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So the monomolecular wire weapon is a kinda popular Rule of cool weapon. However, I'm baffled by how they are sometimes used in fictional works. Most of the time, they are used as a whip (feasible) or used as traps for moving targets where they would be viscerated into a bloody mess.

Then there are the exceptions where they were used within minutes in a live combat situation to bind large groups of enemies(that is, until the strings tighten) Without the person using them ever moving.

How is that even possible? The closest and most feasible idea i thought up is to attach these strings to barbed needles and then throw a lot of them in such a way that it immobilises the enemy(won't work well on a open plain I tell you). All that's needed now is a person with godlike spatial awareness and throwing skills.

is it possible to be able to control and manipulate the string? (No magic of course)

How practical is it in combat? (Well... I don't think it would work well against guns...)

Just hand wave the fact that I'm talking feasibility on something that's not really that feasible.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's a dupe b/c the answers to that question includes the way it would be used and what kind of weapon it is. $\endgroup$ – Aify Sep 28 '16 at 18:12
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So, monomolecular whips requires advanced technology to build ( we still can't), so we can safely apply some technology to our answer.

The first thing is that you would need "control points" embedded into the whip. Without them it would have virtually no weight or momentum so would not do anything.

The simplest approach is as Pete suggests, building it into a bolas. Alternatively you could build it into a whip with a weight at the end of the wire to hold it out. You would be able to swing the whip using the weight. By having a winching system inside the handle you could even extend and reduce the length of the whip dynamically as part of the swing. Imagine a simple handle, when you flick your wrist the weight swings out and around scything through anything between the weight and the handle, then retracting back into the handle before it starts to wrap around and become a threat to the user.

An easier to use weapon be like a net gun, but it fires a net made of molecular wires with weights around the edge. Fire the net into an area and anything in between the weights gets cut into neat rectangles until all the weights hit something and stop moving. Not very effective compared to a gun but certainly a horrifying thing to face, the psychological impact would be real.

For something like a sword you would need a way to stiffen the wire. We don't really have any technology that can do that at the moment, in theory a magnetic or electrical field could be used to push the control point away from the pommel but in practice doing that over any distance is not feasible and is too easily interfered with.

Ask skye just suggested a small rocket on the end of the wire would indeed work, however it still would work more like a whip than a sword since moving the handle would not cause the rocket to move. This would be a terrifying weapon while the rocket fuel lasted (which wouldn't be for long) though as you could potentially spool out a much longer cable and cut through anything in between you and the rocket.

Note though that cuts from a molecular whip are very very thin. Cut through a pillar and you would not cause the pillar to collapse, the stone is still there supporting the weight from above. Cut through it in multiple places and then apply some sideways force (or cut through at an angle) though and you might get somewhere.

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    $\begingroup$ Just wondering, could I place rockets on the ends? $\endgroup$ – Skye Sep 28 '16 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Skye Nice idea, see updated answer. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Sep 28 '16 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ It wouldn't be a true sword, but you could have a rigid wire that could be swung like a sword by keeping it in tension via a frame. You would want to make the frame deeper than a violin bow, however, so that you can penetrate more than an inch into the opponent. $\endgroup$ – Devsman Sep 28 '16 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Devsman Yes, I considered that and it's a workable idea. I didn't place it into the answer though for this exact reason, most of the advantages of the monomolecular whip are lost by the fact you need the frame. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Sep 28 '16 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Timmy Yes, essentially. Although it's more likely you would have a powered winder in the handle rather than trying to roll it around the weight which is why I didn't use that example. (Remember the wire will try and cut through whatever it's attached to if you wrap it around!) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Sep 28 '16 at 16:14
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You'd use it as a bolas

Wind it up, let it go and watch your enemies fall like grass before the scythe...

enter image description here

Obviously, you have to wear a hat and take care not to decapitate your angry-looking horse mid-gallop...

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    $\begingroup$ Damn, I saved it just in case nobody could think of anything. :D who knew it would come as the first one. $\endgroup$ – Skye Sep 28 '16 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ I did initially think of a lasso, but it has a limited range and could be just as dangerous to the user as the victim... $\endgroup$ – user10945 Sep 28 '16 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ He was wearing a hat. And that horse looks worried, like one wrong move and he'd be a mafia bed ornament... $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Sep 28 '16 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ You actually can't hold the bola properly since you'd be gripping the mono molecular string - your hand would be disassembled. $\endgroup$ – Aify Sep 28 '16 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously, the strap you're holding onto isn't made of mono string... $\endgroup$ – user10945 Sep 28 '16 at 19:07
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One of these hats. Just replace the strings with longer mono cords.

