Nanoswarm stats and q's

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Hailspork Hailspork's picture
Nanoswarm stats and q's

Ok, I know the basics from page 329; 50 hp, 1 or 1d10 damage taken, depending on weapon, etc.

I had a few questions regarding swarms in combat, mostly guardian and disassembler swarms:
1) How fast do they move?
2) How visible are they? Without a nanodetector, can I look at all the tons of nanites and see a faint fog, or is it clear air until my armor starts dissolving for no apparent reason?
3) Is there a limit to the number of swarms that can overlap? Is it one of those things where they can share the same place, but you're either being dissolved by nanites or not?
4) How do they fly in space?
5) Do I need any special elements to feed my hives? Any guesses on capacity of hives or recharge rates?

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

1. ?
2. Invisible.
3. No.
4. Magic. (Hehe. Actually, they don't necessarily fly in space, but they probably have handwavium Thrust Vector, hmf.) By RAW, they can have any Mobility System except Ionic.
5. Not unless the GM says so. Capacity is 1 (in a manner of speaking—technically, they only maintain/create swarms), but you can probably 'store' extra swarms wherever. 'Recharge' is probably 1 hour, like the Buzzer.

LostProxy LostProxy's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

^ He's got it but I thought I should add there is also nanoscopic vision which is powerful enough to see individual bots. I don't think any of my characters doesn't have a drone with that modification to keep an eye out and a weapon to EMP them for me.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

That's true, but the nano-vision is really not a vision type. It's equivalent to having a powerful microscope attached to your face: your field of vision is tiny, and it only works if you barely move at all (ideally, not at all). It is definitely not for 'keeping watch' for nanoswarms.

Tallai Tallai's picture
However, I've heard a couple

However, I've heard a couple GMs hand-wave that minor aspect of Nanoscopic vision.

1) GM handwave that one. They move fast enough to be a threat.

2) From what I understand a regular nanoswarm's close to invisible. The scary bastard TITAN ones, well, they're the clouds moving really fast against the wind and eating everything in their path so they're a little easier to spot.

4) As for flight in space, unless my players splurge on some proper manoeuvring ability they don't. Microlight and Hopper won't get you very far in space. Or very far. Too far. Forever into the abyss, the nanoswarm drifts, never once doubting the importance of its mission.

5) Well the lucky thing about nanobots is that they're really really small. They're cheap and can probably get away with minimal resource usage (think Material Pouch for wizards). As for capacity, once again GM hand-wave. Hives can run non-stop with enough resources to produce.



LostProxy LostProxy's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Yerameyahu wrote:
That's true, but the nano-vision is really not a vision type. It's equivalent to having a powerful microscope attached to your face: your field of vision is tiny, and it only works if you barely move at all (ideally, not at all). It is definitely not for 'keeping watch' for nanoswarms.

Which is why I said you have it done to a drone(s ) to keep an eye out with emp weapons to take them out. They don't need to look everywhere. Just in your general area.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

I guess I don't understand why it matters who's looking. A drone (several drones, even) with nanovision can 'keep an eye at' at… several tiny, tiny squares of area. Again, imagine using a microscope: it only works if it's focused on the right distance, the right *place*, and held still.

There's a reason the nanodetector sensors work by constantly sampling (relatively huge) chunks of air, and there's a reason the main defense again a swarm is another swarm.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Hailspork wrote:
1) How fast do they move?

Nano-objects will tend to move with velocities similar to the velocity of their surrounding medium. On this scale air is like molasses, it is very tough for a self-propelled nanomachine to move many body lengths per second. So that suggests that they would at most move a few meters per second, like a mild wind.

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2) How visible are they? Without a nanodetector, can I look at all the tons of nanites and see a faint fog, or is it clear air until my armor starts dissolving for no apparent reason?

Likely depends on the size and density. Obviously, if you have a ton of nanites in the air of a room it will look like it is full of smoke. Nanites larger than 0.5 micron will start to diffract light (at this size they mainly scatter blue light, think cigarette smoke) and above 0.75 micron they will scatter red too - this scattering might produce a colored mist effect. Larger nanites will start to produce a cloud effect (since scattering increases with the sixth power of the particle size, and you get multiple reflections) when their density gets big enough.

Loose calculation: suppose we have N nanites per cubic meter. They have radius r. The total cross sectional area is pi N r^2. When this is about 1 m^2, the nanites start becoming opaque. Now, assume a 2 micron nanite (r=10^-6 m). You need 3*10^11 nanites. If they have diamond density that is about 4.6 grams. Larger nanomachines can have heavier yet invisible swarms.

Note that for disassemblers you probably need a few grams or more, since the nanites need to carry with them energy to do what is essentially chemical reactions - their total weight will need to correspond to some fraction of the material they are attacking. Guardians can be much lighter since they might just sabotage nanites, but if they are to act like disassemblers for enemy nanites the same rule of thumb is needed.

