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In an alternate Earth setting there are two intelligent species at war with each other, they are the humans and the elves. Human technology is an exact mirror image of our current technology, and the mortal elves only rely on the power of nature.

According to the latest reliable Intelligence reports the elves have secretly bred a particular flying insect species that is capable of burrowing between dimensions in $3.14159 t_P$ (Planck times, equal to $16.93681 \times 10^{-44}s$). The insects leave trails of tiny gravitational anomalies which then evaporate and generate intense pulses of gamma radiation. Each insects can store up to 3.14159 mg of antimatter collected from another universe, using a special organ producing a powerful targeted magnetic field. There are one trillion ($10^{12}$) of these insects which are able to burrow in and out of our universe.

How can the human race outgun the elves?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know which side is superior but both parties are awesome! referring to the elf and it's pet... $\endgroup$ – user6760 Oct 31 '16 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Is it important that the insects are doing everything through pi? $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Oct 31 '16 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ Can they burrow out of our universe in one location and return in another? I.e. can they travel in the other dimension and return behind our front line, or must the travel in our dimension. Note that the 3 mg of antimatter is equivalent to about 60 tons of TNT, equivalent to a tactical nuke. One insect could take out an entire base. $\endgroup$ – James K Oct 31 '16 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ We're just going to ignore the impossibility of decimal planck time? $\endgroup$ – UIDAlexD Oct 31 '16 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ I always feel uncomfortable when I see handwavium mixed with actual scientific terms... But anyway, if those beasties create magnetic fields, I'd just put neodymium magnets and iron anywhere and then watch them splash over it like fly over flytrap. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '16 at 14:01

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3.14159 mg of antimatter plus the same amount of matter means 5.64704056 × 1011 joules per insect. I assume trillion on the short scale, 1012. This gives us 5.64704056 × 1023 joules from a swarm.

To put it in perspective, it's 564 704 056 petajoules. Tsar Bomba has a blast yeld of 210PJ. Your swarm is as poerful as 2 689 067 Tsar Bombs!

To compare with other devices:

And that's what you get just by destroying these insects and making their containment chambers unstable!

It's enough power to end life on Earth[Citation needed], and if these insects can slide into this universe and explode immediately, there is no way to stop them. Even immobilising them might make antimatter containment chambers unstable and cause explosions.

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    $\begingroup$ in other words: humanity is doomed, as is earth. $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 31 '16 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Trish Don't forget the elves, they're gone too. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 31 '16 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, Molot, for putting numbers that confirm my expectation that these insects would be world annihilating. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 31 '16 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ If you want a citation, the energy is roughly 1.5x the amount from the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs From Physics, by John Rennie - although I can't seem to trace that number back through Wikipedia to it's original source $\endgroup$ – user2813274 Oct 31 '16 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ I had already upvoted your answer. Numbers are the best way of making sense of things. I like numbers too. They clear away the cobwebs of our thinking. Plugging numbers into an answer recently on WB made me rethink my ideas about one idea of interstellar travel. The numbers did it! Your answer was fun too. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 1 '16 at 6:04
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The elves' insect weapon force is an absolute Armageddon weapon. The humans don't need to do anything. If the elves unleash their doomsday diptera (an insect type chosen for their alliteration), both humans and elves will die in cataclysm of radiation. The Armageddon insects will end all life on this alternate Earth. Call their bluff!

If that doesn't deter the elves and their inter-universe insects, then humans can build an aerial of automated drones, controlled by an on-board AI, armed with insecticide aerosol spray guns and flyswatters held in robot arms.

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    $\begingroup$ and die as the world-jumping insects detonate into hard radiation and vaporised topsoil when hit. It's a "we die together, one way or another." $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 31 '16 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish. Deterrence was my first and preferred option. It was obvious these insects will destroy the alternate planet. I notice everybody assumes the insects' antimatter containment chambers unstable if insecticide kills them. I think experimental confirmation is needed. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 31 '16 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ they contain a power source that powers an EM field to keep the antimatter in check. Killing the insect in any way that removes the power source, it's ability to refuel or the means to uphold the EM field will have the antimatter annihilate with matter in the well known, very intense light and vaporisation/irradiation of the area. $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 31 '16 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish The OP specified a magnetic field not an EM field. It might not need a power source. Provided the magnetic fiield of the antimatter containment chamber is stable, then no problem. If it did need a power source, this might keep operating when the insects are dead. Certainly maintaining a power source will be comprised once the insects are dead. If so, the mass annihilation fun will begin. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 1 '16 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ A B-Field (magnetic) alone can't contain charged particles (like positrons) at all because it would move them to just one side, and then it makes boom. You need to combine a static B and a changing E field to force the particles onto circular paths, so they stay in a specified region. $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 1 '16 at 10:12
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You state that in this scenario "Human technology is an exact mirror image of our current technology." Are we talking about current real-life technology, or Fantastic Four/90s Superhero movie technology?

