its core wont break or bend even if it is 10 meters long and at that point the strength you can deliver through leverage gets ridiculus.

Siege weapons

Also on the line of leverage lay siege weapons. Imagine what size of trebuchet would be constructable using a adamantium base construction and throwing arm.

Always just in small amounts

Due to its rarity and price most applications wouldn't be full-adamatium-anythings (weapons, tools, constructions,...) but mostly adamatium-plated-xxx, adamatium-cored-xxx and so on.

Basically any weakpoint in any system would be a candidate to be replaced by an adamatium version of it.

And for pure adamantium stuff: Machinery

In machinery with gears and axles you like to have two properties. Structural strength and low friction, both are sported by your adamantium making insane mechanical devices possible. Normally high rate transmissions suffer from the immense stress on axels and gears and high friction to overcome. With adamantium axels, gears and a drill head you could make an insane drill that is able to make away with anything.

pure adamantium stuff part 2: reference items (Credits to DKNguyen)

due to its nature of not being able to be bend, formed or erroded at normal temperature levels, adamantium can be perfectly used for reference items like gauge blocks and gauging rods.

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    $\begingroup$ The question of whether you can actually manufacture adamantine rod like that is the big one. If it likes to snap into a spherical configuration and can only really be shaped with excessive forces and squeezing to prevent this, then extruding a rod might be really difficult. Once done though, brilliant plan. An unbreakable adamantine rod would be an incredible construction material. $\endgroup$
    – Ruadhan
    Jul 11, 2023 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ "Two long thin rods of adamantium ... and you can build anything on top". Probably not, depending on what the other side looks like. What if they roll? What if they subside? I'm also not sure whether being very tough prohibits bending (which would make construction difficult too). $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2023 at 10:20
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    $\begingroup$ @preferred_anon okay if you want to prevent rolling you can connect them by two additional small rods. And ofcourse you need a decent fundation on both sides. The "unbendable" I take from the fact that it only becomes mallable at high temperatures using magic. The OP has to decide for themselfes if thats the case. $\endgroup$
    – datacube
    Jul 12, 2023 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ Malleability is generally about plastic deformation, bending is about elastic deformation. $\endgroup$
    – addaon
    Jul 13, 2023 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ For tools, it would probably be used more for master references like gage blocks, or probe heads than something like a wrench. Or cutting tips and heads on tools. Metrological tools are not. Something like a giant wrench would use far too much of the rare material for the utilization you would get from it. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Jul 13, 2023 at 18:42
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One suggestion I would make would be using it in tooling. An adamantine anvil or hammer wouldn't wear and should be relatively easy to make, tongs or other tools could be used in higher heat environments without risk of being annealed. While being very difficult to make to the required level of precision, it could lend itself well to the beginnings of machining.

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    $\begingroup$ Normal anvils are large and don't wear quickly. This adamant stuff is really expensive. Making a stone or iron anvil is way way cheaper, and it will last long enough. If adamant is used for tools, it will be small ones, like drill bits. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2023 at 21:18
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Security, secrets, and sequestration

One requires wealth to step up to the levers of power, but to shape the world around you requires those immaterial possessions that can control populations and move armies. Secrets, artifacts, documents, and the occasional political prisoner must all be kept safe, and for those in power, only the most secure locks, safes, and chests will do the job.

Adamant codexes are uncrackable by the world's master thieves and are light enough to carry on horseback, yet as secure as a bank vault. These slim cases ensure that special orders and edicts can be delivered safely, their provenance and chain of trust guaranteed intact; a thousand times better than a wax seal.

Adamant deadbolts and hinges are featured on massive stone doors used by paranoid noblemen. These doors are so perfectly balanced they open with the push of a finger, yet when the latch is thrown, thirty stout men taking turns swinging sledgehammers are required to spend days cracking the stone panels by force. These doors are used to buy time for soft targets to escape through secret corridors, but they function just as well for preventing certain problematic rivals from ever seeing daylight again.

In regards to imprisonment, I have a modicum of evidence to suggest that an expensive, difficult-to-use material might be used to detain prisoners: A long time ago, I was a part of the Civcraft Minecraft community. One feature of this political-intrigue-focused custom server was the ability to imprison players in chests. Notorious criminals or embattled leaders would be locked in chests packed deep within layers of modded, enchanted obsidian that took hours to dig through. Setting up these expensive prisons would cost an exorbitant amount of diamonds, but players could dig all night to save their comrades.

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Maybe it’s too obvious to have been mentioned but the primary use of adamantium is going to be twofold.

  1. Firstly, being valuable, as jewellery - portable wealth.
  2. Secondly, as picks and drills for adamantium mining - and for tools for adamantium working.

In general, it’s sounds like a form of metallic diamond.

However - it cannot break. Wow. So make an adamantium wire puller (out of adamantium) and you get adamantium wire. Turn that wire into thinner wire. Repeat until it’s is mono-molecular.

A few hundred km of the stuff could be used to create a skyhook - and you have cheap space transportation.

Unbreakable monomolecular wire is a holy grail for so many things. How about just using it to slice rocks out of quarries, like a cheese wire? An invisible defence against invaders, slicing anything that walks or wanders into it.

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Ammunition.

I know you said outside of weapons, but this is more a component of a weapon rather than a weapon itself. We have magic in this environment, I see no reason we couldnt have some kind of early propellent for use in early firearms like gunpowder, which was used in china in the 10th century.

These unbreakable, low weight materials could be used as projectiles that i can imagine would be very good at piercing armor. Load a bunch of these projectiles into a blunderbuss and you have a weapon fit for a king, one that can kill anyone up close, even through plate armor.

