What would happen if you, a muscular human, get hit by a particle weapon under these circumstances:

  • You're wearing power armor
  • You're naked

closed as unclear what you're asking by Aify, L.Dutch, Snow, Mołot, Erik Mar 3 '17 at 12:31

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Jehiel. Because you are new here I will make sugestions on how to improve. First, delete everything prior to the words "what would if you" as they are irrelevant to your actual question. Clarify "14.4 x 114 mm" what? and "AF" is an acronym for what? Also, remove the hard-science tag & replace with science-based. That raises the bar too high for most questions here. Also, look at tags and have a look at what the hard-science means here. It requires equations, citations, and research papers. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 3 '17 at 6:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Which sort of particle weapon, i.e. electron beam or ion beam? What is a "power armor"? Are you aware that particle beams do not propagate well in air and need vacuum, while vacuum and naked body means death well before the particle beam hits the body? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Mar 3 '17 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ There have been people hit by particle beams. Tell us what kind of particles and how fast and maybe I'll even find an example. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 3 '17 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ 1) A beam of what kind particles? 2) At what energy are these particles emitted? 3) At what intensity are these particles emitted? 4) What is the width of the beam? 5) What is the time of exposure? 6) How fast are the target and the beam source moving in relation to each other, and in what directions? 7) What kind of environment are we talking about here, surrounding atmospheric gasses and particles and/or fluids in particular? 8) What the heck is a "power armor" and what is it made of? $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Mar 3 '17 at 12:42

You haven't defined a lot so we will have to make some assumptions about this 'particle weapon'.


  • I'm going to assume you don't just mean a weapon made out of particles (because everything is made out of particles).
  • I'm going to assume you mean some charged particles (electrons, for example) because these are easier to accelerate.
  • I'm going to assume you don't mean a weapon that first provides a path for the particles to travel down like in a taser - though this would provide a much more efficient weapon I suspect you would have said this was what you were after if, indeed, you were.

How effective would this be and what are our problems?

  • First main problem comes when firing your weapon in air, your particles will collide with the molecules in the air and lose energy.
    • So we just need a really high energy, right?
    • In a way, yes, your beam could reach a person but the energy the particles would have by the time they reached anyone the majority of your energy would have dissipated through the air between you.

Following the Heitler model (see figure 1) we can assume (for high energies) that we lose that energy through our charged particles performing Bremsstrahlung and the subsequent photons decaying through pair production. Following equation 2 in the Heitler paper linked above we can see the maximum distance our beam will travel is given by: $$X_{max} = \lambda_{r} ln(\frac{E_{0}}{E_{pp}})$$ Where $\lambda_{r}$ is the radiation length in that medium, $E_{0}$ is the energy you start off with and $E_{pp}$ is the energy per particle in your shower. Air has a $\lambda_{r}$ of $68\times 10 ^{-9}m$...not very far. You can fling some numbers in there if you like but hopefully this is enough to illustrate how inefficient the weapon would be and conclude that (in air) the effect would be essentially null.

So how about a vacuum?

Well for a start we can ignore the naked human as they would die regardless. However we now have the sort of range we need. So now we have the problem of what "power armour" is. With air we could discuss this because we know what that is made from but your power armour could be incredibly thick, could absorb more energy, could be designed to deflect particle beams (possibly with its own magnetic field).

If high energy charged particles do reach your body, however, they can cause damage through ionisation, heating or, indeed, rid you of your tumor. Without knowing the energy of your beam at this point we cannot say for sure. Here is a light video about putting your hand in the LHC.

In essence your weapon wouldn't do a lot in air but using the Heitler model of electron showers hopefully (when you have specified your armour) you can decide how and if your human inside will be effected.

Hopefully this is enough to inform your story else you may want to ask this question on physics SE.


I've always thought particle weapons to be more of the lines of Klingon Disruptors than anything else. Since what you ask is a bit too broad, we'll try to cover a broad set of fast and loose scenarios.

  1. You're naked in space: you're dead.

    • Personal Disruptor: you're shot, now you're suffering from fatal 4rd degree burns in the area... but you're dead anyway because vacuum.

    • Ship Disruptor: you're shot, depending on where you get shot you don't exist, if you do you range from charred remains to a cloud of carbon.

  2. You're naked on Earth: you're alive... but not for very long

    • Personal Disruptor: you're shot, now you're suffering from 6th degree burns in the area, you have a chance of living if you don't get shot at or around or near your head and torso area.

    • Ship Disruptor: you're shot, now depending whether he hits you or not, you're either a cloud of carbon, charred remains of bone, or if it's a close miss... a braised set of short ribs

  3. You're in hermetically sealed power armor in space: you're alive (yay).

    • Personal Disruptor: depending on the armor, the plating is ionized to the point where the localized area disintegrates via vaporization, the area around that is heated to melting point. You survive, but I starts to get hot in there and breach may be imminent because the suit is now compromised.

    • Ship Disruptor: pressure cooked in your own suit...

  4. You're in hermetically sealed power armor on Earth: you're alive... but at what cost?

    • Personal Disruptor: depending on the armor, the plating is ionized to the point where the localized area disintegrates via vaporization, the area around that is heated to melting point. You survive, it starts to get warm and breach may be imminent but you're on earth so you're still alive.

    • Ship Disruptor: pressure cooked in your own suit with a near miss...

Personally I would try not to get shot... or resort to ship combat.

  • $\begingroup$ There is no such thing as 6th degree burns. Very roughly an incomplete description: 1st degree: redness, some inflammation. 2nd degree: blistering, damage to the epidermis (outer skin). 3rd degree: charring and/or destroyed epidermis, damage through the entire skin. 4th: entirely destroyed skin, underlying muscles/bone damaged or destroyed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Mar 3 '17 at 12:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 6th degree burns do exist but that have a close to 100% mortality rate, and may be classified as an extension of 3rd/4th degree burns. Most are determined after autopsy with extreme bone charring. walkermorgan.com/fourth-fifth-sixth-degrees $\endgroup$ – Crashie-J Mar 3 '17 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Look, just because some watery tart threw a sword at you... ehm... wrong... just because some law firm made some stuff up / quoted some made up stuff does not mean the concept in question is generally accepted and used. And looking quickly at the kind of work they do, I am sorry but this sounds like an attempt to hype up the cases they take. "But your honor, look at the extent of my client's injuries. It's a sixth degree burn!! Yeah you have heard of fourth degree burns but this is even worse, oh yes!". Mm hm... sure. With that in mind I deliberately choose to remain doubtful here. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Mar 3 '17 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'll edit the post but I'll also leave this here. doccs.us/burns $\endgroup$ – Crashie-J Mar 3 '17 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ And the first thing that greeted me when I clicked that link was "Call us at...". Oops? :) $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Mar 3 '17 at 12:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.