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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Metal Solvent Ray Thrower  
  Acts like a flame thrower in space.  

He has an unexpected use for this device.

Here was something: A metal solvent ray thrower, big and powerful enough for his purposes. It was as large as a small cannon, but easy to handle without the gravity pull that the ship once had...

Away he soared into the starry blackness, floating outward like a kite. He traveled for many yards, until he came to the end of the cable with ever so gentle a jerk... He pointed the ray thrower in the direction that the wreck was traveling in and touched the trigger switch.

Fire gushed into the dark, fire full of destructive power - and motive power. Like a rocket, the thrower recoiled and hurled backward.

From Lost Rocket, by Manly Wade Wellman.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

Compare to the reaction pistol from Gordon A. Giles Diamond Planetoid (1937).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Lost Rocket
  More Ideas and Technology by Manly Wade Wellman
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