So if you haven't watched the film, basically there's this one character who suffers from a (fictional) condition referred to as “molecular disequilibrium.” As described by the character, it's a condition where “Every cell in my body is torn apart and stitched back together, over and over every day.” With said condition, the character can phase through solid objects and living beings at will. Basically she can quantum shift through space.

From what I understand, she had become intangible from a childhood accident but able to solidify her body if she stayed focus. Another character was trying find a way to cure her condition, developing some kind of quantum chamber to allow her to briefly stabilize and ease her pain.

This “molecular disequilibrium” is a concept that I'm interested in, especially because I wanted to apply similar condition where the cells are torn apart and stitched back together to a whole fictional race I'm currently writing. So I'm curious how plausible it is scientifically.

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    $\begingroup$ On a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being the Force from Star Wars and 10 being "it already exists", I'd give it a 0.1 just because theoretically, you might be able to get past some permeable membrane that way, but only slowly and a bit messy/slimy. But I have no idea what happens to e.g. bones and teeth, as far as I know they are not made out of cells. But that's assuming that molecular whatever means that they get torn apart into molecules. If you are only interested in if it would be possible to shift through solid objects, perhaps forget about all the babble and focus on that $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 7 '18 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Ratidz_35 But the force does exist! $\endgroup$ – boxcartenant Aug 7 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ If someone lost corporeality and was still affected by gravity, they would fall to the center of the earth immediately. If they weren't affected by gravity, they would quickly drift away from the earth as the earth turned through space without them. $\endgroup$ – boxcartenant Aug 7 '18 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ I don't actually know that mystic forces can't exist, so I'd say that molecular disequilibrium is well into the negative on @Raditz_35's scale. Disregarding the vile midichlorian rumor, the Force is nonscientific, while molecular disequilibrium attempts to pervert science. Meaning that it's fine for a comic book universe, but wouldn't fly in regular science fiction. $\endgroup$ – David Thornley Aug 7 '18 at 21:04

A 'condition where “Every cell in my body is torn apart and stitched back together, over and over every day.”' has a scientific plausibility of about zero.

Something that tears apart every cell in a body would totally destroy that body. This would either be an external force and applying that external force wouldn't be easy. If it was internal this is almost the equivalent of every cell exploding.

But whatever is necessary to stitch every cell in a body back together definitely requires an external mechanism. This isn't so much a condition as being massively processed to restore waht would have been a totally destroyed body.

Every name itself "molecular disequilibrium" sounds more like chemistry and in particular reaction kinetics. If it was, this would have nothing to having every cell ripped apart and put back together again and again and again.

If you want to have a population of people who can quantum shift through solid matter, just give them the ability to pass through solid matter and leave it at that. Don't decorate a story with what is easily recognizable pseudoscientific nonsense. Never try to explain more than you know. If you want them to walk through the walls, well they can, because walking through walls is what they can do.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, just to add on the stitching back together part... don't forget the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, even with an external part. $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 7 '18 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @BladeWraith Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle would only play a part if the cellular reassemble went all the way down to the quantum scale. The whole "molecular disequilibrium" thing is too handy-wavy to know where quantum mechanics comes into the picture. Every pseudoscientific "explanation" for walking through solid matter invariably fails when any real science is considered. Better to say it happens than coming up with a fake rationale. We both know quantum mechanics is abused enough not to be dragged into something like this. Glad you liked the answer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 8 '18 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ It just needs to go down to the atomic scale, not quantum scale. i agree the whole thing is absurd, but then again, does a giant sized man or a ant sized man seem any less absurd? just wanted to add the HUP to your answer as it would be a factor $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 8 '18 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ At the beginning of Superman 3, Superman sees a fire in a large factory. He flies to a lake, blows on it to freeze the top layer, picks it up by the edge, and holds it over the factory as it melts. This is superhero comic physics, and nobody would attempt to recreate it in any other medium. $\endgroup$ – David Thornley Aug 8 '18 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @fairsky Your clarification is appreciated. My answer basically still stands especially if you ignore the last paragraph. People who are constantly disintegrating & reintegrating with need an external mechanism to firstly keep on taking them apart. As well as storing the information about the structure of their bodies down to their cells, and to put them back together again (constantly). They also require an energy source to power the disintegration & reintegration. Perhaps, by absorbing energy from the environment(?). $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 10 '18 at 5:30

While probably not Physically possible, there is precedent in Sci-Fi for something more or less along these lines. First off Ant Man and the Wasp (obviously), where the character is more or less in control of their condition, but the exact how/what they can do is unclear. However, if you're looking for some good, classic Particle destruction and Reconstruction, look no further than Watchmen's Dr Manhattan. With the power to control all of matter, Dr Manhattan was described as "a walking atomic bomb," who was destroyed in an experiment involving 'intrinsic fields,' which is more or less analogous to the strong and weak forces that hold together atomic bonds. While it's unclear why Dr Manhattan has the powers he does, the experiment that gave him these powers renders him devoid of any illusion of free will, since he can see the past and the future, and does not experience anything as a "present." Heady stuff, and if you haven't read Watchmen, I highly recommend it.

That aside, there is research into these subjects, but they are still very shrouded in mystery. There's a relevant xkcd on the topic: https://xkcd.com/1489/ - specifically the tooltip. The universe is a weird place, and anything is plausible. It's pretty unlikely anything like Ant Man and the Wasp will ever happen, but that isn't to say it can't happen.


Highly implausible, even with magical pseudo science. This is clearly apparent as immediately after beginning to phase she should have simply phased through the floor to be embedded somewhere in the core of the earth. There should also be constant small explosions caused by the sudden vacuum caused by air flooding into the space she previously existed in and then dramatically increasing the pressure inside her body causing gruesome scenes of air trying to escape her body. So whatever science you use to achieve the affects the affects themselves almost certainly kills her.

Having seen the movie I can also confirm that none of the reasons given in the film would have caused the effects seen on screen. Though most would have killed her. Regarding "Every cell in my body is torn apart and stitched back together, over and over every day" this would not have allowed her to travel through walls to see why this is take all the pencils out of your pencil case throw them at the wall and reassemble them on the other side. As for "molecular disequilibrium" that could really meaning anything, a cooking potato is technically in molecular disequilibrium.

That being said still a great film and a great character, i'd advice using the same vague pseudo science in your story regardless of its unrealism.


I think that the movie has provided us with a beautiful concept of quantum disequillibrium.....This can be related to Quantum Superposition as it seems from the movie. Her hands are continuously changing their coordinates in periodic fashion. Such an unusual motion can also be ascribed through wavefunctions, representing different states of the same energy.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. We request that answers be longer and more thorough, so that people not schooled in the art can understand why your answer works. Forgive me for also pointing out that stating the movie expresses disequilibrium and/or quantum superposition well without explaining why (for those not schooled in the art) isn't actually answering the question. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 13 '18 at 20:17

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