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What examples are there in science fiction of molecular shields that can cancel out or "eat" certain molecules--and are they plausible? Is it hypothetically possible to create a giant levee that is a non-physical forcefield or electronic membrane that could cover a greater scope than steel or concrete, such as a thousands-of-miles shoreline in danger of flooding due to a rising sea level? Any examples or instances of this being done on a small scale would be helpful to answer the question.

I'm trying to figure out how much energy would be needed to produce a giant barrier like this. Maybe it can convert the water molecules to energy, too, if they are washing into it at a substantial force.

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    $\begingroup$ You want this to work on and only on "water molecules"? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 28 '18 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean something like a semi-permeable membrane as those used in reverse-osmosis water desalination? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 28 '18 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyWorman: You should put everything you just said into your question in order to clear things up and get answers that are more relevant. At the bottom of your question below the list of tags there should be an 'edit' button. $\endgroup$ – Giter Aug 28 '18 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ an electric field doesn't sound like a good idea to be absorbed by water. Your field would dissipate into the water. Are you looking for star trek science where force fields block everything somehow and apply a repulsive force? $\endgroup$ – Trevor D Aug 28 '18 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ What is a "non-physical forcefield"? Some kind of ESP or magic or the literal Hand of God or something? Sure, if your world has non-physical things that can affect physical things, they can do whatever you want, but then you can't ask for "how much energy", because energy is a physical quantity. $\endgroup$ – abarnert Aug 29 '18 at 4:02
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This very much exists in the real world, on a colossal mind boggling scale. It is not brand new tech but it is still super useful and still amazing on many levels. Here is a fine example:

hoover dam https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/26/city-of-los-angeles-wants-to-turn-hoover-dam-into-worlds-largest-pumped-energy-storage-facility/

The Hoover Dam, 8th Wonder of the World. The molecules involved are those of concrete and steel and they can indeed be switched into and out of place with giant mechanisms. And as requested, the giant barrier that is the dam does very much convert water molecules into energy. The cool thing - you extract energy from the water and then still have the water molecules when you are done!

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    $\begingroup$ What a great answer, +1. @ClayDeitas I hope this ping works - I told you that some things are just not implied on WB, this is a perfect example. Sometimes people miss the obvious $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 28 '18 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @AnthonyWorman en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_control_in_the_Netherlands $\endgroup$ – Yakk Aug 28 '18 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 Either the @ has to be the first thing in the comment, or the person has to be in the thread, because I didn't get pinged. However, I ended up here anyways and I see what you mean. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 28 '18 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to ping someone, they must either (a) be the original author of the post being commented on, (b) have edited the post, or (c) have a non-deleted comment on the post. @ClayDeitas (Position doesn't matter, see?) $\endgroup$ – Nic Hartley Aug 28 '18 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Nic Hartley Thanks for the clarification. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 28 '18 at 21:52
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What you are referring to is not science fiction, it is science fact. Biological science in particular. An example is the fat (lipid) molecule.

Nonpolar molecules that repel the water molecules are said to be hydrophobic; molecules forming ionic or a hydrogen bond with the water molecule are said to be hydrophilic. This property of water was important for the evolution of life. Hydrophobic interaction plays the most critical roles in the formation of the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane and the folding of proteins and nucleic acids; therefore, hydrophobic interaction is the foundation for the existence of life.

https://www.nnin.org/education-training/k-12-teachers/nanotechnology-curriculum-materials/water-race-hydrophobic-0

You might also want to research soap.

Washing up liquid is a kind of soap. Normally, oil and water don't mix, so they separate into two different layers. Soap breaks up the oil into smaller drops, which can mix with the water. It works because soap is made up of molecules with two very different ends. One end of soap molecules love water - they are hydrophilic. The other end of soap molecues hate water - they are hydrophobic

from http://www.planet-science.com/categories/under-11s/chemistry-chaos/2011/06/soap---how-does-it-get-things-clean.aspx

However, it is not yet scaled up to the size you want. But doing so is just a matter of economics and the availability of capital to do so. It would 'just' take a lot of engineering and the blending of engineering with biology.

But unfortunately, the bottom line is that no matter how hydrophobic the molecule, you are faced with the mechanical problem of holding back the pressure from the water. That is, it is not difficult to make a huge barrier of hydrophobic molecules, but it would just be swept away by the force of the water. How do you reinforce and anchor the membrane? Somehow, you would need a huge counter-pressure. Say, a very highly pressurized bubble, perhaps?

But then, it is not the hydrophobic qualities that are holding back the water, it is the mechanical properties of the structure that contains the hydrophobic molecules.

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Based on the question as it is now, a sort of solid energy barrier to block water, you would need a cold plasma shaped by magnetic fields to act like a barrier.

Plasma is just ionized gas, such as evaporating wax as it's burning at the top of a candle. It's quite easy to control the flow of plasmas within electromagnetic fields.

