Jaswinder lives in a world much like ours except that there is magic, and he has suddenly manifest it. He is able to at will draw on up to (at any one time) the equivalent of 8.9876e+19 joules of magical power (being 1000 kilograms mass-energy conversion) and a completely non-logical effect happens, localized within 1km of Jaswinder (at first), though Jaswinder will always survive whatever it is that happens. Being non-logical, Jaswinder is unable to control what happens and no one studying it would be able to predict what would happen either; it can not be adequately explained by science.

Should Jaswinder ever use his powers? Is there a way to calculate the optimal strategy for Jaswinder to use his powers? What would the optimal power level and minimal safe distance be at that power level? Excluding just killing anyone who manifested powers, how could society cope, use, or incorporate individuals with magic?

Non-logical would seem to be true randomness; if it is following a distribution there aren't enough observations to determine what it is separate from being uniformly distributed among all possible outcomes that could ever happen with that amount of matter-energy. Assume no anti-matter is produced.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A 'non-logical effect' is illogically vague, if, logically speaking, you want us to provide answers that make sense. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 25 '15 at 1:54
  • $\begingroup$ edited the question, truly random across the state space of all possible outcomes of that amount of matter-energy in that amount of space. $\endgroup$ – John_H Mar 25 '15 at 2:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So I can get a cat, a sex-change, a fireball, 13 tapdancing lemmings, or 5 gold rings? $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 25 '15 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ Those have equal probability of happening assuming they require equal energy to happen as anything else that could happen. $\endgroup$ – John_H Mar 25 '15 at 2:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have withdrawn my close vote. I encourage others to do the same. This is now a promising question. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 25 '15 at 2:37

The limits of Jaswinder's powers are, as I understand it:

  • 1000 kilograms worth of energy, though not antimatter (spoilsport!)
  • effects within 1 km radius (though the effect could be a point or a 1km sphere)
  • the effect is not logical

The key is how one interprets "not logical;" here are three possibilities:

"Doesn't follow the logical rules of the universe"

Picture, if you will, a circular target with three rings. The center of the target is a stable object. It will probably be a lump, or dust, or something else with no recognizable shape, but at least it will exist. The second, much larger ring is radioactive matter; if Jaswinder makes anything with some sort of mass, it's probably going to be radioactive, because none of the atoms will have the right number of protons, neutrons, or electrons to be stable. The outside ring is energy; whatever Jaswinder's magic produces, it either decays quickly, or was simply energy to begin with. Finally, if the target is missed completely, the thing that is created can't exist in our universe, to the point of not actually interacting with the universe.

When Jaswinder uses his powers, it is equivalent to standing at the opposite end of the universe and throwing a dart at random. While it's possible that he creates something, or makes a burst of raw energy, the overwhelming chances are that whatever he creates will never interact with the universe at all. In other words, if Jaswinder used his ability all day, every day, by the end of his life, he will probably not have more than a single observable effect to his name.

"Completely random"

This one is much more exciting, as it actually makes Jaswinder into a bomb, though not a reusable one. Given any configuration of sub-atomic matter or energy, most of the time the "matter" Jaswinder creates will be nothing more than stray electrons, protons, neutrons, or raw energy. The energy and matter would be scattered around Jaswinder in a 1 km sphere. The random matter would mostly be free sub-atomic particles, which will wreak havoc on matter.

The fact that Jaswinder survives the explosion would be great, except there's a pretty good chance that the ground Jaswinder was standing on would be vaporized or otherwise destroyed, leaving him to plummet into a hole that will be as deep as 1 km.

If Jaswinder wants to survive, he would have to calculate how much energy he should draw to be able to fry the area around him without damaging the ground he is standing on. Of course, he doesn't know if the energy will be evenly spread around the 1 km sphere, or piled in a tiny point just under his feet.

"Random, but recognizable"

Unlike the previous two answers, here Jaswinder's power creates something that not only can exist, but is recognizable. When he uses his powers, he creates an object somewhere in a 1 km sphere that weighs between 0 and 1000 kg. The object could be anything: a bubble of hydrogen, a 1000 kg gold statue of his grandmother, 100 dead mice, an exact living duplicate of Elvis, or a two-story-tall supercomputer; what it is shaped like, what it is made of, and whether it is organic, inorganic, living, dead, or somewhere in between is completely at random. Oh, and it appears anywhere within 1 kg of our "hero".

At first, that ability would be really cool; he would summon a gold statue nearby, and a wind-up robot that can talk. Of course, it wouldn't be long before he also calls up a perfect copy of his grandmother 1 km above his head, a cute puppy embedded in his bedroom door, 500 kg of raw sewage into his house, and 100 kg of spiders in his own bed.

Jaswinder would not want to use his power. Random is bad.


Well, I can see two different uses right off the bat.

The first, send him into the enemy lines and let him blow off steam over there, it would be a terrible blow to anyone trying to attack. But he would need to have a secret Identity or he would be assassinated pretty quickly, maybe only get one chance...

The other would be to crate some kind of containment to convert the released energy into power to be used for other things. Beyond that?

  • $\begingroup$ What if the non-logical magic deviously generates advanced weapon blueprints on the desk of the enemy general. It would be quite non-logical. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 25 '15 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @SerbanTanasa That kind of random? Send off to an uninhabited area and watch him from a safe distance. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Mar 25 '15 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ Dunno what a safe distance is for a 9e19 J walking bomb. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 25 '15 at 2:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SerbanTanasa you should have some idea after he discovers his 'talent', by being one of the survivors... ;) $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Mar 25 '15 at 2:03

This is a great start, but you can't leave it at that. If you can get any material thing within a mass range with equal probability (mass-wise, atom-wise?) you're getting either:

  • A bunch of hydrogen, with a few atoms of heavier elements (if atom-wise probabily distro reflects that of the universe)
  • A (most likely supercritical) radioactive pile (if uniformly distributed across all possible nuclear isotopes)

Neither is particularly plot friendly, unless you like fizzle or pop. What you need is what I'll call a probability scaffold. This is a tool that, when provided the first atom-equivalent electron-Volts of energy, uses it or discards it (returning it to the magical fount, hopefully) if unsuitable, then moves on to the next, and the next and the next. Depending on the abilities of the magical probablity scaffolder, you can generate simple objects like a bar of solid gold or if you're good, complex and otherwise impossible to build three dimensional structures.

  • $\begingroup$ I see now where you got your inspiration for the Rynn questions $\endgroup$ – Aaru Mar 29 '15 at 22:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.