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I'm writing the last issue of my comic and I'm in trouble. My villain is a member of a cosmic cult that wants to absorb everything in the universe to create a conceptual/energy pangea out of space and time. In other words, the big boss is part of the universe itself and is trying to collapse the rest into himself to return to a pre-big bang state. To conquer planets and citizens the cult send a member to "plant" an obelisk that will absorb matter around itself and convert it to pure energy. Now, the question:

Presuming that the cult has every kind of power, how would the absorb process take place? In a movie, I would make the matter simply disappear but in a comic, I need something different, so I'm asking you how the process could happen in a pseudo-scientific way. Then I'll think about how to draw it.

PS: I'm lurking a lot and that's my first question, I'm kinda excited, you're an awesome community!

EDIT 1

I did not explained it well because it is very long and complex, also metaphorical. It's a kind of "need to be one together" again with the universe, but that's not the point. The obelisk will absorb the matter around itself, collapsing it into the big boss through the energy/mental connection that he has with the obelisk itself. I need a visual explanation more than a scientific one. I know how the physics works in my universe, I don't know how to conceptualize it onto drawings, so I asked for a scientific suggestion that would help me to visualize the process.

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    $\begingroup$ Considering entropy, your "big bad" might actually be the "big good taking the hard decision" by resetting the universe and giving it another go, extending the life before it reaches entropy with billions of years. As for an answer, perhaps look into the swarthshield radius (botched the name there probably) about how Black holes are formed, which are essentially matter-absorbers. Changing this radius large enough could also swallow all energy like light by having an event horizon that grows as large as the universe. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jul 20 '18 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't put down the whole story because it's too long, but you almost got it! Thanks for the advice, I'll take a look. $\endgroup$ Jul 20 '18 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan, I think you're looking for the "schwarzschild radius." $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 20 '18 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Roberto! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods. Have fun! (And cool first question, by the way.) $\endgroup$ Jul 20 '18 at 14:34
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Some theories foresee that your supervillains don't actually have to do anything to revert the universe to a pre big-bang state: the big crunch. Are they trying to speed up the process?

What's "pure energy"? Heat? I doubt it... Electromagnetic radiation? I guess this is better.

Since Einstein's $E=mc^2$ is quite easy to convert mass into energy and, with a "simple" neutron gun/emitter they can just make nucleus of atoms split, releasing energy as we usually do in our nuclear fission power plant. We are not space travelling supervillains, therefore we managed to reach nuclear fission only with few pesky materials like uranium-235, but a cult with "every kind of power" is for sure capable to use most part of the periodic table.

In any case their actions won't actually help to revert the universe in a pre big-bang state, at the opposite they are delaying it by removing mass. If they want a big crunch they should do the opposite: harvest energy from everywhere and convert it in a solid block at the center of the universe.

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I tried leaving a comment to clarify some things about how these obelisks work but I'm also new here and I don't have that power yet. So I'm gonna go ahead and suppose some things about your comic. Feel free to correct whatever I got wrong.

A few assumptions about your universe

Since you mentioned pseudoscience I'm going to start with the fact that the universe is infinte and in expansion. With that in mind, I questioned your statement that the obelisks absorb the matter around them.

How many obelisks would it take to absorb the entire matter of the expanding universe? I'm thinking either a few (and by few I'm probably talking millions) with enormous absorbing capacity or a lot (go figure this amount) with little capacity. Maybe even both, which would be a more accurate narrative element.

Once you solve the issue of the absorbing ratio, there's the problem of the perception of the obelisks by the people it affects. Is this gradual or aggressive? Suppose you place an obelisk on Earth. How do humans perceive the space being sucked around them? Is it like a vortex or black hole from which nothing can escape from? Or things just vanish as time passes and no one really pays much attention until its too late?

The "Agressive" Approach

I would use this one if you assume that every obelisk has a gigantic absorption ratio. You could draw an obelisk as a tremendous anomaly in space that could be perceived parsecs away, like a black hole, a pulsar or even a supernova. Maybe the obelisks manifest diferently throughout the space, since the cult members place them in different locations.

