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Let's say I have a superpower, Marvel/DC style, where I have the ability to change the temperature of anything at will, from almost Planck temperature down to almost absolute zero. The catch is that I cannot create or remove energy - if I heat one thing up, something else must be cooled.

This ability has a distance limitation - perhaps a football pitch at maximum. Heat can be exchanged in a complex way, it's not just two fields one hot one cold, it can be complex and varied degrees of heating and cooling across an area if desired.

The amount of heat to be exchanged is also limited, for example it would be trivial to boil a mug of water but freezing five men solid would be exhausting.

This would be an ability only one person would have, though they would be amongst other people who have different powers (mind reading, darkness control, gravity control etc).

What are the coolest things I could do with this ability?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Thales Pereira, bilbo_pingouin, XandarTheZenon, The Anathema, fi12 Mar 2 at 21:38

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Clearly, the coolest thing you could do would be to drop the temperature of a thing to absolute zero. – Frostfyre Mar 2 at 15:20
I think you fail to realize that we cannot drop the temperature of an object to absolute zero. – AndreiROM Mar 2 at 15:22
A bad choice of word usage here, I meant to almost absolute zero and almost absolute hot. Edited – BenAdamson Mar 2 at 15:24
You will notice that Worldbuilding can be very picky about some details in a question. Please don't let that discourage you! Even if your question were to be closed, simply consider how to improve it and have it reopened.We really are a great community! Just a heads up though: your question basically consists of idea generation. Some people will answer it, but it's technically outside the scope of Worldbuilding, and thus might be closed. You may wish to add more constraints, such as: if I get tired after X amount of effort how can I use this offensively. – AndreiROM Mar 2 at 15:28
No need to panic. You have no close votes yet :-) Some people will answer, and if it's closed you can either rethink it or write a new question which focuses on a certain aspect of an answer you received, etc. By the way, with your powers it would be pretty easy to set people/places on fire. Or to put out fires. Just sayin' – AndreiROM Mar 2 at 15:34
up vote 4 down vote accepted

With this ability, you can:

1- kill/disable people and other living things. (pretty straight, huh?)

2- cause train wrecks and far more deaths than you could have caused directly heating/cooling the people. you only have to melt off the tracks for a length of some 20-30 meters and well ...

3- keep a parachute with you and create even more deaths when you are airborne in a commercial airliner. i hope you understand what I mean here, so not going into details here.

4- create forest fires (pretty simple again, huh?)

5- create landslides and block railway lines/roads etc. (p.s. cause more deaths by dropping heavy boulders on buses etc). basically you chill the surface in front of a boulder and heat the surface behind it and the boulder would start rolling forward. if the surface is the slope of a mountain ...

6- create impromptu hot-air-balloons and fly away from danger zones quickly. seriously, this would be a super cool thing to do. fly in style!!

7- of course permanently disabling weapons and machinery should come as a no brainer.

8- also ... setting off fire alarms in building without ever touching anything at all ...

9- while also being able to power chemical reaction which require a lot of temperature or pressure or both (remember kid, keeping the volume constant, any rise in temperature results in a proportional rise in pressure).

10- lighting up torches at night out of nothing. won't that be cool?

11- also perhaps being able to turn wood into a mixture of smaller chained hydrocarbons (aka crude oil grade stuff) ... this is somewhat complex though and would involve several catalysts too

12- not to forget, the dude/girl can go to gobi or sahara desert in blazing summers to enjoy the ... well ... nature there. also could go to ultra-chilly places in winter with his gf/her bf and be cozy warm there without a campfire.

13- make metallic things drop or break without any apparent reason ... (you have to heat them up so their volume increases and they fall out of their containers/racks).

14- break mountains! yes, it is easier than you would expect. simply chill the base of a mountain while forcing its exterior to heat up. consequences ... the exterior would expand and the interior would contract, causing the mountain to crack with a terrifying sound! (p.s. bonus points if you can score extra kills this way)

15- punch holes in things by just heating up one small point (this works much better on bad conductors of heat than good). this small point would either burn off and leave a hole or ... melt away and leave a hole.

