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Duodecaplyatomate, or duodec for short, is an explosive material used by both Civilization and Boskone in the Lensman series. Despite being a chemical compound, the explosion actually propagates at the speed of light. The most plausible explanation for this is that it actually functions like some kind of "heat bomb", in which the chemical used can be easily induced to break down, releasing large quantities of radiation at specific frequencies (such as in the infra-red bands), as elsewhere in the series it is made quite clear that the speed of light limit still holds for inert matter.

The efficiency, cost, and safety of duodec is unknown, but given how ubiquitous it is to the setting it likely performs well in terms of cost and safety at the very least. The elements used in it are similarly unknown, although most of the name does conform to rules on the naming of chemicals:

  • Duo- = Two
  • Deca- = Ten
  • Ply- = Folded or interweaved, possibly also from "poly", for "many"
  • -ate = Usually means an element to which oxygen atoms have been attached (eg NO3, Nitrate)


Duodec has been used in anti-ship dirigible (guided) torpedoes, to destroy a highly profitable underground mining operation, to level a building when used in high-explosive rounds from a helicopter gunship, and finally to all-but overcome the gravitational binding energy of the planet Helmuth's base was located on. It was first seen in First Lensman, but by Children of the Lens it had been replaced by Super Atomic Torpedoes on warships.