In the Dune universe, when a laser weapons hits a shield, both are destroyed in a nuclear explosion reaction.

So instead of building nuclear weapons, wouldn’t it be easier to tie a timer and a “parachute” to a laser gun and drop it from orbit onto your enemy’s city?

  • Aganim@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    The reaction between a shield and laser is completely random, not knowing wether you are going to vaporise a few molecules, an entire city or everything in between makes it very unreliable for warfare purposes.

    And you’d probably find the whole Landsraad against you, as using atomics is outlawed. While a bomb like that isn’t an atomic weapon by definition, the effects are the same and it stands to reason that they’ll therefore still retaliate in full force.

    • Bipta@kbin.social
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      3 months ago

      The reaction between a shield and laser is completely random

      Is this mentioned in the book? I can’t recall.

      • Telodzrum@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        It is, in the opening as well as (more briefly) when Duncan leaves his shield in the desert as a booby trap for the Harkonnen search parties.

      • Richard@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        As far as I know it is random in the sense that the shield-lasgun interaction can either annihilate the target, the laser operator or just culminate in a giant nuclear-like explosion. Therefore you don’t know whether your move will have the intended effect or whether it obliterates only yourself while the enemy is fine. I think this is mentioned early on in the first book.

      • Aganim@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        Hmm, I’ve taken a look and can only find references to the location being random so far. I was quite sure that I’ve also read that the magnitude could vary, but maybe I misremembered. I’ll dig a little further and see if I can find a reference.

    • sailingbythelee@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      The whole lasgun-shield interaction concept is one of the hand-wavy parts of Dune, kind of like the eagles in LOTR, or the ridiculously inaccurate laser blasters in Star Wars.

      Shields in Dune are common defensive technology, which means that lasguns would almost certainly have to be outlawed altogether to prevent some random encounter from turning into nuclear apocalypse.

      In the first movie, I think Villeneuve deals with it somewhat haphazardly. The use of a lasgun at the agricultural research station perhaps makes some sense because shields can’t be used in the open desert without attracting worms. On the other hand, they show lasers being used at the first Battle of Arrakeen in close proximity to other ships that are shown to have active shields.

    • Hugin@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      I remember that the location of the reaction is random and happens anywhere along the beam path. So they are safer to use at long range like from orbit as the reaction is less likely to be close to the shooter.

    • CptEnder@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Yeah I always just figured the nuclear reaction would happen on the “outside” of the shield sending it in a less directional method. The shield would still fail but kinda ricochet it?

  • Scratch@sh.itjust.works
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    3 months ago

    My understanding is that such a technique is known, but the first person to do it is going to get dog piled by the other houses. MAD

    • AA5B@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Given the basic premise from the very beginning, where the emperor wants to destroy house atreides, I doubt it. If the houses were going to honor their promises, they already should have

      • Ptsf@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        There is a big difference between invading a foreign nation (Ukraine?) against established treaties and nuking a foreign nation. Mutually assured destruction is avoided by even those on the losing side until they’re well aware they’ve lost and have been given a reason not to surrender.

        • theareciboincident@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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          3 months ago

          Even IRL multiple different leaders have ordered MAD in multiple different circumstances, only stopped by some peon committing treason by disobeying launch orders.

          You are giving conservatives far too much credit to their intelligence.

          Iraq was invaded specifically because they had no WMDs. Any sane ruler would launch when faced with death. Real interesting how the rogue nations with proven nuclear weapons capability are the only ones still standing…

          • Ptsf@lemmy.world
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            3 months ago

            I’m not sure I’m giving them far too much credit when you’ve sort of already proven my point by bringing up the multiple times it has been ordered and yet still avoided. I’m sure the situation would have changed if the person’s responsible for launch believed themselves and their families to be dead already, but a chance at anything else is better than nuclear MAD. There’s a hell of a lot of reason not to press that button.

  • Hurculina Drubman@lemm.ee
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    3 months ago

    I actually just came across the line that explained this in the first book. apparently, after the fact, there’s no way to tell the difference between this and the use of an atomic, so using this strategy could get your family accused of illegally using atomics against another house.

  • Voroxpete@sh.itjust.works
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    3 months ago

    I’m pretty sure the answer is that building a lasgun and a shield is more expensive than building a nuke.

    Like, the reason they don’t use nukes in Dune isn’t because they don’t know how to make them, it’s because if you ever use them you’ll immediately unite the entire Landsraad against you. They have very strict rules against it. And creating a pseudo-nuke as you described still falls under the convention. So, sure, you can do it, but it’s wasteful and pointless. Only reason to do it is if a lasgun and a shield is all you’ve got handy, and you’re willing to become public enemy number one for the galaxy.

    • sudo42@lemmy.worldOP
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      3 months ago

      I’m pretty sure the answer is that building a lasgun and a shield is more expensive than building a nuke.

      I proposed to drop a (inexpensive) laser gun on the enemy’s (existing city/fortress) shield. Simple, cheap and (overly) effective.

      • Voroxpete@sh.itjust.works
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        3 months ago

        I’m not entirely sure how you would rig the lasgun to fire in a way that hits the shield, while it’s falling from the sky. And I believe it’s random whether or not the shield blows up, so you’d need to drop several for safety.

        But at the end of the day, deliberately engineering explosions using shield-laser interactions still contravenes the convention against atomics. The great houses all have plenty of nukes, they really don’t need bootstrap solutions. The problem is political, not technical.

  • edric@lemm.ee
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    3 months ago

    It’s sort of like the nuclear weapons situation in our world. Everyone who has the weapon know they can use it, but they won’t, unless there’s somone crazy enough cough Muadib cough to do it, because it all but assures complete destruction of your house by the rest of the great houses. It’s an unspoken rule.