We have magic too, if telekinesis or any magic that can move stuff exists, we can ditch the gun entirely. Why not just accelerate at incredible speeds through peoples heads? You would only need one pellet of this material as long as you can keep track of it.

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    $\begingroup$ Very very expensive ammunition! I hope your magic relocator works :) $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2023 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ As I mention in another answer, adamant is a perfect energy storage device. It is much more interesting as a /propellant/ for an early firearm than it is as a projectile. $\endgroup$
    – addaon
    Jul 13, 2023 at 17:14
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Free and easy Orbital Launch (and projectile weapons)

A sphere of adamant, as described, must be perfectly elastic. Otherwise, hitting it sufficiently hard would heat it; and heating it makes it malleable, and therefore breakable; and it is described as "unbreakable" under normal conditions; and if being hit isn't a normal condition for evaluating breakability, what is?

This means that a sphere of adamant is a perfect energy storage device. This energy storage can be exploited in many different ways, and is probably a much more interesting property of adamant than any merely mechanical properties; there are plenty of sufficiently-strong and sufficiently-tough materials out there, but no society has ever satisfied its need for energy storage.

Perhaps the most trivial way to abuse this property is in a stacked ball drop. The traditional stacked ball drop demonstration takes the accumulated potential energy of a stack of spheres (and, conveniently we already have spheres) and transfers all of that energy to the top most (traditionally smallest) sphere, giving it quite significant kinetic energy. In practice, the velocities achievable are limited by the elasticity of the balls and the surface off which the bottom ball is bouncing; but we've just completely lifted one of those limitations, and an investment in making a single adamant plate can significantly lift the other (or, depending on the speed of sound in adamant, lift it completely if the bottom ball bounce completes before the sound wave can propagate through the plate).

Pointed upwards, a relatively small stack of balls will put a new crater on the moon. With a slight misalignment of the top ball(s), hypersonic projectiles are trivial. Orbit can't be achieved without an additional impulse at or near apogee, but you can get darn close.

Other ways to store and extract infinite energy from adamant is left as an exercise for the reader.

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The mother of all trebuchets

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up, step right up! Behold the wondrous and fantastical adamant trebuchet, a marvel beyond your wildest imagination! Prepare to be amazed!

In this grand spectacle, we present to you the one-of-a-kind trebuchet constructed with the legendary adamant, a metal so unbreakable it'll leave your jaws dropped and your eyes agape. This trebuchet, my friends, is in a league of its own.

Witness its awe-inspiring strength! With adamant's unmatched resilience, this trebuchet can handle payloads that'll make your ordinary contraptions quiver with envy. Tensile forces? Bah! This baby laughs in the face of pressure. Its spindly frame, arm, and chain sling are forged from adamant, ensuring that destruction shall remain a stranger to its magnificent structure.

But that's not all, folks! This trebuchet defies the laws of physics with its unyielding nature. Launch after launch, it withstands the most mind-boggling forces. Without any deformations. And what does that mean for you, my friends? It means you can fling projectiles of titanic weight over huge distances with pinpoint precision.

But hold onto your hats, for there's more to this spectacle! The fact that the rods can be so thin and lightweight means that this baby can move! Hitch it up to a couple of horses and you’ve got yourself a rapidly deployable heavy artillery. Just make sure you anchor it before firing or it may take you (and your horses) on a ride.

So gather 'round, good people, and witness this mesmerizing display of power and precision. The adamant trebuchet will leave you spellbound, as it catapults objects towards (and over) the horizon with unfathomable accuracy. Step right up, step right up, and embrace the extraordinary, for this is a sight you'll remember for a lifetime!

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Sorry for the lack of imagination, but to melt adamant rather than magic I would see fit a furnace in a cave in a volcano with flowing lava. LOTR style. Since it is not too dense it would be easy to work if you can approach the hot lava, dump it into the lava and wait for the molten adamant to float on it.

What could you do with it? In an unstable realm, where conspiracies happen often, a sceptre that can double down as a mace in dangerous situations would be quite useful.

A safe or a hollow statue to safeguard something special could be another use.

A city on the side of a mountain. A square which has on a side a big rock face on which all the laws are carved. A dedicated adamant chisel would allow to write or erase quickly the laws as they are promulgated.

The great chain in front of Costantinople. A long cast iron chain deployed across the strait in front of the city has been for a while a powerful defence that blocked many enemy ships. But lowering and raising it was a tough job. That's when adamant could come in handy. Apart from blocking ships there can be many uses for a chain.

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  • $\begingroup$ A blast furnace could be an alternative to lava. They've been in use for hundreds to thousands of years, though I'm not sure how hot early ones could get. Modern ones are much hotter than lava. $\endgroup$
    – nasch
    Jul 13, 2023 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @nasch Yeah, but in the heart of the volcano temperatures can be way higher than the ones you get when lava erupts. And in a fantasy story a magician working in front of a hot lava flow looks better than the coal dirty face of a blacksmith. $\endgroup$
    – FluidCode
    Jul 13, 2023 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @FluidCode the the lava is that hot you are not getting close enough to use it for anything, convection is a thing, $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 13, 2023 at 22:13
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If it is unbreakable the primary use is scientific and industrial.

There are thousands of industrial and scientific endeavors that are limited by the tool's ability to stay sharp or resist bending. NIST and similar agencies would likely own most of the worlds stockpile, a material that does not change mass over time would be a godsend to them. nanotechnology, molecular engineering, high precision surgery, the space industry, the possible uses boggles the mind. It is simply too valuable to use for anything else.

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