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Maybe this question doesn't go too far, but when reading about liquid metal type materials like those that can harden with electricity or magnetism, I was kind of thinking of something there. For those who have read through stuff about developments in smart materials, is there a known material that could be made to harden and flatten like some kind of shield or harden and extend to a sharp point?

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  • $\begingroup$ No. Maybe just maybe I'll be able to gather enough references for an answer, but proving existence is easier than proving non existence. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Mar 15 '17 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if you could build it into a "body suit", but the right mix of corn-starch and water makes a substance that's hard when you hit it quickly (someone punches you), but soft when you stir it (you slowly walk away, unbruised). $\endgroup$ – FumbleFingers Mar 15 '17 at 18:52
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That is not a great idea. If your enemy has access to the same technology they probably can send another current at contact and destabilise your shield/blade, making them useless. It is probably easier to cause the material to return to liquid than to keep it in shield form so unless you are using it against someone you know doesn't have the technological level to do it you are giving the enemy an advantage.

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  • $\begingroup$ Or perhaps more comically, render your sword/shield hardened in an inconvenient shape, like the form of a red balloon inflated in the shape of a kitten. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 15 '17 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ All you need to stop the T-1000 is a car battery, a few yards of copper cable and a little bit of know how. $\endgroup$ – ThreeLifes Mar 15 '17 at 19:07
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For shields it would likely be doable with a magnetic, non-newtonian fluid.

The magnetic part would let you manipulate the shape a bit, although probably only to keep it stuck to the surface of some rigid material unless you have really good field control and a lot of power to spare.

Non-newtonian fluids are basically like silly-putty. They flow to some extent under slow, constant pressure, but harden if struck sharply. Some of the newest body armour today uses them to allow flexibility, while still hardening during an impact to be almost as strong as a traditional strike plate. Modern armour does it by saturating an absorbant, carbon-fiber mesh with the fluid rather than magnets, but compact power sources and precisely controlled electromagnets wouldn't be a ridiculous thing to find in a sci-fi setting.

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