Quasi-plausible explanation of an absurdly powerful explosive?
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Author:  Agemegos [ Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:06 am ]
Post subject:  Quasi-plausible explanation of an absurdly powerful explosive?

ForeSight (the SF RPG using which I established the conventions of my perennial SF RPG setting Flat Black) features a skiffy explosive called "DEXAX" (the name is cribbed from the works of Jack Vance). DEXAX in ForeSight has about sixty times the explosive effect of TNT and is dangerous to work with (about like dynamite). It becomes available at TL 7 (a whole tech level later than commercial fusion power); higher-tech replacements plasdex and durex are safer and easier to work with, but not as powerful. One of the most effective smallarms technologies at TL8 is explosive bullets (fired from electromagnetic weapons) with plasdex warheads.

When forced to rationalise DEXAX I used to say that it consisted of monomolecular Penning traps, with a couple of iron atoms in each molecule to make the magnetic fields, each confining an up-down pair of positrons. Detonation disrupted the molecules, allowing the positrons to annihilate electrons and giving rise to gamma rays that were absorbed by the debris of the Penning molecule (producing heat) and by intact neighbouring Penning molecules, disrupting them. Engineers referred to it as "chelated antimatter".

This technobabble no longer cuts the mustard. Can you suggest something more plausible?

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Quasi-plausible explanation of an absurdly powerful explosive?

I'll be honest, if anyone cares more than that, they can come up with an explanation of their own. :)

Author:  Agemegos [ Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Quasi-plausible explanation of an absurdly powerful explosive?

Well, the enthalpy of detonation of TNT is about 4.184 MJ/kg, corresponding to an exhaust velocity of 2.9 km/sec which is kind of comparable with solid-fuel rockets. So that makes sense. DEXAX has sixty times the specific energy so SQRT(60) times the specific impulse: 22.4 km/sec. That's beyond the values the GURPS Spaceships suggests for HEDM* rockets (10 mi./sec), but maybe if I tone DEXAX down to, say, thirty times the explosive power of TNT it will still be terrifying but not require me to posit nuclear energy being involved.

* HEDM: …"high energy-density materials such as metallic hydrogen or metastable helium"…

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