Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Rare mineral to power dark energizers in a sci-fi story

  1. Jan 27, 2017 #1
    Hi. I'm looking for a substance that could be used to draw dark energy from space and power very large spaceships. Ideally, it would be something real but rare on Earth. I was using a made-up mineral called sparkle, but I found that using something made up didn't feel right, otherwise why hasn't it been found on Earth yet? I'm also considering tritium, but I read that its natural state is a gas with a very short half-life. Star Wars uses plasma, so I'm trying to avoid that. Star Trek uses anti-matter, so I'm also avoiding that. Should I use a rare gem to draw/focus dark energy?

    Thanks
    Dirk
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2017 #2

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Since this is very far outside the realm of possibility, you can use pretty much anything you want. Dark energy is so weak on anything approaching "local" distances that it might as well not exist so anything you use is going to be completely unrealistic in terms of actual physics.
     
  4. Jan 27, 2017 #3

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Well: There is no such thing. You cannot use a material to "draw dark energy from space".

    If you just look for some fancy and exotic material: What about metallic hydrogen? We can create it in the lab now.
     
  5. Jan 27, 2017 #4
    That doesn't really have a "ring" to it.

    What about Erbium or Samarium?
     
  6. Jan 27, 2017 #5

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    They are common, and they sound boring to me because I know that they are used in industrial applications.
     
  7. Jan 27, 2017 #6
    How can they be classified as "Rare Earth Metals" if they are common :oldconfused:

    What about Iridium? Nice name I think.
     
  8. Jan 27, 2017 #7

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    The name is misleading, they are not that rare. They are just harder to separate from each other because their chemical properties are quite similar.
     
  9. Jan 27, 2017 #8

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Yeah, @Greg Bernhardt, I was confused by the name too, before reading about them and discovering what mfb posted here. It DOES seem odd that they are called "rare" earths but aren't rare. :smile:
     
  10. Jan 27, 2017 #9

    TeethWhitener

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_earth_element
    I couldn't resist:
    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2012-06-17
    :biggrin:
     
  11. Jan 27, 2017 #10

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

  12. Jan 27, 2017 #11
    What about unhexquadium? It's only theoretical so nobody knows it's real properties, and it's pretty far beyond human's capabilities for the next several decades at least.
     
  13. Jan 27, 2017 #12
    It sounds like what you're looking for is a real material, that you can attach some technobabble to. I would humbly suggest the element Technetium. It has the following qualities that make it good for science fiction:

    1 - It's a naturally occurring element - it's a metal that can be part of a number of different molecules.
    2 - it is unique in that it is the lightest element that has nothing but radioactive isotopes - where present in the universe, it decays away. It's longest half-life is 4.2 million years. It's found on rocky bodies only where uranium or molybdenum are present, and then in very tiny amounts.
    3 - Because it is not common on Earth, if it has any spooky and fictional properties that would make it good for your story, we might not have found out about them yet, just by sheer luck of not having ever subjected the material to that kind of testing.
    4 - It's been found in space - large stars produce it; it's in supernova remnants. You could argue that the industry of mining the stuff and interstellar exploration, went hand in hand.
     
  14. Jan 27, 2017 #13

    BillTre

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I like the idea of iridium just because it is the geological marker for the dinosaur killing impactor, low these many 65 million (or so) years ago.
     
  15. Mar 29, 2017 #14
    Some times even now new alloys are found with interesting properties
    Just think about what weird things plane old iron can do
     
  16. Mar 30, 2017 #15

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    How about Promethium? It's very rare, as all of its isotopes are unstable, but it exists on Earth as a natural product of the decay of Uranium and Europium. It can even be synthesized by bombarding Uranium with neutrons. So you'd have to acquire this rare, radioactive material from another radioactive material and the only way to get more than trace amounts is to use neutrons from yet more radioactive material!
     
  17. Mar 30, 2017 #16
    Unobtainium.
     
  18. Mar 30, 2017 #17

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Kryptonite. Dilithium. Cavorite. Mithril. Ice-nine. Scrith. Upsadasium.

    From a pure storytelling point of view, I see no advantage to using a real material and giving it properties it is not known to have and using a fictional material. I think the former is even more distracting.
     
  19. Mar 30, 2017 #18
    Yep. Nobody can refute claims ascribed to handwavium. And there might be a rock out there in the Oort Cloud that is made of pure unobtainium. It could be headed this way right now.
     
  20. Mar 30, 2017 #19
    Hmm. I haven't been getting email updates to everyone's posts, so my apologies for not responding sooner. I'll look into some of the elements suggested here. Unobtanium is a favorite of mine. :-)
     
  21. Mar 30, 2017 #20
    It's one of those where you can mention people who have speculated on it as if they had been able to follow through.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: Rare mineral to power dark energizers in a sci-fi story
Loading...