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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Slaver Disintegrator  
  Sometimes used as a digging tool.  

Most of the tools that you buy in hardware stores are designed to not hurt anyone, rather than to be the most powerful or effective tools they could be. Not so in the world of Ringworld, were tools stay close to their roots.

The disintegrator was indeed a digging tool. Where its narrow beam fell, the charge on the electron was temporarily depressed. Solid matter, rendered suddenly and violently positive, tended to tear itself into a fog of monatomic dust.
From Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
Published by Ballantine in 1970
Additional resources -

Now that's a digging tool.

Some interesting cutting tools came out of WWII, when metal parts for airplanes and tanks were being mass-produced. Better methods for cutting metal were needed. A new method of welding was invented that used an inert gas fed through an electric arc. Charging the gas with an electric current formed a barrier around the weld. Decades later, it was found that temperatures could be raised by speeding up the gas flow and making the release hole smaller. This plasma arc created such high temperatures that it cut through metal easily.

Learn more about it at How Plasma Arc Cutters Work.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Ringworld
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
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  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

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