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Explanations for fire setting are easier to come by than explanations for fire resistance. Being able to set fires with nothing more than their hands, my 'fire-setters' need protection from the flames. So far, traits such as bony/keratinous plates or lots of protective skin would change the physique to something that appears less human. Perhaps symbiotic bacteria would work if there was a way to make the fire-setters not look furry with it. I'm mostly caught in a search for something at least slightly grounded in science.

How could my fire-setters have their skin and hair remain mostly undamaged in extreme heat?

Any kind of scientific explanation flies. Crazy diet, alien biochemistry, pretty much everything that works is fine with some explanation. As long as my fire-setters externally appear mostly human in shape, their skin and hair is reminiscent of humans', and they can maintain their fire resistance biologically. I don't mind at all if their abilities are limited, so long as they can at least withstand temperatures around 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832°F) for at least an hour.

Don't worry about evolution, as these creatures are man-made. If this is too absurd and I should just hand wave, I understand.

Edit: Other requirements are that they think like humans and can fulfill basic requirements of living things such as having metabolisms, regulating themselves, and reproducing. I would prefer for them to have DNA and RNA unless this is impossible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Making skin fire resistant is not the trick. Leather is really good at fire resistance. Hair is a problem, and unless you change the protein, it will remain a problem. But the trick is to make the flesh fire resistant. Lots and lots of capillaries to a llow blood to carry the heat away, similar to firewalkers, would bea start. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 5 '18 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ Will they be entirely surrounded by fire? I can see them holding a hot fire in their hands for two hours or taking a walk through a burning building, but would they be exposed to that kind of extreme heat surrounding their entire body for a prolonged period of time? That would be a lot harder to withstand. At that point, smoke inhalation becomes a problem too. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Oct 5 '18 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should specify where you're willing to draw the line between overt hand-waving and plausible ambiguity, at least if you want them to biologically maintain resistance at those temperatures. Biology's inability to deal with such high temperatures is part of its fundamental structure, so you'll probably have to hand-wave at some point. $\endgroup$ – Misha R Oct 5 '18 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnLocke They should be able to be completely surrounded by fire for at least an hour. Activities such as sitting in a wood fire should not harm them. Currently, I am not focusing on the avoidance of damage from smoke inhalation, but that sounds like a nice future topic. $\endgroup$ – Roki Oct 6 '18 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MishaR I am looking for answers that are based on a realistic scientific concept. By no means do answers have to be hard science or perfect. Handwavery may come in the application of the scientific principle, as all I'm looking for is a solution that could at least explain one part of the fictional phenomenon. I didn't expect biology as we know it to hold every answer to this dilemma. $\endgroup$ – Roki Oct 6 '18 at 0:13
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Possibly look at the diatom - an organism that is able to process silica to build its cell wall. This is abnormal in the animal kingdom, but you could potentially create a scenario where scientists developed living beings with thick skin that is able to store silicates and react to heat by quickly synthesizing a silicate-based asbestos-like layer with a reflective glass-like surface. In other words, something similar to a fire proximity suit.

This may raise questions of metabolism, method, and how quickly you can actually do that (diatoms are tiny, as are cell walls), but you may have to chalk it up to the miracles of future science. Might also want to make silica in some way part of their diet.

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Aerogel

enter image description here

While your beings appear entirely normal from a distance, or while not playing with fire, a closer examination when they /are/ will find their skin and hair encrusted with almost entirely translucent, pale-blue structures, like so:

enter image description here

What will this take, diet wise? Well, aerogel is made of silicon alkoxides, so they'll need to consume a lot of silica, which should be easy enough... and they'll also need a lot of ethanol! Beer is a good source of both silica and ethanol, so they'll probably drink shitloads of beer.

Their bodies can do hydrolysis reactions organically as the fire-setters begin to sweat out the chemical precursors to our aerogel, extruding it through their pores as they biologically form the M-OH-M bridges that are necessary for the structure.

Nowadays, the way we go from this superstructure to aerogel is with a solvent exchange, since exposing the stuff to high temperatures necessary for supercritical drying is tricky, but your species can already create fire, so problem solved! Transition the rest of the liquid medium inside the sweated-out pre-aerogel to a supercritical fluid, and bang, you have an amazing heat-insulator.

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