Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

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SSWarlock
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Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby SSWarlock » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:12 pm

There have been a number of Traveller-related discussions over the past decades regarding nuclear dampers and particle accelerator weapons. So I'd thought I'd start another. Under Mongoose's 1e/2e versions, can a nuclear damper screen be used to "clean" radiation from a target about to be boarded or does the ND screen's anti-radiation effect only the ship mounting the screen? If so, any thoughts on what skill roll(s) would be necessary to accomplish this goal?

Edit: Silly me. I should've checked Traveller Wiki first; it seems to imply it can. Mea culpa.
http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Nuclear_Damper
Last edited by SSWarlock on Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby AnotherDilbert » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:36 pm

No such rule.

I don't think dampers can be used to remove radioactivity, just temporarily suspend nuclear decay.

I would not allow dampers affect another ship.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby SSWarlock » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 pm

Well, Traveller Wiki says a damper can be used to remove radiation from an area. Question: is a ship the same as "an area"? Ships are made of rather dense things like structural members and, sometimes, dense armor. An area may be just a open field. Regardless of what Traveller Wiki says, I'm also leaning toward "no, it can't".
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Condottiere » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:56 pm

You mean a screen against radiation from beam weapons?

The explosive effects still occurring.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby SSWarlock » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:59 am

Condottiere wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:56 pm
You mean a screen against radiation from beam weapons?

The explosive effects still occurring.
More of a ship zaps a target into submission with a particle accelerator weapon and then wants to send over some boarders for some "inventory and acquisition". However, the boarders don't want to suffer the effects associated with traipsing the corridors (and cargo hold) of a radioactive ship.

Me, I'm thinking a GM's response should be "Then you shouldn't have used radiation-causing weapons" but I want to try to stay within the 1e/2e rules as intended rather than house-ruling the situation.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Reynard » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:13 am

From Striker Book 2:
"Radiation Suppression: Another use of nuclear dampers is to eliminate the
radioactive contamination created by a nuclear weapon detonation. Instead of
performing its usual missions, a damper may be assigned to eliminate the radiation
from one nuclear strike per fire phase. Both the crater and the area of induced
radiation are rendered permanently harmless."

This is a battlefield damper system mounted on a vehicle and starts at TL 13. It seems to operate the same as a ship ND system so this information should be applicable to both.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby SSWarlock » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:35 am

Well, that does pretty much answer my question, as far as Traveller canon goes. NDs definitely can clean a radiated ship of the radiation. Just a matter of figuring out how long it'll take to do so.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby baithammer » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:43 am

The problem is the damper has conflicting mechanics, in High Guard usage it strictly inhibits fission / fusion from occurring and somehow manages to also prevent radiation ( Even though the materials involved would have radioactive effects outside fission /fusion.), whereas the vehicles version becomes a general purpose radiation scrubber.

Honestly, it should only have the High Guard affect as that is much simpler and has less ramifications. ( Only Nuclear / Fusion weapons affected.)
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby AnotherDilbert » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:58 am

AnotherDilbert wrote: I don't think dampers can be used to remove radioactivity, just temporarily suspend nuclear decay.

I would not allow dampers affect another ship.
Apparently I was completely wrong on both counts, I must have been confused by the Damper Box. Striker is a treasure trove of information.

SSWarlock wrote: More of a ship zaps a target into submission with a particle accelerator weapon and then wants to send over some boarders for some "inventory and acquisition". However, the boarders don't want to suffer the effects associated with traipsing the corridors (and cargo hold) of a radioactive ship.
There should be very little residual radiation from particle hits.

The residual radiation from nuclear blasts is mostly comes from the matter in (or produced by) the bomb. Particle and meson weapons don't have that problem.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Reynard » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:06 pm

"I must have been confused by the Damper Box"

Damper boxes are used to safely store nuclear munitions by suppressing their toxic radiation and allowing lots of munitions to be stored together.
Nuclear damper is an active system that quickly breaks down the radioactivity of an object rendering it inert.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Condottiere » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:25 pm

I always had the impression that outside of the box, you need a sort of positive and negative pole, and the range would be very short.

That's why I came up with the deradioactive car wash for spaceships.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Reynard » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:15 pm

That's what the nuclear damper system (as opposed to Damper boxes) does as described in the quote I gave above. The main purpose of the NDS is essentially deactivating incoming nuclear munitions as a vehicle or ship system point defense. Someone along the way noticed moving the two node across an irradiated area swept it clean.

As another counterpoint to the Damper box, you can scoop up irradiated material and put it in the box suppressing the radiation until it can be disposed of but that's not the box's main purpose.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby steve98052 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:19 pm

Various sources describe nuclear dampers as devices that selectively strengthen or weaken the strong nuclear force. Strengthening it would have the effect of slowing down strong force reactions such as fission and alpha decay (but not beta decay; that's weak force). Weakening it would accelerate strong force reactions, causing fission and alpha decay to happen sooner, and possibly even making normally stable nuclei unstable. At TL16, making stable nuclei unstable can be used to build disintegrator weapons.

