Thursday, 28 November 2013


Another common sf prop is a disintegrating gun. Again, Poul Anderson, in The War Of Two Worlds (New York, 1959), makes this cliche real by going into detail: a dense force-field, generated and projected in a tight beam without noise or recoil, then encountering matter, reacts with intermolecular forces and yields its energy to the molecules, forcing them to fly apart, reducing the object not to single particles, because the molecular bonds are too strong, but certainly into separate chunks.

The gun, charged by an alloy in a metastable energy state, can be adjusted so that a wide beam kills a man "...noiselessly by disrupting cell nuclei..." (p. 93) whereas a narrow beam blows a thin segment to atoms at greater range. And the principle has many peaceful applications although weapons were invented first.

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