    • Richard@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      That’s not their question though. Their question is about why build nukes when you can achieve the same effect with a shield and a lasgun.

      • Davidchan@lemmynsfw.com
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        3 months ago

        They did answer the question. Anyone who tries it without some SERIOUS protection would be utterly annihilated once word got around they intentionally induced nuclear detonations. Using nukes of any kind is a major taboo in universe, everyone is able to do it but when you break the taboo nothing is stopping your enemy from repaying in kind.

    • ours@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Fremen setup some shields in the desert to punish the Harkonen for randomly firing lasers at the sand trying to smoke them out. Or something like that.

  • deadbeef79000@lemmy.nz
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    3 months ago

    The Landsraad has a sort of Mutually Assured Destruction pact. Any house that uses atomic weapons against another house would be immediately destroyed by all other houses. Paul uses atomics to breach the Shield Wall technically against a feature of the planet, not house Harkonnen, so there’s still political subtlety there.

    Lasgun-shield interaction is indistinguishable from atomic weapons.

    So deployment of this kind of weapon will ensure your own annihilation.

    From memory, the lasgun-shield explosion is unpredictable and proportional to the size of the shield. So, a personal shield could produce a relatively small explosion, a house shield would produce a cataclysmic explosion.

    • FeelzGoodMan420@eviltoast.org
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      3 months ago

      Also sometimes the explosion would be on the side of the laser, not the shield. So you could shoot one down from space and end up blowing your ship up and not having anything bad happen to the shield side on the planet

        • FeelzGoodMan420@eviltoast.org
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          3 months ago

          Yea I think so. Basically it’s just unreliable af. Now that I think of it, it seems that Dune 2 got rid of the part where they do that. I seem to recall Duncan or someone in the first book purposely doing this?

    • AEsheron@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Yes, the energy of the explosion is a function of the total energy between the output of the laser and the shield, specifically the shield energy being pointed at the laser origin. That’s why they randomly hid some maximum powered, monodirectional shields facing up when they fled the attack. So that even the relatively weak personal shields would still have a large impact. In general use, the shield energy is being projected in all directions, so the amount facing the laser origin is very small. IIRC, an average powered lasgun hitting a personal shield creates an explosion that can range between roughly an HE hand grenade and an HE naval shell. They only went up like nukes because the Harkonen were using the lasguns at max energy, and the shields were tweaked abnormally. And as another comment says, the actual point of the explosion is at a random point along the beam.

  • kakes@sh.itjust.works
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    3 months ago

    Also, afaik, the reaction isn’t consistent or predictable - its more of a risk thing, which doesn’t make for a great weapon.

  • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    Well in addition to the other answers, out of universe, the answer is power of plot. Simply nuking the shit out of everything wouldn’t really make for an interesting story.

    • Cagi
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      3 months ago

      Right? Magic is real in Dune, we don’t don’t need a hard sci fi reason for every missing technology frank Herbert didn’t think of in 1965.

      • FuglyDuck@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        For the fun of hard sci fi is theorizing the stupidly powerful shit. Playing with the in universe science.

        In any case they wouldn’t even need to have parachutes, just fire the laser a moment before impact or build some kind of drone that had multiple lasers that fired simultaneously…. Big, big booms.

        • Cagi
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          21 days ago

          I am talking about OP’s idea of using lasers instead Nukes, nukes are fine, they fit the theme of 50s/60s geopolitical allegories rather perfectly. Using hard sci fi logic on a space opera sounds like an exercise in insanity, but OP is free to drive themself mad however they like. It’s Lemmy, we’re all mad in one way or another.

            • Cagi
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              3 months ago

              Very yes. Interstellar adventures starring a young man who leaves his ordinary life to pursue his magical destiny to bring down the empire- it’s not all that different from star wars either.

    • Shurimal@kbin.social
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      3 months ago

      Simply nuking the shit out of everything wouldn’t really make for an interesting story.

      It did for the Killing Star. Not nukes, but R-bombs which are probably the most insane WMD-s and unlike strangelet bombs actually feasible even at our current tech level. All you need is a light-sail and a big-ass solar-powered laser.

      But, yeah, for dune:

      1. Drop an active shield generator on your enemy position
      2. Shoot it with a laser
      3. Hilarity ensues
  • Nighed@sffa.community
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    3 months ago

    Also remember - no computers and that all space access is through the spacing guild or whatever it’s called.

    So control/timing is difficult and you would have to persuade (bribe) the spacing guild to support you. (Or have someone suicidal enough to do it manually. Could be set up manually with a timer I guess?

    • peopleproblems@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Shields and lasguns were available to a significant number of fighters. If you were able to accurately hit a shield with a lasgun, you were probably within the blast radius too.

  • altasshet
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    3 months ago

    Miles Tek does that in the later books, IIRC. strap a lasgun to a shield generator, instant pseudo nuclear bomb.

    Edit: I guess the difference is that they are dropping the whole package, not just the lasgun.

  • Cagi
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    3 months ago

    deleted by creator

    • Richard@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      Okay but that’s obviously not the direction OP is intending to go. Nobody is forcing you to leave your opinion here. If you don’t find it to be fun to think about in-universe sci-fi explanations, then just leave us alone and don’t be such a toxic meanie.

      • Cagi
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        3 months ago

        Yeah, I didn’t mean to come off ad rude as I did, more playfully snide than actually snobby, so I deleted my comment.

        I respect OP’s position without practicing it myself. It’s not that I don’t condone it, I just have a fundamentally different approach to this story and shared it. Badly. Lemmy is crap about actually getting rid of deleted content though.