So, to use a nuclear damper against a fission bomb, it weakens the strong nuclear force, and the sub-critical masses of fissile material turn critical, and the bomb explodes early, probably in a fizzle. (The words "fissile" and "fizzle" sound confusingly similar, but at least they're distinct in writing.) Most present-day nuclear bombs are fusion-enhanced fission bombs, but causing premature fission would disable them.

To use a nuclear damper against a pure fusion bomb -- which isn't workable with current technology -- the strong force would be weakened until the bomb can be destroyed by point defense weapons.

To use a nuclear damper to make a radioactivity contaminated area temporarily safe, the strong force would be amplified, suppressing radioactivity; to permanently decontaminate an area, it would be weakened, causing radioactive materials to decay promptly (a very bad thing if anyone is there unshielded), leaving only stable nuclei.

A fault in the description of the nuclear damper is that it would not affect weak force radioactivity -- anything that involves beta decay, positron decay, and some other reactions. (Proton-proton fusion involves both strong force and weak force, but isn't relevant to decontamination.) There are a lot of radioactive contaminants that involve weak force, so a nuclear damper shouldn't be useful for them, unless it can also affect weak force (which it's never been described as doing).

Meson weapons presumably generate mesons, which are unstable under strong force. The only way to make them work would be a beam of them stabilized by manipulation of strong force until just before their arrival on target. A meson screen might function by disrupting the strong force manipulation that holds the mesons stable while on their way to the target.

-

Note that particle beam weapons don't have much to do with radioactivity. As described, they seem to be a balanced charged particle beam -- maybe a twin beam of protons and electrons. That would cause a pulse of ionization in the target, which is bad news for living things and electronic devices, and deliver a lot of energy, which is bad for lots of things. Nuclear dampers shouldn't be able to do anything about those effects.

A particle beam would also leave a small amount of induced radioactivity, because a few of the particles would interact with nuclei in the target's atoms, but the chances of such interactions are low compared to the ionization effects. The beam power needed to generate a lot of induced radioactivity is much higher than that needed to kill crew, scramble computers, and melt parts of a ship. In short, there's not much need to decontaminate.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Reynard » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:44 pm

"To use a nuclear damper against a pure fusion bomb -- which isn't workable with current technology"

If I remember correctly, a fusion bomb is initiated by detonating fission bomb within. The damper would inactivate the fission reaction preventing it from creating a fusion reaction.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Condottiere » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:44 am

A sudden decay could still release a lot of energy,

Assuming a rapdily moving target, ie spaceship, a temporary freeze on atomic activity could have the vessel clear of ground zero.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby Reynard » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:31 pm

I'm still wondering after forty years about the rapid decay aspect of the damper system. My take is the device isn't causing an early explosion but an early release of it's stored radioactive potential bringing the core material below a threshold to go critical. It ages the material's half-life. The bomb can still explode as possibly a dirty bomb but not nuclear or it may be drained enough to be a dud.
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Re: Nuclear Dampers & Particle Weapons

Postby steve98052 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:17 pm

Reynard wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:44 pm
"To use a nuclear damper against a pure fusion bomb -- which isn't workable with current technology"

If I remember correctly, a fusion bomb is initiated by detonating fission bomb within. The damper would inactivate the fission reaction preventing it from creating a fusion reaction.
Exactly. If the fission trigger is deactivated, the fusion boost can't work.

A hypothetical pure fusion bomb would require some kind of trigger other than a fission bomb, such a the laser compression used for some laboratory fusion. The problem with that is that laser fusion requires a huge laser system, and huge power generation capacity, neither of which fits in a bomb.

Another possibility, with Traveller science, is some kind of gravitational fusion. Since that is super-science, there's no way to say whether it would fit into a bomb.

Suppose we use a nuclear damper against one of those hypothetical pure fusion bombs. If the damper amplifies the strong force, the hydrogen (and possibly lithium) fuses more easily. It's still not going to fuse without the laser or gravitic trigger, so that doesn't help. But suppose the damper weakens the strong force. In that case, it doesn't fuse even with the trigger, and the bomb fails -- as long as the damper is on when it tries to trigger.
Reynard wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:31 pm
I'm still wondering after forty years about the rapid decay aspect of the damper system. My take is the device isn't causing an early explosion but an early release of it's stored radioactive potential bringing the core material below a threshold to go critical. It ages the material's half-life. The bomb can still explode as possibly a dirty bomb but not nuclear or it may be drained enough to be a dud.
The thing there is that the early release of its radioactivity is going to release a bunch of energy. It might detonate the bomb's high explosive trigger, probably not with the precise timing required for an implosion bomb, and probably not the way a gun design bomb would require either. Likely results would be a fizzle bomb or a hot dirty bomb -- both bad things on a planet, but both harmless in space if the damper makes them happen at a distance.

If the bomb's high explosive trigger doesn't trigger (or the bomb uses some other science fiction trigger), the heat of rapid decay melts the fissile material, and the bomb can't trigger properly. Instead it's a miniature meltdown -- and probably wrecks the bomb's guidance system too, so the ship can dodge the blob of meltdown.

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