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Thread: What is the most powerful form of destruction known to science?

  1. #1 What is the most powerful form of destruction known to science? 
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    My question holds for fully observed phenomena as well as theoretical ones.

    Michio Kaku, when talking about the Kardashev scale, stated that a Type II civilization is virtually immortal and that no known force to science can completely wipe out a Type II. I'm not sure about that, at least considering future realizations.

    1. What is the most powerful man-made force today? I'm pretty sure it's the nuclear bomb, but I could be wrong.

    2. Natural force as today? I would think a supernova, a gamma ray burst, maybe even a super-massive black hole?

    3. Time for speculation? What could, within reasonable bounds of speculation, an advanced future civilization create to yield maximum destruction?


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    1: Nuclear weapons are most certainly devestating. We have weapons today that we only know theoreticaly What the damage capacity is as they have never been test detonated. However we have also been experimenting with the physics behind "kinetic kill weaponry". In theory a kinetic weapon would be a heavy tungsten steel rod that, when fired toward the ground from orbit, would impact with the force of a nuclear weapon. However when we are talking destruction one should never discount the myriad bio-weapons in storage and under development. For more on the Kinetic bombardment weapons read about Project THORKinetic bombardment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    2: The most powerful natural force is most likely a black hole however for destructive properties I would have to say a Super-Nova as the scale of destruction is spread across greater distances.

    3: A suitably advanced civilization could have the ability to create micro blackholes or cause suns to go Nova. Speculation delves into science fiction because anything is possible if you have the technology.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    1. What is the most powerful man-made force today? I'm pretty sure it's the nuclear bomb, but I could be wrong.
    Man has never made a force. But i will say this: Matter-Anti-Matter annihilation. However, that doesn't mean we've harnessed it to destroy anything on a massive level.

    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    2. Natural force as today? I would think a supernova, a gamma ray burst, maybe even a super-massive black hole?
    Nuclear warhead. Todau we are not in possession of the technology to manipulate those things.

    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    3. Time for speculation? What could, within reasonable bounds of speculation, an advanced future civilization create to yield maximum destruction?
    By definition: Unknown.
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    The question is are we talking a humanly controled weapon or a natural disaster? If limited to what we could actually do to ourselves, intentionally, I would go with using a nuke tipped missle to deflect a big asteroid into a collision course with earth. We could do that if we were bent on racial suicide. I guess that is technically a kinetic weapon.
    Bio weapons are unlikly to be totally fatal. The worst we have ever experienced was the black death which while it had a serious impact on it, did not destroy western civilization. It killed a quarter of the population of Europe but civilization survived.
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  6. #5  
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    Self replicating life can be pretty destructive. One life form's order is another life form's chaos.

    The trick is to give that life form the power to wield weapons of mass destruction, and then set it loose. And then.... figure out a way so it doesn't just come back and destroy its creators.
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    antimater/matter annilation-- nothing left but energy or sub atoic particles
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney View Post
    antimater/matter annilation-- nothing left but energy or sub atoic particles
    That is a mistaken belief.

    1) There is no difference between the amount of energy that one starts with than with how much one ends with. Energy is conseved, therefore there is no change in it.

    2) The result of a matter/anti-matter collision is photons. Some people mistakenly think of photons as pure energy, which is just plain silly. There is no basis for it.
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    pmb: there is a basis for it. Start with an electromagnetic wave or photon wherein E=hf and p=hf/c. Add a second photon, and employ two-photon physics to perform pair production. Now you have an electron and a positron wherein E=mc˛. Then introduce a third photon and perform Compton scattering. The electron moves whilst the incident photon loses energy. Perform another Compton scattering with the reduced-energy photon on another electron and repeat ad-infinitum until you can discern no photon any more. The photon has been converted into electron motion. It's been converted into kinetic energy. The inference from that is that the photon is nothing more than kinetic energy in space. In Compton scattering some of this is lost to an entity created out of... kinetic energy in space! Have another read of Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content? Pay attention to sentences like "The kinetic energy of the body with respect to (ξ ɳ Ϛ) diminishes as a result of the emission of light" Also check out electron-positron annihilation. A radiating body loses mass. In annihilation, it loses all of it, and then it isn't there any more. And we don't say "matter is converted to energy" for nothing.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    .......The inference from that is that the photon is nothing more than kinetic energy in space.

    Now tell me something I don't know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    ... A radiating body loses mass.
    Again, tell me something I don't already know. My web site is littered with this fact. E.g. please see
    http://home.comcast.net/~peter.m.bro...ergy_equiv.htm
    http://home.comcast.net/~peter.m.bro...steins_box.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    In annihilation, it loses all of it, and then it isn't there any more.
    Again, please tell me something I don't know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    And we don't say "matter is converted to energy" for nothing.
    When people say "matter is converted to energy" they are making a mistake. The correct phrase is "matter is converted to radiation".
    The energy has remained unchanged. If you were to calculate the amount of energy before an interaction/decay/annihilation/whatever and then after it then you'd find that it remained the same. Even the total mass remains constant, so long a you know how to calculate it.