90s Superhero movie technology

Chances of us surviving are pretty good. Just talk about micro-fusion quantum-nuclear bio-cells until you have a device which jams the interdimensional hyper-X TARDIS field the insects use to slingshot around the xen-dimension.

Current real-life technology

To call the situation hopeless would be incomprehensibly beyond understatement. We're talking about a weapon which completely re-writes physics. We know of no possible mechanism for tunneling between dimensions, much less a possible counter to it. These bugs can appear anywhere, without warning, at reality-breaking intervals of non-integer-planck-time and we are completely powerless to stop them. Additionally, any attempt to destroy the bugs themselves will result in nuclear-scale detonations.

Creating some kind of pheromone counter which turns the insects against their masters or defuses them seems like a good idea, but from what you describe the elves are absolute masters of bio-engineering. There will be failsafes against that.

Our only chance for anything even approaching survival is to hope that the elves are fans of slave labor.

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Humanity can't properly fight against this doomsday device for several reasons:

  • the weapon in question can defend itself by switching universes in a timeframe that is faster than modern day computers can determine it is even there
    • This would result in a movement pattern of just "existing" for split seconds, phasing out, staying phased out for the larger part of a second, then they phase in again, move and return to phasing out.
  • Each mosquito is a nuclear device that irradiates the area just by passing. Even the USA did stop their nuclear ramjet as "too provocative".
  • The antimatter in each mosquito is enough to annihilate a smaller city (1/111th of little boy each), mostly in the shape of light and thermal energy. This will just evaporate a large chunk of topsoil, making several of these insects able to dig out bunkers by detonating one after another in the crater left by the one before.
  • Due to storing the antimatter in the insects' body with EM fields, the destruction of the body or shutting down of them will result in the setting free the stored antimatter, making destroying the insects not an option at all.

The only option to prevent global destruction is either preventing the very launch of the weapon or surrendering. Against such a device resistance is futile.

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  • $\begingroup$ "The antimatter in each mosquito is enough to annihilate a large city," - That's inaccurate. See numbers in my answer. It would take 111 of these bugs to get explosion with energy of one Little Boy. Of course that's a very rough estimate because explosion mechanism is different, but anyway. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 31 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot oh right, mixup in the exponents... corrected and added the number. $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 31 '16 at 14:47
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Working with round numbers, a gram of antimatter has $10^{14}$ joules of energy. Each insect has $10^{-3}$ grams of antimatter. $10^{9}$ joules of energy is equivalent to one ton of TNT. Adding exponents, each insect has an energy equivalent of $10^2=100$ tons of TNT.

And worse yet, you have $10^{12}$ bugs. Adding exponents, the swarm has on the order of $10^{23}$ joules of energy, or the equivalent of $10^{14}$ tons of TNT. That approximately matches the energy of the Chicxulub impactor that killed off the dinosaurs.

This much energy must not be allowed to be released, or everyone dies.

It's quite possible that the Elves have done something idiotic and have released an uncontrollable death sentence on the planet. Consider the following bad days:

  1. Elven creator of insects feels an annoying itch on the back of his neck. Scratches the itch, kills an insect. Resulting detonation initiates a chain reaction, and the whole swarm goes up in plasma.
  2. The insects find they can get lysine from soybeans and begin to reproduce. Being able to sterilize an area with gamma rays, they outcompete native ants. Now there are $10^3$ Chicxulub impactors.
  3. There's a stalemate until early one September morning. The Elven king wakes up and shivers, worrying about the impact of the frost on his rose plants. Before the roses wilt, though, a few insects succumb to the frost. The Elven king no longer has to worry about the cold.

