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First question here; not sure how well it fits this site...

I'm looking for a reasonably believable way to explain how someone could walk around in a space/combat suit (not a giant robo-suit; more like Iron-Man type suit), and carry "stuff" that is between 1000X and 10000X more heavy/voluminous than the wearer, without being encumbered.

I've thought of multiple possibilities, but they all have major problems:

1) Some force-field massively reducing the electromagnetic repulsion between atoms. It would cause things to become "smaller" (after all, mater is mostly made of void anyway), by allowing atoms to get closer to each other (the archetypal shrink-ray). Problem: without a reduction in mass, you still could not move all that weight.

2) Create a portal into some empty sub-space/alternate universe, and store your stuff there (like "flat space technology" in Ultraviolet). Problem: This would logically allow you to carry an infinite amount of stuff with you.

3) Dematerialize matter into pure energy, stored in a "battery", and record the "object pattern" as information in "memory". (like Star-Trek replicators) Problems: This would imply an ability to produce unlimited amount of energy by transforming any matter into energy (without an equivalent amount of anti-matter). As I want to use energy as the world's currency, that would not work for me. Also, it would allow easy "cloning" of anything (dirt->energy->titanium, for example), which would be disastrous for the economy.

4) Dematerialize matter into a "quantum pattern" where information and energy are inseparable, and store them into (fixed-size) "memory crystals" (like "transport beams" from Wraith Dart ships in Stargate Atlantis). The size/weight of the crystals would limit the amount being carried. Problem: You could just store lots of stuff in "memory crystals", put them in a box, and store the box in a single "memory crystal", thereby allowing (indirectly) to carry an infinite amount of stuff again.

5) A mass-effect field would eliminate most of the weight. Problem: The volume would still be the same, and totally unwieldy.

6) Warp space itself, as a black-hole would, around the object, so that it's "bigger inside" then outside, and store it in a box. Problems: I can't imagine how this would affect the mass. While SciFi often shows people with hand-held disintegrators, something that can literally warp space like a black-hole sounds like it should be the size of a space-ship drive, not a gun.

I'm looking either for a way to explain-away the problems of any solution I mentioned, or some alternative that doesn't have any of the mentioned problems.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, welcome to Worldbuilding! The way your 'quantum pattern would actually work is a little more complicated than that - yes, you can store an infinite amount of information in a single atom, but recovering that information is impossible, as such, a certain amount of matter could only store a finite amount of information if you want to recover it. As an example of a physical, existing thing (note: this is ignoring the whole energy storage thing, which is an entirely different game...) see the Superman memory crystal $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Aug 30 '17 at 23:10
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    $\begingroup$ A comment on number 2, that system would only allow you to carry an infinite amount of stuff if the company manufacturing these devices were satisfied with only selling each person one unit ;) $\endgroup$ – Robbie Mckennie Aug 30 '17 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that a combination of numbers 1 and 5, each would cancel out the problem of the other. $\endgroup$ – Robbie Mckennie Aug 30 '17 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ A comment on 4. Maybe you can introduce some 'special' matter the memory crystals consist of. This higher-order matter cannot be decomposed and stored as pure info within another (even high-order) matter. That may work, though it is more like a cheap trick. $\endgroup$ – user2851843 Aug 31 '17 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ about your doubts towards your own solutions: we have superconductors that put no resistance to current. we could thus transport an infinite amount of current through a wisp of a wire ... if it weren't for the pesky restrictions: max current density, magnetic field nodes, etc. So we as humans are cool with restrictions: Flat Space that can only fit things smaller than X, fit them only with velocity v, have the Flat Space open for max time t, no copper-tin alloys above 30/40 ratios, sure why not. $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm Apr 10 at 15:01
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I pick 2.

2) Create a portal into some empty sub-space/alternate universe, and store your stuff there (like "flat space technology" in Ultraviolet). Problem: This would logically allow you to carry an infinite amount of stuff with you.

You sidestep the problem by using a fourth spatial dimension. Your stuff resides in a 3 dimensional space accessible from your space.

There are an infinite number of 3 dimensional spaces in a 4 dimensional space, just as there are an infinite number of squares "stacked" in a cube. So: yes, infinite stuff. Remember it might be hard to find the thing you want when you are rummaging around in there and this aspect can also limit usefulness - for example if I have a warehouse in an adjacent 3d dimension I might not just be able to reach in and grab what I want, unless I have left it right by the entrance. It would be like the Room of Hidden Things in Harry Potter.
room of requirement, brightened up screenshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if_aEmVZg9g

Making this viable for a story: you conserve mass. This limits how much you can have in this reservoir and still move it. In this scheme, a 4-dimensional object contains the sum of the masses of three dimensional objects contained in the space. Being a 3d creature I cannot personally exert a vector force on an object through the 4th dimension, and so enabling that will have to be part of how this works. I can however exert a force in any of my 3d dimensions.

Suppose a 4 dimensional object extends from my 3d dimension to an adjacent one. I take hold of the 3d aspect I see and I move it along. I am also moving mass in the (unseen by me) contiguous 3d dimension. The 3d object I am holding has much more inertia that it seems like it should because I am moving the rest of it. So with the 4d bag: moving it in my dimension also moves its contents in the adjacent 3d dimension.

