I have a character who's power is essentially taking control of photons and forcing them to act like atoms to form a sort of "light mass". The character in question isn't a human although they look like one from the outside. They are more mentally advanced than humans and are biologically different, but other than that they have barely any set in stone biological rules.

My question is how could a sentient humanoid being manually control photons in a way that wouldn't heavily impact the world around them.

( The main story is set in a world socially identical to our earth in 2018, although said character does not originate from it. )

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    $\begingroup$ Could you perhaps explain your first sentence a bit better? That makes 0 sense to me. But if you say things like that, you might as well do this with technobabble. Also, what do you mean by control? Does he have a device or are you asking about magic? How does this interaction take place? I think currently this question boils down to: I constructed a fancy sounding sentence, please make sense out of it. If that is the case, I don't have anything against it, in fact it would be a rather good question, but then perhaps ask it like that. Also, what heavy impacts on the world do you suspect? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 29 '18 at 9:34
  • $\begingroup$ You should tell us what you expect this character to do with its photon control superpower, and maybe we could answer better. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Jun 29 '18 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ PS: Sorry, not enough space, there is another approach to save this question: Tell us what you want as the end result. E.g. you want a character that can create a lot of mass out of thin air. Or a character that can make the room dark. Or perhaps something else or multiple things - and then someone might come up with a solution on how to do it or at least a description of what needs to be done, regardless of if it can be done. And please specifiy if magic is a thing $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 29 '18 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ Just handwave everything with the jargon you like most and voilà! Superpowers explained. Or you could consult any Marvel Universe wikipedia online to learn how to invent your own explanations $\endgroup$ – Valerio Pastore Jun 29 '18 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ Whenever I use a lens to burn a letter on a newspaper print I am manually controlling photons... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '18 at 10:22

I'll just leave these here:





Solid light is possible, not sure if its possible in a humanoid but perhaps...

Edit: I have no idea how the solid light can happen, except that quantum mechanics have something to do with it. The sources, should they expire, mention research by professors at (separately) Harvard and Princeton have created ways for light to behave as a solid and a liquid. One article also mentioned that "elsewhere" light is actively being turned into matter and the photons being bonded into simple molecules (Imperial College of Londen and Max Planck institute, https://newatlas.com/experiment-to-turn-light-into-matter/32107/).

The process is also called "macroscopic self-trapping" inside a lattice, where the photons lock themselves into place. The process apparently causes the light to (quantum) entangle itself and start behaving like atoms. The process uses several macroscale objects like 100billion atoms designed to act like a single atom and a superconducting wire carrying Photons. Such events would need to be recreated by the humanoid.

The researchers think that light this way could have very exotic properties, and could be used to simulate both hypothetical unproven particles and proven particles such as superfluids. This would give the OP a lot of leeway in what the humanoid could pull off.

Edit 2: Fun fact, the "magic" in Docter Strange was actually based on this exact method. Matpat isn't the most scientific but he bases it on the works of one in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drXGJ3ZZdvc

  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent I improved the answer. Better this way? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 29 '18 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, I've been lazy to use a default comment tough. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jun 29 '18 at 19:45

This cannot work unless you deny relativity entirely in your story, which is a corner stone of modern science.

Light travels at the speed of light (no surprise there) and ONLY the speed of light. There is not even the possibility of getting a perspective on a photon stationary as that would require you to move at the same speed - which is impossible as matter can not achieve the speed of light. And no matter how fast you go. From your perspective light will always have the speed of light.

From the perspective of a photon its entire lifespan is one moment. Not a really short timeframe - a moment. For it its entire path is not a line from A to B. It's the same spot as space in it's path is infinitely compressed because of relativity. And so is the timeframe. From it's perspective it exists for one moment at one spot and then it is gone.

There is no going around that. That is one of the universal constants and the very foundation of relativity.

Stationary photons can not exist.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... Actually: What if rather than stationary photons, they were instead travelling in extremely tight circles, say slightly larger than the diameter of an atom? Then your photons aren't motionless, but rather experiencing a massive sideways acceleration $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 29 '18 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ They do not move in circles. They travel in a straight line (from their perspective). To bend the path of a photon you need to bend space. Like gravity does. Meaning you would need a supermassive, ridiculously tiny black hole. - meaning matter. $\endgroup$ – ArtificialSoul Jun 29 '18 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ I had no idea that Water (refraction), Corners (diffraction) or Mirrors (reflection) were supermassive, ridiculously tiny black holes. Because, you know, those are also ways to bend light. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 29 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Those effects happen when light passes THROUGH matter. Also it is not a curve/circle and it can't make light got in a circle. $\endgroup$ – ArtificialSoul Jun 29 '18 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ Considering the links I just posted, there's at least two proven ways to make light behave differently in the real world without having to throw relativity out of the window. Not sure how they deal with light that isn't moving at lightspeed, but it seems possible. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 29 '18 at 19:03

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