While I am aware that there have been a lot of posts about how shape-shifting could be possible, but I am asking if this type shape-shifting would work.

Okay so fair warning, physics isn't my strong suit so I may not be the most scientifically literate thing in the world and it involves a fair bit of quantum physics. So basically there is this device no bigger than a pocket watch that syncs the matter of user to itself and turns their entire atomic structure into programmable matter. It gets the energy to add mass by the superpositioned photons constantly gaining kinetic energy from the pull of a spinning black hole in a glass cage this energy is synced back to the specialized photonic battery of the device and allows the user to change their atomic structure to pre-programmed forms. So could this work? Why or why not? If not, is there another way this could work?

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    $\begingroup$ Before I try to write an answer, I feel compelled to point out that programmable matter is a long way from living, biological matter that can preserve its sentience through any phase change. Also, your black hole in a glass cage is likely going to need far more energy to maintain (and contain) than would be introduced for mass production. Black holes are often used in speculation like this as a replacement for a perpetual motion (read energy) machine, and they... well, aren't. I really don't want to be negative, but this is a very complicated model and your shape-shifters need simplicity. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    May 8, 2018 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ mimic octopus strapped to a radio, at least this is how I train my "black-hole" a.k.a killer shape shifter... now die guppies! $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    May 8, 2018 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ @TimBII well crap $\endgroup$
    – Amoeba
    May 8, 2018 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ You've made several posts that have impossible physics requirements, and as you seem to want scientific plausibility perhaps the first step should be an informal online course in basic physics (YouTube ?). I mean this as a serious suggestion - you need a feel for what's possible and what is not and how physics works generally. Or maybe a Physics For Dummies book (from your local library ?). $\endgroup$ May 8, 2018 at 4:32

1 Answer 1


TimBII said it in his comment, but I'll go ahead and make it an answer:


If you turn a sentient biological creature into programmable matter, you're not going to have a sentient biological creature anymore. Even assuming you could "prime" the user's atomic/molecular structure to become programmable matter at the push of a button without yet doing so, when you push that button, the user will cease to exist.

I should also point out that if you can transform normal organic molecules into programmable matter, you don't really need to - you can just rearrange the user's molecules directly. Of course, in so doing, you will kill them, but Star Trek is alright with that.

So, you could have your shape-shifting watch. It transforms the user's matter into some other form which is not the user for a given duration, then restores the user's matter into its previous state. The user will not be conscious (and will in fact, be dead) for the duration of this transformation, but it's a very effective disguise.

Your power source, as was also commented upon, is implausible, but as long as you're not too tied to reality, you can hand-wave the energy requirements with zero-point energy or something similar.

The remaining problem would be the ethical and philosophical conundra that this would create. Did the user die, or simply briefly cease to exist and then resume existing? Are souls real, and do they stick around when the user is not themselves? If your watch can record your complete state right before it transforms you, can that be duplicated on another piece of appropriate-mass matter? If so, is that new construct also you?

These are all interesting things to consider, but you won't have a conscious-in-another-form shapeshifter as a result of your watch.

Edit: There are also enormous problems with both "scanning" the target matter (ie. your user) to a level of definition that includes whatever states are relevant to allow you to reconstruct them after the fact, and rearranging their matter in a rapid fashion that isn't horrifically destructive to everything in their vicinity. But again, we let Star Trek get away with it.


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