I am currently working an a magic system that involves Photokinesis. However, I am having difficulty understanding its limits and its capabilities.

Visual example

The best definition for this type of magic comes from Fandom:

Light Manipulation - The user can create, shape and manipulate visible light, commonly referred to as light, is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight.

Primary properties of visible light are intensity, propagation direction, frequency or wavelength spectrum, and polarization, while its speed in a vacuum (299,792,458 meters per second/186,000 MPS) is one of the fundamental constants of nature. Visible light, as with all types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), is experimentally found to always move at this speed in a vacuum.

In common with all types of EMR, visible light is emitted and absorbed in tiny "packets" called photons and exhibits properties of both waves and particles. This property is referred to as the wave–particle duality. The study of light, known as optics, is an important research area in modern physics.

The area I am having an issue with is how any kind of light can affect matter, like a small rock.

Question: Can light manipulate matter in any other way beyond its temperature? Can light move matter, like it does with DC's Green Lantern's ring?

The capabilities and limitations of this Magic ability are important to me, because the magic system I am making is supposed to follow the laws of physics as closely as I can make it.

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    $\begingroup$ Technically a Green Lantern's Ring does not make light. Or at least it does not just make light. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, the manipulation of light is what i'm trying to make sense of. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ Are you restricted to just visible wavelengths of light (for some reason), or can you manipulate all EMR? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ The restrictions are currently undefined. However I want to limit the users ability to intersect with EMR...somehow. The reason being that I'm also trying to develop an electrokenisis system as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ Green Lantern's power ring works more like mind over matter run on GL's will power. The green light is merely a special effect. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 12:12

3 Answers 3


Given enough light, enough protection, and the right conditions, light can move objects. Consider the solar sail, which can move objects not unlike a sail boat. Or any of the questions asked on this site about laser ploughs (laser trains/freight/etc), where a substantial laser beam is used to move cargo.

It's worth remembering that all electromagnetic radiation is photonic. Or, said another way, it's all light. Radio waves are a form of light.

So, yes, it's "doable" (in that we can mathematically model the theories... none of this is reality). However, considering the affect of the solar wind on Earth's magnetosphere, it's not beyond belief.

Keep in mind that you're trying to develop a magic system, which is 100% fictional, and keep it as closely related to physics as possible. We get these questions from time to time. Obviously, magic having nothing at all to do with physics, there's ony so much you can do to achieve this goal. Remember to be flexible and creative. Your story is often more about how well you write or present your ideas than it is how fact-based it is.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the advice. I'll keep that in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ Well, actually, it's not just theory. Solar sails have been demonstrated. See IKAROS. While there's, obviously, a long way to go to using solar sails routinely, it's at least a step beyond just theory. $\endgroup$
    – Makyen
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 3:38
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    $\begingroup$ Fascinating, that means that light based telekinesis would only be logically used if the objects in question were built and designed for it. I can imagine construction materials with pinpointed lifting points to enable the user to grip them with light manipulation and lift them into the air, given enough light energy. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ keep in mind if the material is not very reflective it will get very hot instead of moving. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 0:04

There are recent discoveries that points to the possibility of photons interacting with each other to form "bounds", so hard-light may not be too far fetched.

It’s a glimpse of science fiction made fact: Scientists have created a new form of light that could someday be used to build light crystals.

Does this photokenisis extend to only visible light, or does any EMR count? There are many uses of radio waves, for example. You could interfere with communications or see through walls (this video explain how X-ray vision wouldn't work, but WiFi radio vision would). With infrared, you could get thermal and night visions.

Depending on how closely related to electricity this all is, photokenisis and electrokinesis could be essentially the same power, but I don't know if you want those two to be separate entities.

If all else fails, photokinectics could be walking flashlights and flash-bangs.

Edit: After researching more about the topic, like Logan said, 'light crystals' are not actually solid. I should warn you, there are many "scientific" articles out there that made the same mistake as I did when describing a light crystal, so always check for the source. Hopefully the article was still helpful to you.

  • $\begingroup$ All forms of light apply. the hosts that use this power can also see and draw from nearly all types of radiation. However, I do want to keep this magic seperate from eletrokenisis, since I want to develop that as well. So, my magic systems still need work. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the link, this really helps my research $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ That article does not mean what you seem to think it means. A "light crystal" is absolutely nothing like Star-Trek-esque "hard light". It doesn't create a static structure, let alone a solid one that you could pick up or push on. It's just a self-ordering arrangement of photons that occurs due to their being passed through a particular medium (in this case, a cloud of rubidium gas). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 0:28

Pulse laser powered propulsion has been around for a while aspects going back to the 1950s.

For the Lightcraft to work lasers or masers (microwave versions of the same thing) are focused:

to heat the air at an extremely high temperature up to 30,000 degrees, transforming it in a plasma that violently expands .... acting as an external pulse detonation engine producing thrust.

Emphasis mine.

I see no reason that your characters could not work hard on their ability and learn to create intense focused pulses of light to manipulate objects. Plus there might be a cool TszszszsT sound to accompany it.


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