Throw like a Frisbee.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ What are those weighted strings on the hat for? $\endgroup$ – Michael McGriff Sep 28 '16 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ As used above, it's used by Australian bush workers to keep flies away from their faces/necks. $\endgroup$ – user10945 Sep 28 '16 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ The corks (what's used at the end of the string) are also a good deterrent for drop bears. These hats are more popular with tourists than with us ausies though $\endgroup$ – Thomo Sep 28 '16 at 23:27
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Oh, the string weapon of infinite cool. I like this one and have spent some time musing about it. Of course my thoughts ran along the usual lines, make it a whip, put a weight on it, etc. However, most concepts ran into serious issues regarding physics or were too contrived to be usable and didn't offer much more functionality than your average sci-fi sword.

Edit: Skip the next three paragraphs if you want to get to the point faster.

Instead of whips and such, I went for something different altogether, the blinking blade. The first version was a 2 metre hollow staff where the wire is connected to the hand guard in the middle. Either end would shoot the weight out and the other end would catch it, the whole process happening faster than - you guessed it - the blink of an eye. It had a 180° cutting arc and could also be used similar to a normal staff, provided your second hand didn't grab all the way around it while you "blink". That gave it pretty good defensive capabilities too, since you could cut block a hit and cut the weapon on impact, maybe along with the one wielding it.

In practice, it was quite clunky in tight places, so the next version used an A-shape. I'ts basically the staff folded up, with the top of the A being the axis and the bridge of the A the grip. Kind of like an elbow blade that can lunge out in an almost full circle. Compared to the staff, it was much handier while offering even more range (about 1.30 metres from the hand), but it was also more dangerous to the user, and cutting a blocked weapon would most likely also sever ones own head.

I had other versions, swords that gain reach by firing the weight out of the guard and circling the wire around the tip (discarded, no point in having a blade) or just a stick that rotates it like a fan (discarded, most of the time the weight hits the target first) and other nonsense I wouldn't even dare mention.

Edit: The aforementioned point.

If you want to go for what's most reasonable though, being cool while also realistic, monofilament whips of any kind pose too many problems to be feasible, let alone the best solution. Just as in today's reality, cutting wire is much better suited for traps and netguns than for personal arms.

First off, Monomolecular wires won't last long under the stress applied in combat situations. Even if the wires would face no resistance while severing molecular bonds (don't think so), the forces needed to move them exert stress on it. Solid weapons will always have a higher resistance to wear and tear. Most implementations of monomolecular wires will be discardable one-time uses. That also means that if they are too expensive to produce, they probably won't be used at all, or very rarely and only by excentric rich people.

For example, you could have devices that are placed on the ground and fire a bunch of tiny harpoons with attached wires to instantly create a web-trap, or maybe some kind of doublebarreled gun to place tripwires (well, cutwires actually, har har) at a distance. Or fire a wire at enemies, if the projectiles carrying it have enough momentum to make it cut and not just wrap around the target with the projectiles dealing the actual blow, in which case a normal gun would do the trick just fine...

Most importantly, in a world advanced enough to have monomolecular wires, you can - or must - have all your wire weapons be controlled by embedded computer systems, making them usable without superhuman abilities. This is probably the most important part, since it is beyond human capabilities to handle something so thin that it has nearly no weight and is practically invisible.

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I wonder if monomolecular strings would work like people think they would. It's like a knife edge without the wedge part of the knife behind it. So it would cut, but it might not part the parts. And being monmolecular, the cut parts would still be close enough to chemically bind back together. There'd be damage since that DNA molecule cut in half probably doesn't join back up with the itself properly. But the muscle fiber might work just fine after being cut and hastily rejoined by all the various forces operating on it at that instant.

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Depending on the properties of the monomolecular thread, there are a few other possibilities outside of having a weighted end.

The closest thing to a molecular thread using current technology is a carbon nanotube. The tube can be electrically conductive (or using suitable doping, can act as a semiconductor), so if the thread has similar electrical properties, if could be manipulated using an electrical current. If it a natural superconductor, passing a current through it might cause it to straighten out from a coiled or loose configuration, for example.

As an alternative, an electrically conductive monomolecular thread could also be manipulated by an external electrical or magnetic field. The user may seem to have amazing control over the wire, but it is simply conforming to the external fields.

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