This takes care of voluminous - all the volume is in another dimension. Your iron man is on his own with the 1000x more massive. Maybe he should try to be less of a wuss, work out now and then? Iron Man suited up can lift 100 tons so that would be like me suited up lifting 5 tons. Should be no problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ What if you are using the warehouse the "Lost Ark" was stored inside.....;) $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Aug 31 '17 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, the infinite space problem in 4th dimension can be exploited in various ways. There can be special devices that operate with 4th dimension and allow people to manage the space properly. Rich people may have better devices, poor ones use only minimum functionality. Or there can even be some kind of "warehousers" - guys with twisted psycho mind who are able to perceive 4th dimension and operate with the matter stored inside somehow. Useful for large amounts of items. $\endgroup$ – user2851843 Aug 31 '17 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ ... or just for carrying oranges $\endgroup$ – mcalex Aug 31 '17 at 7:57
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    $\begingroup$ I was wondering what would happen if you opened up such a space under the ocean and let the ocean flow into it. For one it would get heavy, because the mass of all the ingested water would be concentrated at the site of your magic bag. It would sink. Then it would sink into the ocean floor and keep going, like a piece of preternaturally dense neutronium. Then it would hit magma and burn up. I am not sure what happens to the water in the adjacent 3d dimensional space. $\endgroup$ – Willk Aug 31 '17 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ If you are relying on swanky advanced tech to solve workaday problems like storing stuff and toting it around, you are at the mercy of your tech. If you fry your flux capacitor, you cannot access your food and clothes in your 4th dimensional storage place. That is a fine SF angle too. $\endgroup$ – Willk Aug 31 '17 at 20:23
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Researchers have already developed prototype artificial muscles that are 100x as strong as our real muscles. With that in mind, it's not hard to believe that a future advancements would allow artificial muscles to be thousands of times stronger than real muscles. Creating ultra-strong artificial muscles and integrating them into an exosuit also seems more practical and realistic than using portals or dematerializing the cargo (though perhaps not as cool!).

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    $\begingroup$ I believe the question was more about how to carry the stuff that is 1000 times bigger than you, not what this kind of suit can do. Though I'm somewhat curious too what kind of strength can be achieved with x1000 weight. $\endgroup$ – user2851843 Aug 31 '17 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ Carrying 100x BW (around 10 tonnes) is pretty simple for a mechanical suit and quite believable - but the question is for one or two orders of magnitude greater. 10,000 times BW is 1,000 tonnes or the weight of a small ship which is not going to happen by purely mechanical means. $\endgroup$ – Matt Bowyer Aug 31 '17 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind the artificial muscles I cited have 100x the strength of real muscles; the 100x metric is not related to body weight. $\endgroup$ – user45623 Sep 1 '17 at 5:33
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Nanites

You could carry nanobots, with the appropiate program they could create almost anything that you could need under most settings. Colonel Santiago is better explaining than me.

Industrial Grade Nano-Paste, one of Planet's most valuable commodities, can also be one of its most dangerous. Simply pour out several canisters, slide in a programming transponder, and step well away while the stuff cooks. In under an hour the nano will use available materials to assemble a small factory, a hovertank, or enough rifles to equip a regiment.

Col. Corazon Santiago, "Planet: A Survivalist's Guide"

Accompanies the Secret Project "The Nano Factory"

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I recognize this quote. :) Generally, nanites are assumed to be able to self-replicate. If they require you to provide the appropriate atomic elements for them to do their work, you still need to carry lots of stuff; just "raw" stuff. If, OTOH, they can transmute atomic elements as well, they basically give you god-like power, which would "ruin the plot". $\endgroup$ – Sebastien Diot Aug 31 '17 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ If what's required are common elements, then you wouldn't need to carry them with you -- but you might need to put in an effort to find them. E.g., our protagonist has a chip for constructing a flyer, but can't use it until they find a big pile of scrap metal. $\endgroup$ – bgvaughan Aug 31 '17 at 20:04
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"How would a mech suit carry 1000x times its weight"

Ants literally can do that, so it's pretty believeable to say that mech suits could do that too in the near future, just with regular mechanical properties we know and use right now, just with better engineering.

If you want the same to go for volume as well, go for your proposal 1), since the mass problem is taken care of.

Now if you want ridiculous factors like " a billion times it's size" you need a more far fetched approach, but since that nears "infinite" you already had some solit ideas yourself

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You would need a suit made of supportive fibre that takes all the weight off your bones. But in order for you to move it would also need to support your joints while moving, and for this it would have to read your intention to move from your brain, in order to make immediate adjustments. Two problems remain. How to balance the weight so that it doesn't pull you over, and how to stop you sinking through the floor. The best place to balance the weight is on the top of your head, where it could most easily be adjusted to shift according to your movements. For the second problem you would need enormous soles on your feet, like huge snow shoes; and it is this that would limit the amount of weight you could move with.

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