To ionize something, either add electrons or strip away electrons. A high voltage antenna such as a tesla coil can ionize air quite easily, making spectacular arcs of lightning fly out. The process goes on in fluorescent light bulbs, neon signs, all TVs except for the LED based ones, etc., and as I said earlier, from many chemical reactions that cause things to burn.

What is beyond the realm of physics, though, is a way to keep a gas ionized while it's in contact with water. Since non-purified water is an excellent conductor, as soon as a plasma touches it, the plasma is grounded out, bringing the number of electrons back to a neutral state.

Since your gas is in a neutral state, it's not a plasma any more, so can't be directed by magnetic fields.

This is where you'd use some handwavium: a gas that stays ionized even when in contact with an excellent conductor.

Alternatively, you could keep on bombarding the seas with newly ionized plasmas accelerated towards the water by vast arrays of plasma "guns" (which would resemble a gun in much the way a wide nozzle power washer resembles a gun; it's not a single kinetic round travelling in a ballistic arc, it's a steady stream of particles spraying out and expanding out in the same general direction) but then it's the wind pushing the water back, not any sort of "energy barrier." You might as well just get tons of fans to blow the water; as it would be far more efficient and just as hilarious.

If you want to avoid handwavium, though, just set up inflatable dams like they have protecting some inland lakes from storm surges in the Netherlands.

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    $\begingroup$ I love the image of the Netherlands with a wall of giant high-speed fans along the coast. Might be dangerous for fishing boats, but might be even more hilarious than dangerous. $\endgroup$ – abarnert Aug 29 '18 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ @abarnert That is by far the best answer here and yet it's only a comment. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 29 '18 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ClayDeitas The image comes straight out of Ghedipunk's answer, all I added was the fishing boats. I would love someone to turn his throwaway idea into a real answer—work out how powerful the fans would have to be, how much of the Netherlands would have to be covered in windmills to power them, and how fishermen could possibly dock anywhere. But that's beyond my estimation abilities. $\endgroup$ – abarnert Aug 30 '18 at 1:06
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To answer the question, this is a short and sweet one:

What you are asking for doesn't exist using any known science - therefore there is no known plausible or hypothetically possible way to do it.

... There may well be ways to solve the problem that are physically possible though if you are able to ask another question defining your requirements or you can just do what other similar sci-fi does and hand-wave the force fields into existence by assuming some scientific breakthrough. If you do that you can give them whatever properties you need.

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    $\begingroup$ You're not answering OP's question: "What examples are there in science fiction of molecular shields that can cancel out or "eat" certain molecules--and are they plausible?" $\endgroup$ – Flater Aug 29 '18 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Flater "There's nothing plausible about this," is a valid answer to the question. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 29 '18 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre: The issue is more that this answer limits itself to any known science, which is overly restrictive for a question that explicitly asks about sci-fi examples. $\endgroup$ – Flater Aug 29 '18 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Flater ...so, because there could be science we haven't uncovered yet, we can't rule out the possibility of something maybe existing at a future date? How does one reference unknown science to confirm whether something is plausible? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 29 '18 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Flater The question wants to know if there are examples in fiction and if they are plausible. Tim's answer is that there is no plausible method to achieve this. This answers the question of if any method is plausible without providing examples because every example is based on handwavium and, thus, not plausible. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 29 '18 at 12:44
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Is it hypothetically possible to create a giant levee which can be switched on and off that acts as a “water-molecule negating” shield?

There are at least two spillways in Louisiana on the Mississippi River.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnet_Carr%C3%A9_Spillway

enter image description here

The Bonnet Carré Spillway /ˈbɒniː ˈkɛriː/ is a flood control operation in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Located in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana – about 12 miles (19 km) west of New Orleans – it allows floodwaters from the Mississippi River to flow into Lake Pontchartrain and thence into the Gulf of Mexico. The construction of the Spillway was completed in 1931.

Basically, it's a set of gates in the levee. They remain closed except during times of unusually high water during spring floods.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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Water is actually effected both by electric charges and by magnetic fields, but either requires such a strong field that you would basically be making a levee out of electromagnets or modified telsa coils and still not blocking the water completely.

https://www.quora.com/Why-doesnt-a-magnet-attract-water-the-way-a-static-electricity-charged-balloon-does

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Standing Waves

This is where a mechanical device creates vibrations in the water such that a wave is formed, but it interacts with other water movement so as to create a wavetop that doesn't move.

For instance, canals could have "standing wave locks", where instead of gates the standing waves are manipulated to float the boat up. If the locks we built long, the boat wouldn't even have to slow down.

In flood control, the standing waves would simply keep the water out and up at the top of the wave, which never makes any headway toward shore.

Of course if the power fails, instant tsunami...

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a really interesting idea, I am not sure it would work as I see several potential holes in the idea...but it's certainly worth further thought. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 29 '18 at 12:48

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