These scenarios lead me to believe a critical thing about these insects: they don't retrieve antimatter unless caused to do so by an Elf. If they did it at will, or near death, the elves could not control the risk behind their borders, and the world would end. This gives the menace some tactical value, otherwise the bugs are just a danger rather than a weapon for the Elves.

However, the bugs are insects, not tacticians. They won't take complex instructions, like flight paths, hunting in cooperation with other insects, or targets to kill. Perhaps they can be aggressive towards humans, but that's pushing it. What would happen?


At first, the human armies would be rocked by unknown bombs near their cities. Surveillance cameras wouldn't see anything. They'd upgrade their cameras, and install NVRs in subterranean safes to capture footage from aboveground, watching for elven missiles, human traitors, bomb trucks, anything that could cause that kind of carnage. Eventually, they'd get lucky with a camera that coincided exactly with the calculated epicenter of the bomb, and notice a private waving his hands around swatting at a bug (probably not visible on the camera). He'd smile when it landed, and at the precise moment when his palm came down to swat it, the feed cuts. It's too precise to be a coincidence.

Higher-resolution cameras being watching for insects. Eventually, they figure out the species, and capture some before they're loaded by the Elves. They deploy laser insect turrets, with some success, killing off insects near hardened military targets, until one blasts an antimatter bug and the installation is destroyed. Fortunately, they have sensors on the laser turret, which note the radiation and EM fields coming from the insect. On further investigation, they find the specialized antimatter containment organs.

At this point, they have a couple options:

  1. Develop bug life support drone ships. Perhaps the bugs can't consciously release the antimatter, and only have energy for a few minutes' flight away from the sender. If a quadcopter can snatch the bug and give it a cardiopulmonary bypass, feeding tube, and eventually extract the bug to a lab where they can artificially power the antimatter containment or fire it into space, they could survive a little while, until the cost of all that containment and all those drones bankrupted them.
  2. Develop biological warfare to target the bugs. A virus or pesticide to kill off the population before they could be sent to pick up the antimatter, destroying their habitat or mating grounds, or otherwise destroying the species could rapidly reduce the $10^{12}$ number to something manageable, if not 0.
  3. Figure out the wormhole mechanism used by the bugs, and flee the planet. Alternate universes exist and are reachable by wormhole! 1 in 2 is probably not antimatter. Size limits are one thing, but biology is stupid. If a bug can transit the wormhole with its own energy, a nuclear power plant should be able to send a small spaceship through.
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Humans deploy a neurotoxin insecticide. Before killing the insects, as the neurotoxin wreaks havoc on their primitive nervous systems it drives them to burrow back to where they collected the antimatter before dying, so the destabilization of their containment and the reaction (if any) does not occur on the humans' planet. The insects have effectively been neutralized without armageddon.

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  • $\begingroup$ Neurotoxin like this would be really hard to develop. We can induce aggression, fear, light anxiety etc, but this behavior is totally synthetic. Can't test such toxin on natural bugs, and each mistake means something got blown up. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 31 '16 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot A lot of something got blown up. $\endgroup$ – Williham Totland Nov 1 '16 at 8:41
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Depending on the mechanics of how the otherworld and our universe interact, we might have some luck with using standing magnetic fields. If we hit the bugs with a magnetic field as they came through, it might be enough to disrupt their abdominal antimatter store while most of the insect is still on the other side. This could release the antimatter to contact the insect's physical body, causing the annihilation reaction to take place in the otherworld, rather than in our world. As a bonus, taking out one bug thus could cause a chain reaction, as other insects are killed by the explosion of the first, releasing their antimatter payloads and causing more explosions, etc etc, rippling on through the swarm.

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Assuming the insects collect their payload in an anti-matter-universe, they need a secondary E/M-field to keep said anti-mater from interacting with their body while in the anti-matter-universe.

A chemical/biological weapon targetting their E/M-generator might cause those insects to detonate in the anti-mater-universe. Developing this weapon might turn out to be a bit difficult, not like there are many second chances.

Otherwise the slavelabour option mentioned by UIDAlexD sounds promising

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I think the key hear is in how the elves are deploying the weapon.