    Someone made a note of all of this in a physics journal right after the first nuke was detonated. Would you like me to quote it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    My question holds for fully observed phenomena as well as theoretical ones.

    Michio Kaku, when talking about the Kardashev scale, stated that a Type II civilization is virtually immortal and that no known force to science can completely wipe out a Type II. I'm not sure about that, at least considering future realizations.

    1. What is the most powerful man-made force today? I'm pretty sure it's the nuclear bomb, but I could be wrong.

    2. Natural force as today? I would think a supernova, a gamma ray burst, maybe even a super-massive black hole?

    3. Time for speculation? What could, within reasonable bounds of speculation, an advanced future civilization create to yield maximum destruction?
    Can't get why nobody has answered all of them correctly. Haha.

    1. A lever. As you can lift the universe, if you have a lever long enough.

    2. The big bang. The explosion of everything.

    3. The biggest form of destruction is always wrath. So.... Wrath it is...
    3a. Though if you are speaking of a technology to yield maximum destruction. That would possibly be a weapon to destabilize stars, and make them go supernova.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmb View Post
    ...Again, please tell me something I don't know...
    Pete, are you flaming me!?

    The important point is that the photon is converted into the kinetic energy of those electrons. Which can be made... out of photons. Then you can do two-photon physics to make protons and antiprotons, then you can make hydrogen, then planets and cannonballs, and energy is always conserved. Think it through. You've spent a long time doing what you do, go the extra mile.

    I'm off to bed.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    Pete, are you flaming me!?

    I don't understand ow you got that impression. To flame means to be hostile or insulting. I never meant to be either. I'm sorry if you got that impression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    The important point is that the photon is converted into the kinetic energy of those electrons.
    I don't intend on saying more than my last post since it is my belief that anything that can be said of this I already said.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    The question is are we talking a humanly controled weapon or a natural disaster? If limited to what we could actually do to ourselves, intentionally, I would go with using a nuke tipped missle to deflect a big asteroid into a collision course with earth. We could do that if we were bent on racial suicide. I guess that is technically a kinetic weapon.
    Bio weapons are unlikly to be totally fatal. The worst we have ever experienced was the black death which while it had a serious impact on it, did not destroy western civilization. It killed a quarter of the population of Europe but civilization survived.
    I asked about both a human-controlled, human-made weapon/force, and a natural force separately. I made three different numbers, the first for human today. The second for natural disaster/event, observed or theoretical. The third for what an advanced future civilization might be able to do, in our speculation of course.

    I might have been unclear about what kind of destruction I meant. I intended to say raw, physical destruction. Though a bio-weapon might harm a human, the general effect wouldn't be so significant. An anti-disease resistant strain of super-anthrax may potentially wipe out the human species, but it couldn't chip a rock. So I think bio-weapons are out of the picture, or maybe not, if you have better insight.

    As for your kinetic weapon, that seems pretty effective, and not far from reality at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post

    Can't get why nobody has answered all of them correctly. Haha.

    1. A lever. As you can lift the universe, if you have a lever long enough.

    2. The big bang. The explosion of everything.

    3. The biggest form of destruction is always wrath. So.... Wrath it is...
    3a. Though if you are speaking of a technology to yield maximum destruction. That would possibly be a weapon to destabilize stars, and make them go supernova.
    In response to your 3...

    1. Not sure a sci-fi novel titled "The Cosmic Lever of Doom" would be a big-seller...

    2. The Big Bang ... hmm, interesting thought. Though I'm no expert, I believe the idea is that it is a rapid expansion of space and *all that stuff*, not an explosion as you and I would commonly think. But, there's a hypothesis related to multiverse theory that a "brane" could expand spontaneously at any given moment. So, if a brane expansion would happen to occur under my chair, who knows what the effects on our universe would be. This one is more speculation; cool thought though.

    3. Wrath? Oh yes, the wrath of an angry wife could certainly devastate the cosmos!
    3a. A nearby supernova would definitely not be the choice of observance for us humans (as opposed to the quite harmless Venus transit. I missed it. Damn clouds got in the way). The other biggest response in this sense of thought would be a device able to create super massive black holes (like that recent Star Trek movie. Red matter, is it?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    In response to your 3...

    1. Not sure a sci-fi novel titled "The Cosmic Lever of Doom" would be a big-seller...

    2. The Big Bang ... hmm, interesting thought. Though I'm no expert, I believe the idea is that it is a rapid expansion of space and *all that stuff*, not an explosion as you and I would commonly think. But, there's a hypothesis related to multiverse theory that a "brane" could expand spontaneously at any given moment. So, if a brane expansion would happen to occur under my chair, who knows what the effects on our universe would be. This one is more speculation; cool thought though.

    3. Wrath? Oh yes, the wrath of an angry wife could certainly devastate the cosmos!
    3a. A nearby supernova would definitely not be the choice of observance for us humans (as opposed to the quite harmless Venus transit. I missed it. Damn clouds got in the way). The other biggest response in this sense of thought would be a device able to create super massive black holes (like that recent Star Trek movie. Red matter, is it?)
    1. The lever was metaphorical. As long as you increase the size, or mass of a destructive object, it can become infinitely destructive, so i chose the least obvious one.

