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My new superhuman, Gravero!, has just entered combat. He's a new superhero with a lot going for him! He's resplendant in his dashing tights, his cape flows in exactly the right direction when he stands proudly with both hands on his hips...

But the first time he crushed a well-armed enemy into a diamond the blast of heat burned him bald! It would have only been embarrasing, but his new girlfriend, Magnifique Courbée, was just burned bald, too! She's not happy. Not happy at all.

Given that Gravero!'s super power is controlled gravity, and that he has the ability to crush anything within a 2-3 meter sphere into a 1-mm sphere(ish) pretty much instantly...

Question: Is it realistic that the action of crushing anything (including opponents) would release a massive burst of heat that would affect things within at least a 10 meter radius?

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    $\begingroup$ I am pretty sure yes, but I am so hoping for someone to work the physics and state how much heat would be liberated. It should be calculable. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jul 2 '18 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ I hate to be a spoilsport, but Superman's ability to crush carbonaceous to diamonds overlooks one simple fact. Yes carbon under great pressure and temperature can become diamond. What this overlooks is that it takes time for diamonds to crystallize out of the high temperature, high pressure carbon. Superman and Gravero! would have maintain their super-crushing for a long time to make decent sized diamonds. Diamond making technology does exist but the results are tiny gravel-sized bits of diamond. No lovely big gems to hand to Magnifique Courbee at the end of a romantic evening. Sorry! $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 2 '18 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ RE my comment about the limits of diamond making by superheroes, I hope I am wrong and if anyone can prove superheroes can successfully crush carbon into diamond. Please just go for it. I'd hate to put the dampener on superhero romance. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 2 '18 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Superheros don't crush living people (including the bad guys) into lifeless inanimate things. I think you've created a supervillain. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jul 2 '18 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenG, that may be true, but I've been binge-watching Agents of Shield season 5 and the bloody body count is remarkably high. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 2 '18 at 6:27
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Firstly, you have (quite rightly) identified this question as one of density, not mass. But, I think Gravero is over-doing it a little. Let's look at why.

The internal density of the Earth is generally considered to be around 5.5g/cm^3 which is pretty dense when you consider that water is supposed to be 1g/cm^3, and we consider it relatively dense by comparison to a lot of other materials we work with every day.

The Sun on the other hand is estimated to have an internal density of 160g/cm^3, and that's clearly enough to initiate fusion. That means that if you have densities of around 30 times that in the centre of the Earth, then you can get fusion and all other sorts of interesting materials being created.

The thing is, Gravero is reducing all mass in a 2m diameter (?) sphere into a 1mm diameter sphere. That's a compression ratio of 10 orders of magnitude (based on volume of a sphere).

That's so much, you're getting close to the density inside a neutron star. You don't need that, and yes, that's going to cause heat and hair loss issues for sure.

BUT, what if Gravero dials it down a little?

Human density is roughly the same as that of water (for obvious reasons). So, increasing density by approx. 150 times (2 orders of magnitude) generates mass density similar to that in the centre of the sun. The heat being generated will also increase pressure, and you can convert your human opponent into diamond as the water flash steams and you're left with (mostly) carbon under pressure.

What I don't know is how much density and how much pressure in the form of heat is required to make a diamond out of a human body's carbon. But, pressure is essentially a 2-D force, whereas density is a 3-D measure. As such, I'm pretty sure that Gravero doesn't need to go anywhere near 2m diameters to 1mm diameter to generate diamonds as heat and pressure will be produced long before you get down that far.

I'd argue that all Gravero needs to do is increase gravity to a point where internal density is increased 100-fold (possibly a little less), for a short period of time. Yes, there will be heat at that point and the flash-steam generation is really going to do the most damage if you're close, creating steam burns that really can make you bald. But, Gravero has to have experimented with this capability (preferably at a distance) and figured out the right mix of density increase to cause the desired effect without releasing any more heat than necessary.

