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So the desired result is a compound that can be left in relatively isolated area, isolated such that weather has no direct affect on the area, and that will ignite/explode when touched, even after sitting in this area for a few thousand years. I am aware of things like touch powder that will explode violently when touched but that is a little too volatile. Simply grazing the compound should not be enough to set it off but resting a hand or something similar should. Is such a compound scientifically realistic?

If there is no chemical that can achieve this under the long time constraint then what would be a simple alternative? The lower the amount of developed science that it would take to achieve this affect, the better.

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    $\begingroup$ 1000 years is a long time in the world of explosives, much less for one with such an extremely high sensitivity. I don't know of many things which can keep their potential energy for that long, but have you considered a garden-variety trap? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 5 '17 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ I have, especially considering the low tech requirements I set; however the desire remains to have a character touch a trap and be set of fire from touch, the explosion being the flame that sets them off. $\endgroup$ – William C. May 5 '17 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ "Very long lasting" primary explosives have their stability measured in decades, not millennia. The more sensitive they need to be, the shorter their lifespan. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon May 5 '17 at 0:56
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    $\begingroup$ I could see a device that causes several stable components to mix together upon touch, causing an exothermic and highly energetic reaction, but not a single stable compound $\endgroup$ – Richie Frame May 5 '17 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ Setting aside, for the moment, if a chemical can actually be stable or not - It's worth noting that not many places stick around for 1000 years without some form of disturbance that would likely set off something like that. Is it possible? Yes, absolutely. Just make sure you keep the previous millennium clear of things like earthquakes and rock slides and large-scale carpet bombing. $\endgroup$ – Andon May 5 '17 at 2:06
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Get a chunk of an alkali metal, like sodium or potassium. Encase it a well sealed chunk of glass. While it won't last forever, the glass should protect the alkali metal for a very long time, and everything else in the system should last for a similar amount of time.

Create a mechanical booby trap that will drop something that will break the glass followed by a sluice of water. You can shape the chamber that the resulting reaction blasts out in the direction you want. For extra fun combine with a similarly sealed packet of phosphorus and some other long lasting flammable liquid.Brainiac the TV showgave me the idea, thought the results they demonstrate were faked. The link gives us a more realistic view of alkali metals and how they work.

TL;DR is they react with water producing heat and hydrogen. That means they go boom

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No. You can't both have isolated a material for 1000's of years from everything* in its environment that will degrade/contaminate it and have it be exposed for human touch. (* pollutants (SO2, NOx, CO2, Ozone), oxygen, humidity, UV light, visible light, dust, dirt, bacteria, mold, insects, mice, etc. etc. Not to mention the random rat droppings, bat droppings, fallen leaves, pebbles, etc. Not to mention natural temperature variations.) You misuse the term "volatile", I believe. You mean unstable? "Lowest tech" presumes that technology is linear. It. is. not. (Which is lower tech: black powder or penicillin?) The most realistic approach has been mentioned: a trap, perhaps a pressure plate connected to a mechanism that mixes two components. If I were going to build a trap which would work after 1000's of years, and which would explode or ignite after such a long time, I'd use hypergolics (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergolic_propellant). For instance, kerosene in one sealed bottle, aniline in a second, and nitric acid (fuming or "white" preferably) in a 3rd. Designing and building such a trap would include (imho) the intention that it be operational for 1000's of years, and that's a problem. At that time scale, seismic motions have to be considered. There would have to be assumptions made about climate and geography. Components would have to be very stable. There's nothing particularly "high tech" as far as aniline or nitric acid. Aniline is a component of coal tar, which itself was "discovered" in 1665 C.E. (after that date physical separation of aniline would have been possible, if needed.) Nitric acid in the 13th Century, although the concentrated form I'm referring to may not have been available until the 1700's. The problem I see is the trap's mechanism. I think it would be difficult to build one which you could be relatively sure would work after 1000's of years, unless kept in a very stable environment. And I know of no realistic way to keep an environment stable for 1000's of years.

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  • $\begingroup$ You have a lot to say in this answer. Could you edit it for clarity? $\endgroup$ – sphennings May 5 '17 at 18:13
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The closest thing I can think of is metallic sodium or potasium, suspended above a pool of water, but I'm not a chemist and I don't know how much time it could exists in its metallic form - I suppose it would oxydize quickly.

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A single drop of antimatter kept inside of a magnetic suspension chamber with a charge that lasts 1,000 years might do it. But making it sensitive enough to be set off would be an issue.

Also the degradation of the materials used to construct the canister would be questionable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Depending on your definition of "Drop" you could be looking at a nuclear-level detonation. $\endgroup$ – Andon May 5 '17 at 21:27

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