    2. If, the big bang was a naturally occuring "explosion" it would have been the most destructive force we could ever know off.

    3. With wrath i was pointing out something metaphorical as well. If the wish to do harm is enough we could do infinitely much to one another.
    3a. Making some stars go supernova would result in some cases to a black hole. So this covers it as well.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post

    1. The lever was metaphorical. As long as you increase the size, or mass of a destructive object, it can become infinitely destructive, so i chose the least obvious one.

    2. If, the big bang was a naturally occuring "explosion" it would have been the most destructive force we could ever know off.

    3. With wrath i was pointing out something metaphorical as well. If the wish to do harm is enough we could do infinitely much to one another.
    3a. Making some stars go supernova would result in some cases to a black hole. So this covers it as well.
    1. Of course I knew it was metaphorical. Well, one could think of it as a lever that when pulled, triggers some massive destructive event, i.e. your Cosmic Lever of Doom. The thing about increasing size though, is the reasonable limitations of size. By "infinitely destructive", you must mean that it is without limit (but in the sense still finite), in which case saying "infinitely" actually implies an infinite amount. I'm sure making a galaxy sized nuclear bomb would have complications that inhibit the full process until resulting destruction.

    2. True. Ever heard of the Big Crunch theory? Space is expanding right now, but in some hypotheses it reaches a critical point at maximum and starts rebounding back, shrinking until it eventually crushes all things into an infinitesimal point. Actually, the "fate of the universe" theories are all quite destructive, also including the Big Rip (no, not passing gas).

    3. I find that purely philosophical and meaningless. Unless you are telekinetic and can manifest your anger in physical destruction, then maybe so. We could, in a limited fashion, control some things with our mind, e.g. a video game character's movement, so it's not total nonsense.
    3a. Fish
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    1. Most powerful weapons of destruction which are man made are by far the Nuclear- Fusion bombs.

    2. ....... This has already been smartly answered ( The Big BANG )

    3. Well, theoretically speaking, an advanced future society can convert half the universe to anti matter and let it annhiliate the matter half of it. Enough to end the universe ( Of course, they wouldnt be that stupid. Note : Cost related issues weren't taken into consideration while writing this. )
    Last edited by TheNorthStar; June 15th, 2012 at 06:17 AM. Reason: Spell correction
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  19. #18  
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    Kinetic energy can be pretty powerful, such as from a single particle moving close to C.

    Ultra-high-energy cosmic ray - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



    [quote]
    The first observation of a cosmic ray particle with an energy exceeding 1.0×1020 eV (16 J) was made by Dr John D Linsley and Livio Scarsi at the Volcano Ranch experiment in New Mexico in 1962.[1][2]
    Cosmic ray particles with even higher energies have since been observed. Among them was the Oh-My-God particle observed on the evening of 15 October 1991 over Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. Its observation was a shock to astrophysicists, who estimated its energy to be approximately 3×1020 eV (50 J)[3]—in other words, a subatomic particle with kinetic energy equal to that of abaseball (5 ounces or 142 grams) traveling at about 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph). It was most probably a proton traveling very close to the speed of light, slower by only about 1.5 femtometers (quadrillionths of a meter) per second, or about 0.9999999999999999999999951c, based on its observed energy. At that speed, in a year-long race between light and the particle, the particle would fall behind only 46 nanometers, or 0.15 femtoseconds (1.5×10−16 s).[4]
    [
    /quote]
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    kojax, that's surprising. And the "Oh My God particle" is quite a comical name But for me, intuitively it doesn't seem like that could do much damage just because of its mere size, regardless of its kinetic energy. How would the energy distribute through a large body to cause any significant destruction when it's submicroscopic?
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  21. #20  
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    Ahh the famous "it seems to me" reason to reject physics knowledge
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    MeteorWayne, I do not and never did reject the information in kojax's reply and I don't understand how you saw that from my post. My intuition was deemed wrong (which is completely ordinary for people trying to learn something), and thus I asked a sincere question so that someone could clear my confusion. As a moderator, I'm sure you've had to deal with a lot of frustrating behavior, but this isn't one of those times. If you could, reread that post and see I intended no such thing.
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  23. #22  
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    A friend of mine was reading over my shoulder and asked, "Does that mean light can hurt you?" My reply was "Yes, just think of a laser". But now I am wondering if this was a bad example. Do photons by themselves cause damage? I know they have no measurable mass but now I am wondering
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  24. #23  
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    When photons are absorbed by a substance, they cause it to heat up. That's why lasers are used to burn through things.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Because lasers are much more energetic than ordinary light... or am I totally wrong?
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    I remember laser stands for Light Amplified Stimulated Emmision of Radiation. But what about the photons from a household lightbulb. Are they actually harmful?
    Not all who wander are lost... Some of us just misplaced our destination.

    I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.
    -Jack London
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