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I need to prove a superhero.

  1. Oct 29, 2016 #1
    Hi! For project in one of my classes, I have to research a super power and a possible scientific explanation of it, showing either why it can or can't happen. I chose a super power of translating people's electro magnetic fields into frequencies, and being able to translate that into understanding their emotions. I started researching the translation of electromagnetic waves into pressure waves in the fluid in which the ear is located. I am researching how electro magnetic radiation can be translated into frequencies for the human ear to perceive. I am reading journals on electro magnetic radiation, fourier analysis and sound waves but there is too much to go through. Can someone help? I am pretty stumped and I need to learn more about this. Does anyone know where to start or have an explanation on how electro magnetic waves can be turned into audio frequencies? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2016 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Welcome to PF;
    Is this a writing class, a science class, or something else?
    What level do you need the science at and how "hard" do you need it?

    The trick with this sort of thing is to minimize the extraneous assumptions you need to make, especially anything supernatural.
    Start by being quite blatant about what the power is in supernatural terms... then describe it phenominologically: what does it look like it does, and how does the person using the power (the super) experience it? What does it look like to other people?

    The super-power is "reading auras"... it works off the bio-electromagnetic field, so the super can sense people EM fields.

    A scientific explanation for this would answer the question "how can this person sense the field?"

    OK - so you want the person to experience the EM field of the subject as a sound... probably the most direct way to do this is to have an organ that senses the EM and stimulate the parts of the brain that deal with hearing. No need to bother with ears at all.
    This reduces the problem to just detecting the EM field to start with ... no need to worry about the extra stuff of converting it into sound waves and directing those sound waves at the ears. Now there is only one thing to explain.

    Range: bio-fields tend to be short range.
    If you are thinking that your super is in a room with someone and they can hear their emotions, that will be a problem if they are getting the sounds off the EM fields. How are they doing this from a distance?

    Maybe the super has modified nerves in their hands that detect the fields when the subject is touched and the super has learned to listen for the fluctuations that indicate different emotional states. It could work like a polygraph for detecting lies for eg. The upshot is that by touching someone, or just holding hands close by, the super can reliably guess the general emotional state and deduce other things (like lie's, who they are in love with etc) from that along with context and psychology.

    Then side effects: there are other sources of EM fields ... machinery, power lines etc. The super may be able to tell that an electronic device is badly grounded because "it sounds angry"... but mostly there will be a lot of background noise about.

    If you look into biofeedback and human skin EM you will get an idea of the sorts of fields involved - but you should focus on how to detect the field to start with: the super will learn how the experience relates to emotions over time like Daredevil learned to use his hearing for echo-location - sensing his surroundings.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  4. Jan 27, 2017 #3
    I liked Simon's response but wanted to point out exactly why you wouldn't use the ears.

    Humans can hear in a range of give or take, 20hz to 20khz. The only EM waves that fall into that spectrum are all extremely long waves - as long as ten million kilometers. The shortest ones would be about 10 kilometers long. That means that the person emitting the waves would have to be emitting a whole lot of energy to affect your ears (which means your target's superpower is being a radio beacon...) or you don't just have the ability to detect bio-electric fields, you have unbelievable super-hearing (and probably a migraine the size of the planet).

    I would suggest looking at Sharks instead. Sharks have electroreception and have electroreceptors called Ampullae of Lorenzini. They can literally sense electric fields. But, they live in salt water. Air is not nearly as good a conductor. It's possible that your super has something similar in their hands, to allow them to sense electric fields by touch?
  5. Jan 27, 2017 #4
    I'd also go with the shark-like sensor. I think if you put them in your hands, you might be able to feel what's going on inside of someone's head, as long as they are in physical contact and place their hands right (think Spock.)

    Basically, turning your hands into an organic MRI.

    I think there may be easier ways to read someone's emotions though. I'd be willing to bet that a dog can smell the emotions of their master through pheromones.
  6. Mar 13, 2017 #5
    Sorry, but as far as I know, humans don´t emit pheromones, just hormones inside us, so smelling our emotions or feelings isn´t that much of a solution to this matter. Appart from that, "chemical messengers" like hormones are more likely long therm slower responses to emotional states compared to electrical signals that travel trough our nerves, which are much more immediate than any gland could be.
  7. Mar 13, 2017 #6
    Humans produce pheromones, we even have the part of the nose that detects them, it's simply not connected to the brain: http://precedings.nature.com/documents/2561/version/1 Also, humans are not chemical-tight items. Chemicals created inside the boyd, are certainly detectable from outside depending on the circumstances. Dogs have shown to be able to be trained to detect certain types of cancer by just smell.

    That's not true, chemical signals are extremely fast. I don't know where you got the idea that our nerves are sending electrical signals, but it's not true, they're sending chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
  8. Mar 13, 2017 #7
    Sorry, you must be right, my bibliography (high school manuals) is most likely to be outdated or not technically accurate acording to your sources. I would gladly show them to you but they are in spanish, so i'll just assume i misunderstood some of the statements made there and most likely check them later to conffirm.
  9. Mar 13, 2017 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    The OP has not been back to the PD since November 2016, so they are not benefiting from the recent posts in this old thread. It's closed temporarily for Moderation...
  10. Mar 14, 2017 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    As @berkeman has said this thread has run its course and the OP has not returned since November and so its a good time to close it and thank everyone for participating.

    Future Superhero powers and comments should be placed in a new thread for discussion.

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