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3) Is there a limit to the number of swarms that can overlap? Is it one of those things where they can share the same place, but you're either being dissolved by nanites or not?

If there are just a few grams per cubic meter, then it is not worse than dust-laden air. But I wouldn't recommend breathing them in.

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4) How do they fly in space?

I can imagine constructing micro-propulsion units out of pressurized spheres like respirocytes, but generally they will be lousy in space. Besides, the radiation environment will tend to kill them off in the inner system.

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5) Do I need any special elements to feed my hives? Any guesses on capacity of hives or recharge rates?

Probably. Partially for control, partially because they have the right properties. This paper sketches how to make diamondoid nanosystems using carbon, hydrogen and germanium. Germanium is needed because it has the right strength of bonds. For nanites that handle more complex chemistry there will likely be many more kinds of atoms needed. So you can handwave that the hive is getting a "out of thulium error" at any point you want.

Extropian

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Space nanite propulsion: imagine a respirocyte 1 micron across.
http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Respirocytes2.html#Sec3
It can hold 8x10^-17 kg of oxygen and has a empty weight of 3.56*10^-16 kg. Assuming it squirts them out with a Maxwell distribution of velocities the average velocity at 300 K is 444 m/s. Using the rocket equation I get a total delta-v of 135 m/s. Not too impressive.

No doubt faster space-nanites can be constructed, but to move really fast they need to have fast moving propellant, and that is hard to do on the nanoscale: when the propellant kinetic energy per molecule becomes comparable to the bond energy of your device it will start to falling apart. Cooling is tricky when you are very small and in vacuum (small area and your surfaces will be smaller than many infra-red wavelengths), nuclear reactions really don't scale well.

Extropian

Hailspork Hailspork's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Thanks, that's very helpful.

BOMherren BOMherren's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Topic has been very well covered already. However...

Hailspork wrote:

4) How do they fly in space?

You're probably better off not finding out. Nanobots designed for atmospheric propulsion are useless in space and vice versa, and hybrid variants will just end up being useless in both environments. Even if you manage to get a specialized, spacefaring cloud onto a target, then any defensive nanobots carried by the target are going to be densely packed around and inside of it, whereas your own will presumably be scattered as a vast cloud.

For game purposes, you might as well assume that spaced nanobot swarms whirr and flail uselessly until they are fried by direct sunlight or run out of battery power. If you really want to sic nanobots onto something in space, then you should pack a hive or two inside of an armor-piercing rocket or projectile, and fire that at the target.



root root's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

root@Nanoswarm


Arenamontanus wrote:
Space nanite propulsion: imagine a respirocyte 1 micron across.
http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Respirocytes2.html#Sec3
It can hold 8x10^-17 kg of oxygen and has a empty weight of 3.56*10^-16 kg. Assuming it squirts them out with a Maxwell distribution of velocities the average velocity at 300 K is 444 m/s. Using the rocket equation I get a total delta-v of 135 m/s. Not too impressive.

*blinks* Erm. Alright, I've always imagine nanites as being like a storm of glitter; you have a heterogeneous mixture of nanites of different sizes doing different chores, but I know I'm picturing them like little cartoon robots that go on ninja-pirate raids against cells, and I have a vague suspicion that the lulz-boat is perhaps the incorrect metaphor. Could we get a primer from anyone with more correct knowledge than that, but at an abstraction level where my brain can convert it into Saturday morning cartoons so I understand it?

[ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Eclipse Phase uses the term nanobot to refer to lots of little things, some of which are pretty un-robotlike.

The respirocyte is a spherical globe of diamond with a bunch of sensors and molecule pumps on the surface. All it does is to float along the bloodstream pumping in and out carbon dioxide and oxygen (as well as glucose for fuel). The program it runs is not far from a thermostat - release oxygen if levels around it are lower than a certain level, absorb CO2 if levels are high, and so on. At one micron, it is like a small bacterium.

Many nanoparticles could have even simpler functions. They are just clusters of atoms with a surface with the right recognition molecules to make them bind to places where they should be. Some other surface molecules might react to a particular stimuli (such as the presence of a particular chemical or microwaves) and cause it to release chemicals inside, change its binding mode etc. No intelligence whatsoever, but can be made smaller than a nanometer.

Robert Freitas has proposed 3.4 micron diameter microbivores to chomp up pathogens. It attaches to pathogens and then ingests them, mincing them and finally breaking them down with engineered enzymes. The device is controlled by a 10 0.01 cubic micron nanocomputers with 5 megabits of memory each: it is not that smart, but all it needs to do is recognize the target pathogens. It has acoustic sensors that receive ultrasound commands, allowing external reprogramming if needed. Devices like these are presumably a component of a medichine or nanophage systems. I would imagine Guardians to be something fairly similar, but with even tougher disassembly systems.

