In The Dark Forest (second part of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series), the Trisolaran 'droplet' probe was briefly examined by humans before it began its systematic and devastating attack on their fleet.

What was the reason this examination was allowed? By using the sophons the Trisolarans would have known about the presence of the human fleet in advance and also would have been able to control the droplet from afar without a delay in communications.

So it seemed that they intentionally paused the droplet. But for what reason?

1 Answer 1


My impression is that the Trisolarans allowed the droplet to be inspected specifically to taunt humanity. When Ding Yi and the fleet representatives discover the incredible material properties of the droplet, they realize that it could only be made with advances in fundamental physics, which (given the sophon lock) humanity cannot possibly match:

"What force would allow that?"

"There's only one option: strong interaction." ...

The droplet wasn't fragile like a tear. Entirely the opposite: Its strength was a hundred times greater than the sturdiest material in the solar system. All known substances were as fragile as paper by comparison. It could pass through the Earth like a bullet through cheese, without even the slightest harm to its surface.

"Then... what's it here for?" the lieutenant colonel blurted out.

"Who knows? Maybe it is really just a messenger. But it's here to give humanity a different message," Ding Yi said, turning his gaze away from the droplet.


"If I destroy you, what business is it of yours?"

[bolding mine]

In other words: Despite humanity's technological advances following the Great Ravine, the weapons technology of the Trisolarans could draw on advances in fundamental physics that humanity could not obtain, and so humanity's fleet could not hope to beat the Trisolaran fleet in a space battle. The Trisolarans wanted humanity to know this. The reason why they sent this message is unclear, but it's possible that it was simply to foment chaos on Earth (which it did remarkably well.)

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    "it's possible that it was simply to foment chaos on Earth (which it did remarkably well.)" - for what it's worth, I'd say the ensuing chaos was rather a reaction to the unexpected loss of almost the entire fleet to a single unmanned probe (that is, I imagine the chaos would have been the same had the probe begun its rampage right away). IMO, the initial examination round/power display seemed more like it was directed at those who would remain cool-headed enough amidst the chaos to start thinking about countermeasures, to give them a feeling of hopelessness. Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 11:59
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    Part of the reason for demonstrating their overwhelming superiority in this way may have been for the Trisolarans themselves to witness. In the first book, the sympathetic individual who warned humanity not to send radio messages, was meant to be punished by seeing humans despair. We also know that there are other Trisolarans with similar sentiments, and there is concern that these sentiments might become widespread.
    – Batperson
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 18:44

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