If its just a matter of the elves opening a jar and releasing the swarm, after which the insects, which I presume have been trained for this very operation, slide over to Earth space and explode themselves, then I would go for destroying the bugs before they go.

If these insects are telepathically directed, then I would either a) try to convince who ever is controlling them that this weapon will toast them too, or b) neutralize their psychic influence.

Also, here's a question for the those hear that are more knowledgable in physics: is their anyway to intensify the bugs containment fields, such that the field is so strong that it contains the explosive energy, much like a bottle of compressed gas?

Also, if these insects are able to slide between dimensions, is there anyway for humans to "wall off" a strategically important site and prevent such intrusion? If I understand correctly, the elves are in a different dimension. If that is the case, then the "latest intellegence reports" would have had to be generated based off of a) some earth technolgy capable of peering into the Elven dimension, 2) some earth spy actually physically enter the Elven dimension, or 3) an intellegence agency interrogated one of the Elven officers that would know such information, or 4) a defecting elf gave or sold the info to Earth intel

If 1) is the case, then technology that can look into other dimensions may be able to block incoming traffic or attack remotely. If 2), then there is obvious earth technology that is capable of opening a door, and thus may be able to close one as well. If 3) is true, then that means individual elves can be beaten, and if the leaders of this weapons launch can be eliminated, it might buy Earth more time or, if security has been that well compromised, even a way to detonate the bugs on the elven dimension. If 4) is true, that means Elves can be bought or moral is not 100% secure. This means that, given the right persuasion, the elves can turn on their military leadership and either destroy the weapon or themselves in the process.

Overall though, the humans may be screwed, but there is nothing left to do but try and fight. Giving up only ensures death, or enslavement, what ever the elven object is.

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  • $\begingroup$ The elves together with humans share the same dimension, only the bugs can access the other dimension by creating an unstable micro wormhole which soon explodes into gamma radiation. If the antimatter leaks gamma ray will sterile everything in its proximity, the elves though of human as a disease that bring chaos to the universe therefore must be utterly obliterated from existence... $\endgroup$ – user6760 Oct 31 '16 at 16:00
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Humans are already developing lasers with automatic target analysis to shoot down insects, so that might be a good way to defend against lone insects trying to do rogue manouvers. As pointed out in the comments the fade into the other existence can be used to avoid lockon, so my next idea would be fast winds, won't kill them, but buys time. To deal with swarms fire or insecticides would be your best bet, although large nets would also work, as they will kill each other if they try to bomb free when tightly compressed.

To protect from the huge amount of radiation humans would definitely not fight in person and live in underground bunkers. Living underground would have the benefit, that there aren't really that many natural things that can tear through hard rock and so this would be a good protection as well. But if one insect gets in it will be a great mass grave.

In my answer I'm assuming that the insects don't have 3,4 miligrams of antimatter each, because it is a swarm that would be strong enough to basically blow a hole through several mountains and that explosion strength is pure death.

Assuming that they really have that explosion strength the only way for humans to win is by leaving earth and shooting it from afar, but our technology is not quite ready for that so I think we would have enough problems with just living outside of the atmosphere. (The Arctic might be ok as well, but I'm not certain whether we will be able to build a colony that supports many people, but it will support more than we can send to space).

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    $\begingroup$ the insects might not get into the bunker right away but think about each insect as a tactical weapon that vaporizes a large area. As a result, once a bunker is found, a single insect goes in and it lands on the laser because it can phase out of universe fast enough to evade lock-on. The result is, that the insect detonates, obliterating the laser and a nasty chunk of topsoil. Then the next insect goes in and vaporizes the upper layers of soil, rinse and repeat till the bunker is exposed and killed. $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 31 '16 at 10:13
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I think all the current answer miss a key aspect. Mutual Assured Destruction.

Humanity (not to mention wartime humanity) has enough nuclear weapons to destroy a species, itself or most of the planet.

The over 20,000 nuclear weapons humans got are already more than enough to destroy the elves. Just because (as other answers pointed) the elves' weapon is more powerful doesn't mean humans don't have a weapon "powerful enough".

Given both species can destroy each other (assuming no magic elf nuclear weapon protection) - neither would use their doomsday weapons and I assume they would mostly fight small-ish proxy wars of influence between fringe settlements.

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