3 Body Problem: Would the nano wires have destroyed the hard drive anyway?

07 May 2024
The decision to use nano wires to destroy the ship in "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin was not simply a matter of aesthetics or a superficial desire to appear cool. Instead, it was a strategic choice made by the characters in the novel based on a careful consideration of various factors and constraints they faced.

One of the primary concerns of the characters was to retrieve the valuable information from the ship's hard drives without risking their destruction. 

The information stored on the ship's hard drives is crucial scientific and technological knowledge from an advanced alien civilization, the Trisolans. This information holds the key to understanding and potentially harnessing highly advanced technologies that could significantly impact humanity's future.

Traditional methods of attack, such as bombing or torpedoing the ship, were deemed too risky as they could potentially damage or destroy the hard drives, rendering the information irretrievable. 

Similarly, nerve gas or similar chemical attacks were not considered viable options due to the difficulty of ensuring complete and immediate incapacitation of everyone on board, thus allowing for the possibility of the data being erased before it could be retrieved.

The use of a neutron bomb was also dismissed as it would not necessarily vaporize everyone on board, as often depicted in movies. 

Moreover, it was believed that boarding the ship carried too great a risk of the crew scuttling the ship and destroying the hard drives before they could be captured.

nano wired three body problem ship scene explained

The decision to use nano wires was based on several key advantages they offered. 

First, they were fast-acting and could incapacitate or kill everyone on board the ship before they even realized what was happening. 

Second, the precision of the nano wires meant that they could be used to cut the ship in a way that would minimize damage to the hard drives, making it possible to reassemble them and retrieve the data. 

Finally, the use of nano wires was seen as a way to ensure that the crew of the ship could not erase the data before it could be retrieved.

If the hard drive had been severed by the wire, the novel considers technology existed for a simple repair leading to recovery of the data. 

In "The Three-Body Problem," the use of nano wires to destroy the ship and reduce the likely hood of the destruction of the hard drives also aligns with real-world concepts in materials science and nanotechnology. Nano wires, being incredibly thin and strong, have unique properties that make them suitable for such a task. Their small size allows for precise cutting, as mentioned in the book, which could potentially minimize damage to the hard drives.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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