A man wonders why perforations don't work. He decides nothing is the strongest thing in the universe. He exploits his finding.

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    Can you provide any more detail than that? This is quite vague and will probably be difficult to answer. The tag wiki has some suggestions for details that might be useful.
    – alexwlchan
    Jul 14, 2015 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


This is likely "It Was Nothing — Really!" (Google Books shows the beginning), by Ted Sturgeon. It involves a Mr. Mellow who discovers that paper is most likely to rip anywhere but the perforations. The early pages have generals testing it with toilet paper under various conditions. I have not found a full copy of the story, but from reading various summaries, it seems that the government attempts to eliminate him to prevent the technology spreading, but he leaked the memo before submitting it to the government, and also built himself a shield out of Nothing.

... if, in these special cases, the substance becomes stronger when a small part of it is removed, it would seem logical to assume that if still more were removed, the substance would be stronger still. And carried to its logical conclusion, it would seem reasonable to hypothesize that by removing more and more material, the resulting substance would become stronger and stronger until at last we would produce a substance composed of nothing at all - which would be indestructible!


...the little weapon went off with a short, explosive hiss. The little needle it threw disintegrated in midair. "There's a sheet of just plain Nothing between us and it's impenetrable."

Still holding his weapon, Mr. Brown rose and backed away - and brought up sharply against some Nothing behind him...

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    Wait... I thought this was going to turn into the joke about reinforcing plane wings with toilet paper with the perforation where the wing joins the plane body...
    – user11521
    Jul 14, 2015 at 15:21
  • This short story can be found in the book: Sturgeon Is Alive And Well . . . Pocket Books ISBN 10 067181415X ISBN 13 9780670000000 Jan 17, 2020 at 20:16

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