# What should I look into for this project?

1. Apr 22, 2017

### JeffCyr

Hello and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I am working on a novel in which a large array of characters will undergo massive transformations, however I'm not satisfied with letting it be simply "Magic" I want the characters to absorb matter or energy from their environments to be able to do so and to have the appropriate amount of damage be afflicted to the surroundings. This is beyond what I really need to do but I'd love to do it as accurately as possible.

My question ultimately is: What fields do I need to look into in order to know how to calculate this?

#1: Grabbing the materials raw from their surroundings as whatever it is and using it as makeshift organic matter (For example use concrete to try and simulate the growth of an arm)
#2: Converting the matter around them into energy and converting it back into whatever it needs.

The second way would be ideal in my opinion though I have a feeling I'm misunderstanding the concept that mass and energy are interchangeable. Either way I'm not asking for you to give me all the resources (though that'd be great!) but rather to guide my studies towards what specific fields I'll need or what specific knowledges I'll need beyond the mass per volume of the common materials in urban construction (the term of which escapes me since my education was in French)

As this may help: While I'm eager to learn I'm a highschool drop out so I'm afraid I'm that far behind with random knowledge scattered all over.

Thanks to anyone willing to give me a hand with this project and guide my research!

Have a good day!

2. Apr 22, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
For conversions of one type of matter to another, you just need the density of whatever you're grabbing the matter from. If you need 10 kg of mass to reform your arm, and the nearest material has a density of 5 kg/m3, then you'd need to use 2 cubic meters of the material to replace an arm. The fact that energy and mass are interchangeable (and conserved) means that you don't need to actually calculate the energy and do all sorts of conversions if you know how much mass you need replace. One kg of matter is one kg of matter, regardless of the form it takes.

3. Apr 22, 2017

### JeffCyr

Wow! That's incredibly simple, so I'd just need then to look into the general or average density of the human body (or various tissues like muscles, organs, bones, blood etc) and could go from there. Thank you very much, it seems I still haven't gotten over my bad habit of assuming everything's more complicated than it really is!

4. Apr 23, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
Pretty much.

Well, usually things are.

5. Apr 23, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

There is no known realistic way to convert everything into everything else, but if you ignore that part, it is just a matter of mass.

For all practical purposes, the density of a human is about the density of water, 1000 kg/m3.

6. May 19, 2017

### JeffCyr

Oops, I would have replied sooner but I think I missed the notification email among newsletters.
I effectively rely on magic to do the conversion, I'm just trying to make it seem a bit more realistic with the idea of "Magic is only science we can't fathom yet" for example the model I use is the energy required is converted through unspecified means from other-dimensional (Not even sure if that's the right term to use for another universe/phase/dimension, those generic terms often use in scifi to represent a world existing at the same place at the same time but unreachable by us) and converted into whatever movement/action we desire here.

7. May 19, 2017

### Noisy Rhysling

Keep in mind that Clarke wasn't saying magic existed, just than a uninformed observer wouldn't be able to determine which was which.

8. May 19, 2017

### JeffCyr

oh yeah I know, just mentioned how I ignore the whole "realistic" thing

9. May 19, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
For a second I thought that said a uniformed observer...

10. May 25, 2017

### AidenFlamel

If you want some personal experience that might be useful for the kind of power you are describing, look into alchemy. There is a good way to archieve the second way following the concepts that you already commented.
You basically need to give your characters acces to an unlimited amount of energy (taking it from another dimension seems just fine). Then, using it to reorder the protons, electrons and neutrons in the atoms of whatever you are "transmuting" by making it all a plasma and then fusioning them by... I don't know, thinking really hard maybe? then you would have different matter from air, metal, even concrete just like in Fullmetal Alchemist (an anime which uses this kind of power but instead of transmuting one element to another, they just reshape matter, like earth bending from avatar)
And I think it's quite more complicated depending on what kind of transformation that matter is going to take. If you are just changing shapes, then yes, it's that simple. but if you are making something into another element, then you should check the amount of protons and neutrons you have to work with in pure transformations (you could just go over molecules to avoid trouble). You should also expect lots of energy leaving in the form of light, heat, remainder's of exceding matter, or whatever fits better your setting.
Hope some of this probes useful to you and that there is some logic in what I've just written.

11. May 25, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
No, it really is as simple as I stated. Assuming a 100% efficient conversion process, then 5 kg of matter equals 5 kg of matter, regardless of its composition. 5 kg of oxygen converts to exactly 5 kg of lead. If your conversion process isn't 100% efficient, for example if it emits a lot of light or other radiation, then 5 kg of oxygen converts to a little less than 5 kg of lead.

You could place other constraints on the process, such as requiring the conservation of nucleons, but these are also optional.

That's certainly an option, but the OP doesn't need to do this.

12. May 25, 2017

### rootone

One thing that might be worth looking in to, is why average stars can fuse hydrogen up to the result of Carbon, Nitrogen Oxygen.
The biggest stars can go further and make things like Silicon, but only a few stars are massive enough to go to iron/nickel from fusion.
Those stars that do have a good chance of total collapse resulting in a supernova explosion, and some amount of heavier than iron elements.

13. May 26, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
Can you elaborate a bit? What relationship does a star's fusion process have to the OP's question?

14. May 26, 2017

### rootone

I took it to be a general question about what we know concerning converting matter in to different forms.
The OP wanted something realistic for a story, and my reply was to indicate that stellar nuclear processes naturally result in transformation of elements.
If a hypothetical very advanced civilization could manipulate or even create stars, they could transform elements into others as required.
We can do that with existing nuclear reactors, but only tiny amounts of matter are involved.

15. May 26, 2017

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
Ah, okay. Sounds good.