On the plus side; Magnifique Courbee is in for a real treat; Gravero can after all create a lovely romantic wood fire to spend a winter's night beside and hand over a diamond at the end of it as a souvenir by applying the same approach to firewood.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer is confusing the fact that "heat creates diamonds", and then concluding that "creating diamonds releases heat", but the opposite would be true. To compare your pile of firewood to your resulting diamond... density of oak: about .74 g/cc. density of diamond: about 3.53 g/cc, so about 5 times as dense. This volume change is hard to make sense of compared to the original question. $\endgroup$ – Leo Lansford Jul 2 '18 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @LeoLansford No, that's not what I'm saying. I understand the difference between exothermic and endothermic reactions; what I'm saying here is that heat actually increases pressure. If you put a human body under 150x density, it will release energy through fusion. It should also allow for the possibility of diamonds to be created from carbon without the need for seeding (after all, the original diamonds had to come from somewhere). $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jul 2 '18 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ The outer parts of the object will find themselves at the outer rim of a gravity well, falling inwards - nevermind pressure, the potential energy will be staggering -also, things that do not encounter resistance (say the target was a hollow sphere) will encounter their counterparts with the escape velocity of a neutron star , both of them. $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm Sep 4 '18 at 15:56
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I am afraid Gravero might going to be soon chased by the worst type of enemy: patent infringment sues.

One of the techniques used to synthetize diamond is explosion:

Diamond nanocrystals (5 nm in diameter) can be formed by detonating certain carbon-containing explosives in a metal chamber. These nanocrystals are called "detonation nanodiamond". During the explosion, the pressure and temperature in the chamber become high enough to convert the carbon of the explosives into diamond. Being immersed in water, the chamber cools rapidly after the explosion, suppressing conversion of newly produced diamond into more stable graphite. In a variation of this technique, a metal tube filled with graphite powder is placed in the detonation chamber. The explosion heats and compresses the graphite to an extent sufficient for its conversion into diamond. The product is always rich in graphite and other non-diamond carbon forms and requires prolonged boiling in hot nitric acid (about 1 day at 250 °C) to dissolve them. The recovered nanodiamond powder is used primarily in polishing applications.

To his luck this process also suggest him how to deal with the blast: throw his enemy into water (lake, sea, swimming pool, whatever) and do the trick.

Also note that to create diamonds by just increasing pressure and temperature one also need to have a diamond seed to trigger the formation of the diamond lattice.

And I am sure that Gravero giving a diamond ring to his opponent before the fight is going to make Courbee even more upset.

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  • $\begingroup$ Patent infringement! That's hilarious! $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 2 '18 at 6:28
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Forget the heat, crushing matter down to density that fast is going to cause atoms to bang into each other, not necessarily hard enough to fuse but hard enough to joggle their internal arrangement. What happens when atomic nuclei change shape? Why they emit ionising radiation in the form of Gamma Rays. If you are standing that close to a body worth of atoms being joggled and bounced off each other the thermal radiation from forced crystallisation reactions is bad but the Gamma Rays are not your friend, having his hair burned off is the least of Gravero's problems.

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All the other answers - which are really excellent and interesting to read! - deal with the process of compressing the matter to this one cubic millimeter.

But - what happens when Gravero stops compressing that poor lad to a grain of sand?

Well, all that matter won't like a density and generated heat very much. It will simply expand to a state with less energy... alot less energy. That energy has to go somewhere. Hopefully everyone is already in a safe distance, because all that energy will leave the compressed matter in a short time.

Since there will be some mindboggingly strange things on in the nuclei of the atoms in the crushing-zone, i would bet that this matter is now highly radioactive.

There you go: You not only killed your opponent through magnificent gravity manipulation, but also blasted his radioactive remains all over the place as soon as you turned away! I wouldn't want to be near Gravero when he gets angry...

PS: I haven't done the math, but im quite sure that the above is more or less acurate.

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Update: my original answer was too busy around separating the notions of heat which come from compression (of conventional matter) versus heat which comes from nuclear sources. However, after more thought, this really is a question about nuclear forces.

When you compress a 100kg person into a single cubic millimeter, you've created a piece of a neutron star: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutronium

(Peson weighs roughly 100kg, which is 10^5 grams. The lightest parts of a neutron star might only be as dense as 10^3 grams per cubic millimeter, calculated from base value of 10^9kg/m^3).

So we can likely expect a big blast of fusion energy when your hero crushes someone that small! And as soon as the crushing is done, another big blast as soon as the pressure on the dot of neutronium is released!

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As others have stated a large explosion would happen and radiation would be emitted. So unless Gravero and his bird are immune to radiation and incredibly resistent to explosions they are dead.

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