RE: Nanotech Arms Race

Billy Brown (
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 14:56:26 -0600

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> Lessee, you can make a 10 kiloton weapon these days to fit in a suitcase,
> say, generously that that suitcase still weighs in at 100 kilos., so 100
> kilogram devices can produce 10 million kilograms of TNT levels of
> power. A ratio of 100,000 to 1. If a microgram nuke device is
proportionate in
> capability, if there is not a steep falloff in capability, then it should
> produce the equivalent of 100 grams of TNT of explosive force. This is far
> from a trivial amount if a robotic bug can deliver it into your
> its equal to a good fraction of a stick of dynamite blowing up in your
> ear.... Whatever is left gets fried from radiation....

Actually, my understanding is that 'suitcase' nukes are generally under 0.1 kT, and they are still a lot bigger than suitcases - 50 kg is a pretty good weight estimate. At any rate, there is no straight conversion from weight to explosive force - the smaller the bomb gets, the less efficient it becomes.

Also, as I said before, a really small bomb won't produce an explosion at all. If you could build a microgram nuke (which you can't), it would simply produce a sharp burst of radiation (mostly x-rays). If it goes off in your ear, most of the energy will pass right through you and be absorbed by the surrounding building, ground, air, etc. It might cause radiation sickness, but with even primitive medical nanotech it takes an awful lot of radiation to kill people.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I