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"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
- Charles Stross

Invulnerable Wall  
  A material created by insects that grew stronger as it was compressed.  

You remember those big apartment mounds we ran into in that insect culture out on Suud?”

We all remembered them, of course. We’d spent days trying to break into them because we had found a handful of beautifully carved jade scattered around the entrance of one of them and we figured there might be a lot of it inside. Stuff like that brings money. Folks back in civilization are nuts about any kind of alien art and that jade sure enough was alien. We’d tried every trick that we could think of and we got nowhere. Breaking into those mounds was like punching a feather pillow. You could dent the surface plenty, but you couldn’t break it because the strength of the material built up as pressure compressed the atoms. The harder you hit, the tougher it became. It was the kind of building material that would last forever and never need repair and those insects must have known they were safe from us, for they went about their business and never noticed us. That’s what made it so infuriating.

And material like that, I realized, would be just the ticket for a structure like the silo. You could build as big or as high as you had a mind to; the more pressure you put on the lower structure, the stronger it would be.

From Jackpot, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Galaxy Science Fiction in 1956
Additional resources -

Found this item in Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets amazing locations page.

There's an amazing real-world analog to this material - coquina, which is a kind of rock formed by tiny coquina clam donax variabilis. It formed a kind of limestone.

When the Spanish built their fort at St. Augustine, Florida, they picked this material. Not knowing its strength, they built the walls twelve feet thick.

And it turns out that it is impervious to cannon balls! When the material is shot at, the stone compresses and absorbs the shock of the hit. Cannon balls just bounced off, or penetrated a few inches

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Jackpot
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Jackpot
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

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