They could also manifest themselves in a way that defies the laws of physics. Maybe a seed planted into a certain sun would alter the orbits of the planets in a given galaxy, making them stray further away from the sun insted of closer. This approach would be great for explaining why he was able to seed so many obelisks before someone noticed - cause even though the changes are drastic (catastrophic, even), someone has to be paying attention to notice them.

The "Gradual" Approach

This approach probably works best in a narrative where the obelisks have to be placed in planets.

Here you would have to show the absorption from the point of view of the inhabitants of the planets. Maybe some people would start losing their memories. Some buildings could start to vanish. People would lose the ability to feel emotions or anything at all. Species could start being extinct out of the blue. And maybe the obelisks have some kind of mechanism that prevents intelligent life from noticing it, so you could show some analogy of rats fleeing the ship while the humans (thinking of an Earth-like scenario) are completely oblivious of their imminent doom.

Another plausible way to picture the obelisks' action would be an increase in natural disasters around the globe, cased due to a significant shriking in the planet's mass (or some science bs explanation like this). Cataclysmic events would start being more and more frequent to a point where the planet would eventually collapse and end all life after crumbling on its own (Sunshine is a good movie to picture the early stages of this, while 2012 would be a way to picture a planet close to its final destination).


Either way, I think it's a cool move to make every obelisk different. Again, I'm taking a lot of freedom with your story here, but why not make every member of the cult attached to one of these obelisks? Maybe they draw a small bit of the energy sucked by the obelisks for themselves, which would make them formidable foes and also give the heroes a geographical way to locate the cultists.

Find the obelisks, find the cultists.

This way, a stronger obelisk would mean an even more terrible foe, until the heroes eventually get to the part-of-the-universe-entity ultimate boss. You said nothing about this guy. And I'm really curious about HIS design. I'm thinking maybe something in the Azathoth neighborhood?

Hope this helped in anything.

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Since you're looking for a comic-book themed visualization, the closest that I can come up with are sinks draining and black holes.

If the obelisk were an object that just absorbed everything that touched it, I would imagine the planet's atmosphere going first, with high speed winds pushing dust and debris along with it. Spiraling bands of clouds would appear in the troposphere, as this is going to produce one huge low pressure zone, and I'd expect to see a huge eye wall cloud, on the scale of the largest hurricanes.

And yes, it would all be swirling because of conservation of angular momentum. The atmosphere would try to form an accretion disk as pressure from the rest of the atmosphere pushes more air and debris into the obelisk.

Eventually the atmosphere would be gone, with the oceans boiling away, and any ice that reaches the melting point just sublimating away instead. At this point, nothing much would happen unless/until the obelisk switches to a more active state, either gathering the planet's material through some unknown force or simply digging straight down. (Our heroes wouldn't ever see this point, of course... but a "lone survivor" from a previously devoured planet can describe the process quite well, and would likely have video of the event from their ship's sensors or even just their planet's equivalent of a smartphone, so I feel it's worth describing further.)

Either way, once it breaks through the crust and into the mantle, gravity does the rest. As the obelisk eats through the molten material, there's nothing left to support the crust above, which will fall inward making the mother of all sinkholes. The sinkhole will get larger and larger, as less of the mantle exists to support the crust. Since the molten rock will be flowing towards the obelisk, the continental plates above will split at the plate boundaries and major fault lines, with the surface of the planet being torn apart, exposing glowing hot mantle to the surface of the planet all around that planet.

Eventually (since the matter/energy is being siphoned off to the universe eater itself, and not being stored in the obelisk), there won't be enough mass around to keep the remnants of the planet pressed up against the dangerous parts of the obelisk. Unless the obelisk goes into another active phase to suck up the rest of these bits, you'll be left with a huge debris and dust field orbiting the star where your planet once was. (Eating planets and stars is messy... Just ask any black hole.)

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