Nanoswarm robots are likely slightly larger, equipped with local communications systems, mobility systems that allow them to function in air, and so on. I think it is a good point that a swarm can have several components: a gardener swarm needs microbots to move seeds and harvest stuff, while nanobots kill plant pathogens. A protean swarm functions more efficiently if it can divide the production process into different scales (small bots make simple components, larger take them and assemble them into bigger stuff, and so on, while other bots scavenge and break down raw materials to feed the group).

A key limitation is energy: bots living inside the body can use blood glucose (it they do not take too much), but free-living bots need to acquire energy from burning carried fuel, collecting light, ultrasound or some other radiant energy, or getting fuel from the environment. This puts some limits on how much they can do.

If you want ideas for what a mature nanotech can do, check out Freitas' Nanomedicine I: http://www.nanomedicine.com/NMI.htm
(scroll down for links to the full text) He has been doing the math for everything from energy requirements for swimming nanomachines to check whether nanobots can measure magnetic fields due to neuron firing.

Extropian

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

An an interesting note, some nanoswarms can be hacked. Many are open to outside programming via wireless, ultrasound or other methods, and they may alter their behaviors based on temperature, atmosphere and so on. However, I would ask for some Hardware skill, not infosec for this, since they're unlikely to use a standard operating system.

Also, nanoswarms are vulnerable to air speed. If you have a giant fan, you can add a penalty to their movement, even shifting it to the negative, while characters in normal morphs would not suffer any significant penalty.

w3azel w3azel's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

Hi,

I just came here looking for an answer on swams speed.

The only clue I've been able to find in the core book is this, related to smart dust:
(p.316)

"Each nanobot contains tiny cameras, microphones, a tiny
computer, a radio, and chemical sensors, as well as
short legs that allow them to walk and climb at a rate
of 5 cm per second."

Note that this reffers to "walking" nanobots. I think the best idea I've read here is that "moving with the air" proposition. Seems logical to me.

I hope this helps.

___

A man without a god is like a fish without a bicycle.

King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

I think it depends on type (and size) of nanomachine, and what's defined as its movement.

In my opinion The "misslabeled" nanomachines ("centimetermeter size" or insect size)could move just as fast as "regular" insects airborn & otherwise. Aside from cheating (following the flow, or getting a lift).

Other smaller sized swarms Swarms could still cooperate and utilize air movement. Less advanced could act as feathers & still precision glide. More advanced swarms could tinker with the environment and create / cause "artificial" vortexes, stable enough to gain movement. "Dust devils" perhaps even.



"To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult."
Plutarch

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Nanoswarm stats and q's

It is always worth checking out Robert Freitas' Nanomedicine for this kind of thing (or just general ideas for tricks you can get EP nanomachines to do). Here is some ideas from the section on nanoflight.

Devices smaller than 0.1 mm will likely not be winged, but will make use of viscous forces. Due to considerations of Reynolds numbers, this means that a nanodevice of size L microns will have a max speed of 15/L meters per second. That would give a 1 micron robot an air speed of 15 m/s, which is faster than mild winds but slower than a fully sprinting human.

A nanorobot has a terminal speed downwards under gravity of 0.12 mm/s if it is 1 micron sized, 1.2 cm/s if it is 10 microns - relatively easy to counter if it is active. A "stunned" nanoswarm will however sediment out rather slowly, especially if there is wind or convection. And some nanoswarms might be making use of "nanoballoons" of neutral buoyancy, powered by cilia or pumps.

He also notes:

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For example, consider a cloudlet consisting of 1 million nanorobots, each of size Rnano = 1 micron. With individual nanorobots traveling at vnano ~ 30 cm/sec, the cloudlet consumes ~0.4 milliwatts and operates at a power density of ~10^8 watts/m3. Now assume that the cloudlet must speed up to 10 m/sec to track a fast-moving object around which it is stationkeeping, or to compensate for a heavy wind. If the individual nanorobots comprising the cloudlet simply increase their airspeed to 10 m/sec, then power density in each nanorobot increases to ~10^11 watts/m^3 and cloudlet power consumption rises to ~400 milliwatts (a 1000-fold increase). However, if the nanorobots temporarily aggregate into a single collective approximating a single device of Rnano = 100 microns, then the power consumption of the collective can be held to the original 0.4 milliwatts and power density remains constant at ~10^8 watts/m^3. Facultative aggregation may permit stationkeeping over a wide range of velocities without significantly increasing power. (Other power-conserving behaviors, such as preferential migration into the downwind slipstream of a rapidly-moving tracked object, are not considered further here but may be useful.)

So a smart nanoswarm might gather together into a small, fast moving object rather to pursue you. Nanoflyers can have enormous accelerations (thousands of Gs), reaching march speed of 1 m/s nearly instantly. And once they link together into something else, you can imagine the cohesive swarm being at least as fast as a bird - and potentially as a seeker missile.

Extropian