Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization

First Edition

© 1975-1979, 2008 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA, 1979; http://www.xenology.info/Xeno.htm


18.8  The Ultimate Weapon

In 1952, the late John W. Campbell, Jr., wrote an editorial in Astounding Science Fiction entitled "The Ultimate Weapon."193 The discussion below draws heavily from his work, as his analysis has retained its luster even after twenty-five long years of human progress on this planet.

What, it might be asked, would be the characteristics of the Ultimate Weapon -- an irresistible force for which no defense exists? Campbell isolated the requirements that specify this device:

1. It must absolutely wipe out all opposition.

2. It should be of such nature that no resistance to it is possible.

3. It must be such that the opposition cannot turn it against the original wielder.

4. It must annihilate all opposition, yet must not harm friends.

5. It should not damage any useful or constructive forces.

6. It should be of a catalytic nature, self-propagating, such that, once loosed, even the destruction of the original source cannot defeat it.

7. It will render all present weapons inoperative.

8. Its power should be such that no power in the Universe can stand against it.

9. Its effect should not depend on surprise, so that even pre-erected defenses cannot defeat it.

10. It should cost very little to use.

11. The field where it has once been used should be permanently uninhabitable by the opposition, but freely accessible to friends.

What weapon imaginable could accomplish so much, so perfectly? As Campbell notes, the Ultimate Weapon must wipe out all opposition, but this does not necessarily imply that men must die. And since any physical weapon can be countered by physical forces, the Ultimate Weapon must be nonphysical. The wielder must desire to wipe out opposition, not fellow sentients.

Opposition may be wiped out by inducing friendship. Friendship cannot harm friends or be turned against the original wielder. It is inexpensive and doesn‘t depend on surprise. And, in the long run, resistance to it is impossible.

Campbell concludes: "It seems to me that in that least developed of all fields of human understanding, the human mind itself, must lie the Ultimate Weapon. But there’s one comfort; whoever develops it will be our friend."


Last updated on 6 December 2008