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Remember the metallic substance that the T-1000 was made out of in the movie T2: Judgment Day? I want to create a substance like that in a story with some modifications...

So, the substance can move and take just about any shape, but it does not create more mass. For example, if there was a ton of it, it could take the shape of an elephant that weighed a ton, but not take the shape of a whale that weighs 20 tons. It cannot create something from nothing.

It can come apart into smaller components. For example: If there was a ton of it, it could take the shape of two separate elephants that each weigh half a ton.

It can only take the shape of something. It does not actually become that thing unless that thing is mechanical. So it could take the shape of a car but it would still need gasoline, a car battery, etc.

It could mimic a person, but not down the fine microscopic details.

It could withstand the vacuum of space.

It could become very hard or very malleable. When its malleable it relaxes and encompasses a bit more space.

It obeys commands from a computer that sends out signals to it. Without the signals it just falls into a malleable ball, but not a liquid puddle.

Also, and here’s the kicker, I want it to be able to float in the air. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean “anti-gravity” though. Maybe there a magnetic wave that it works within, or something like that(?)

Does anyone want to take a crack at proposing what might comprise such a thing? “Magic” not allowed.

Re-edit: Michio Kaku describes what I mean here-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGHKHmOUWb0

Re-re-edit: And yet another possibility...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPlhdzMKp6A

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closed as too broad by Aify, kingledion, Andon, StephenG, L.Dutch Feb 17 '18 at 8:09

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this an attempt by the devious K2 State Security Department to ferret out any dissident defectors who may have hidden among us? Otherwise I cannot see how inhabitants of a world at Kardashev 0.75 could possibly imagine how the technology of a world at Kardashev 2 works; for us it's pure magic. Or are you satisfied with technobabble? In this case, the material is a form of smart flexinconel, probably Universal Metacorp's Nuflexin; it's made of self-powered smart flexible droplets. (Universal Metacorp and Nuflexin are trademarks of Universal Metacorp, registered in all known universes.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 16 '18 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ Try nano-robots. Tiny little machines that can make things out of themselves and other things. For a beginner's course in nano-robots (at the K1.5 level), I'd suggest the entire Stargate TV series. :-) There's also a pseudo material in Greg Bear's "Eon" which is used to "create" e.g. room furnishings to taste without actually using any conventional material, if my memory serves me correctly. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Feb 17 '18 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP. Delinquent Habits? Nice. $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 17 '18 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Realistic option, CNT based smart matter, partially described here paragraph "Note about Venus scrap, snake elephant". There is some followup clarification. Flying in air can be done in assembling conventional means from it - planes, dirigibles. It can make two normal size elephants which each can weight half of what it was originally, but it can take soil for ballast part. Be familiar with Isaac Arthur active supporting structures helps. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 17 '18 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Also, you can ask followup questions to clarify the concept here if you would like so. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Feb 17 '18 at 23:48
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Utility fog

Utility fog (coined by Dr. John Storrs Hall in 1993) is a hypothetical collection of tiny robots that can replicate a physical structure. As such, it is a form of self-reconfiguring modular robotics. ... Hall and his correspondents soon realised that utility fog could be manufactured en masse to occupy the entire atmosphere of a planet and replace any physical instrumentality necessary to human life.
Wikipedia

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Great idea. The part I don't get though is how they "levitate". All the info I'm finding is kinda glossing over this aspect of it. $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 17 '18 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Len If they can replicate physical structures they can levitate or fly by replicating structures that levitate or fly – drones, birds, balloons, and so on. Smaller structures could float on thermals and light breezes, the way spores and dandelion seeds do. $\endgroup$ – rek Feb 18 '18 at 7:23
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A ferrofluid projected down from a higher dimension. The magnetic source exists in the higher dimension (thus we cannot observe it), while the fluid itself appears in our own. This would give it the ability to do things like "defy gravity", as it's rooted in a dimension that's bound by other rules than ours. Of course, you'd need to explain who exactly is controlling this substance – and why they're fussing about in our dimension.

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    $\begingroup$ if the magnetic source exerts a magnetic force in our dimensions we can definitely observe it... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 17 '18 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, doesn't Dark Matter exist in our very own "dimension" and we cant observe it? $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 17 '18 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ So the hard part is putting that magnetic source in another dimension. (The ferrofluid already exists and since we're supposing futuristic technology we can assume that their ferrofluid does many more things than our IRL version can.) $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 17 '18 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Len, observation is based on some sort of interaction. We don't know (yet) how to interact with dark matter. But we know very well how to interact with a magnetic field. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 17 '18 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, DOH! You got me. $\endgroup$ – Len Feb 17 '18 at 18:37

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