... these are some of the endless freaking cool things you can do with this ability ...

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Another thing worth adding is this: Depending on how precise your control is, you wouldn't need to target an entire thing to destroy it. No need to freeze a person or set them ablaze if you can target their brainstem instead. No need to blow up a plane when you can just ignite the fuel or melt the control systems. – guildsbounty Mar 2 at 20:37
Of course. I had that in mind but thought it's too obvious to state :p – Youstay Igo Mar 3 at 6:13
p.s. if you are on a super-goody mood one winter day, you can go on slowly melting all ice stacked up on city streets. Or even better, you can simply melt the snow clouds before it starts snowing! Convert snow into warm water. Yay! Warm rain in winter <3 – Youstay Igo Mar 3 at 6:16
oh! p.p.s => You can kill your worst enemy/villain when he is skating/dancing on that thin layer of ice on a lake or river! You only have to melt 2-3 square meters area of ice under his feet and boom! Nobody would ever know what hit them! – Youstay Igo Mar 3 at 6:19

The coolest thing you can do?

Violate the laws of thermodynamics!

Essentially, when you just warm one thing up and cools down another to compensate, you are reducing entropy. Not just the local entropy, but the total entropy of the universe.

That makes you able to:

  • Recycle all energy in the universe, even waste heat, preventing the heat death.
  • Create a perpetual motion machine that even if not producing energy continues to move.
  • Anger a lot of scientists.
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+1 for "Anger a lot of scientists". Well said. – AndreiROM Mar 2 at 15:35
Isn't that going to increase the entropy? – BЈовић Mar 2 at 15:54
@BЈовић Creating a heat gradient without expending energy violates the second law of thermodynamics. – Hohmannfan Mar 2 at 17:08
@Hohmannfan No, I thought that big gradiants are going to increase entropy, not decrease, since the entropy is a measurements of chaos. Am I wrong? – BЈовић Mar 2 at 17:30
@BЈовић Maximal entropy is the heat death, when there are no more gradients. But you are right that not every way of breaking the t-laws must result in a reduction of entropy. – Hohmannfan Mar 2 at 19:11

Some things I can think of that would normally get reserved for other members of the team but I think it'd be a fun fun power.

1: Disable pretty much any battery powered object or engine. Frozen batteries don't work. A speeding car can be stopped in it's tracks when a little of the liquid in the fuel line suddenly freezes solid.

2: Convince Steve you have lazer vision.

3: Convince Steve you have supermans freezing breath.

4: Convince Steve you can breath fire.

5: Convince Steve that your animal sidekick can breath fire.

6: Convince Steve that he has developed powers and can breath fire but can't control it.

7: Produce a burst of hard-gamma radiation or xrays by heating a few atoms to obscenely high temperatures.

8: Never need a microwave.

8a: Make Steve think the microwave is broken because no matter how long he microwaves food it never gets hot.

8b: Make Steve think he's going crazy because no matter how long he holds the frying pan over the flame on the hob, it never even gets warm.

9: Create a burst of mist at will by cooling a section of air.

10: Launch yourself into the air by lying on something and flash-heating the air on the other side.

11: Help protect a space capsule from burning up by cooling the heat-shield and dumping the heat into the air.

12: Create a partial vacuum by cooling the air to close to zero so that it turns to liquid or solid.

13: Cut almost any object by heating a very very very thin layer of material.

14: Freeze off any warts or verrucas.

15: Make icecream in moments whenever you want.

16: Perfectly chill any drink.

17: Make it so Steve burns his mouth on poptarts no matter how long he waits before biting into them.

18: Conceal don't feel.

19: Convince people that you're the human torch by cooling the air close to you but heating the air a few inches further out.

20: Play The Floor Is Lava with real lava.

21: Convince people that you have an invisible shield by creating a half sphere of frozen air.

22: Write in the air with letters of fire and freezing air.

23: Convince Steve there's a ghost by cooling the air in the shape of a ghost and having your misty figure float around.

24: Walk on water by freezing it as you go.

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Yeah #21 wouldn't work that way, frozen air would be pretty much all solid oxygen and nitrogen, they would both put off a considerable amount of fog just like liquid nitrogen does, in addition since the solid oxygen would be much more concentrated than in gas form you could use it to fuel fire's explosively though it might work better with liquid air so that's even cooler. – Vakus Drake Mar 4 at 4:26
oh it would be useless as an actual shield and brittle as snow but if you just want to make it look like you had some kind of shield/dome over you I think you could pull it off briefly. Teams member with a shield creates one. Our guy: "Pff, I've got my own", [misty 'shield' appears over him]. Another team member leans over and flicks it with a finger and it all collapses into splinters and mist. – Murphy Mar 4 at 11:49
Well it would be brittle if you flash froze it because it would retain the density of a gas and immediately fall apart, but if you took a few seconds you could transition it through a liquid state, of course that wouldn't let you make instant frozen air structures though. Also of note in addition to being great for fueling fires/explosions due to it's higher oxygen density frozen air would also be diamagnetic due to liquid and solid O2's diamagnetism. – Vakus Drake Mar 5 at 1:13

Your most overpowered ability is this:

to change the temperature of anything at will, from the Planck temperature

Samuel's answer here: If Absolute Hot and Absolute Zero, collided what would happen? describes why the cooling factor doesn't make a lot of difference to the result rather well.

Even with the fact that things have to be cooled, at most the cooling factor close by would decrease the already 1032 Kelvin range to... still in the 1032 Kelvin range. Even if you split it in half, you're still only bringing that 32 to a 31. That is not enough difference for what will happen.

This is well beyond the quark-gluon plasma stage. You'll turn everything around you into a molten soup in the state that it was in slightly after the Big Bang, and the energy would form a black hole called a kugelblitz. It's bad news for anything in that entire region of space.

With an equivalent amount of cooling, you'd have to expand your region of cooling as 0 Kelvin would be your limitation on the other end. One cubic meter of heat and one cubic meter of cold wouldn't be equivalent here. And it wouldn't do much to help your character or their solar system.

This has an interesting side effect - If you heat up one cubic meter to the Planck temperature, you'd have to lower the temperature of up to 329 cubic meters to near absolute zero to be equivalent.

It wouldn't necessarily be the coolest (pun maybe intended) action because this action would be the last action that the power-holder ever made.

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hmmmm. If you limited yourself to heating just a few atoms to the Planck temperature then sucking the heat out of one mole of atoms would net you 10^23 atoms worth of heat. with carbon atoms that's about 12 grams. suck the heat out of 12 thousand tons and you might be able to push an atom up to near the right range. – Murphy Mar 2 at 20:53
@Murphy I'm curious whether that would create a mini kugelblitz and if so how long it might last, and whether it would be big enough to be stable, but alas I don't have the physics knowhow to answer these questions. – Vakus Drake Mar 4 at 4:29

depending on how fine the control is, this could be used as a sort of general telekinesis. heat is, after all, just kinetic energy that has been spread out around a system. if you could make it so that all of the atoms move in the same direction instead of moving randomly, you could move things at a subatomic level. but even without that, just slightly redistributing all the energy in someones brain would let you instantly (and painlessly...) kill anyone. also, IIRC, the amount of thermal energy in something depends on how hard it is to heat, so even someone who is super-strong would just give you more potential energy to fight them with.

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Congratulations, you just solved the world's energy issues. Have two tanks, one high and one low, with turbines between them. Fill the lower tank with cold water, the upper tank with steam. Swap the temperature of the water in the two tanks. The water and steam swap places, spinning the turbines, generating power. Repeat ad naseum, making sure not to let any of the heat escape into the walls of the tanks.

Well, with your limitation on range, you might not solve the entire world's power issues, but you can probably power a moderately sized town, and make a decent amount of money in the process.

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