The basic premise is about a metahuman whose skin always emits large amounts of heat. It's usually around 300-500 F (150-260 C) degrees, but when he gets mad, in pain or in a serious fight, it can reach temperatures of 3000 Fahrenheit (1650 Celsius).

My question is what could he do to get around this problem or cover it up.

Any thoughts, questions or ideas would be greatly welcomed :)

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    $\begingroup$ "Fellow foundry workers, just a reminder that bathroom stall #3 is out of order again because somebody melted the seat and the door handle, and one of the sinks has a broken faucet handle because somebody washed his hands afterward. Oh, and no more paper towels after yesterday's fire - we're installing air-hand-dryers this afternoon. Um, Gary, can I see you for a moment?" $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 11, 2019 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ 👍Your resume is colourful maybe try to tone down (infra)red a little $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Mar 11, 2019 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ 'emits' is very vague. The effects on the super's surroundings depend largely on the emissivity of the super's skin: If it close to one (like coal), paper might catch fire if she brings her 400°C hand near it. If it is near 0 (like polished silver) one could stand beside her without noticing a thing at 1000°C. Also: conductivity. This comes into play if she touches someone - she might be 1500°C hot, and be able to stroke a toddler without ill effects (conductivity near 0 like silica aero gel), or she might be able to sear steaks with 'just' 300°C hands, with conductivity 1000W/(m*K) (diamond) $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Mar 11, 2019 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ I second @bukwyrm's request for the clarification of the emissivity and thermal conductivity of the superhuman's skin. You may also want to add something about the amount of thermal power dissipated by the superhuman. Without these parameters nothing can be said about the superhuman's effect on nearby objects. (Consider for example an ordinary lighter; the flame has a temperature of 1100° C / 2000° F or so, but the generated power is so low that is has just about no effect at more than a few centimeters away.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 11, 2019 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ Mildly amusing that I came here from the Hot Network Questions... $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 20:26

5 Answers 5


The first thing you have to worry about is feeding him.

To generate that much heat, he has to be getting the energy from somewhere. Let's assume that he metabolises energy the same way we do; through food. The average human consumes around 8700Kj to maintain a body temperature of around 37oC, in environments that average around the 25oC mark. Note, this is a MASSIVE simplification, but will help with rough order of magnitude figures.

That means that every day, the human body is using around 725Kj per degree C to maintain the differential. When we do the math, let's make it easy on ourselves and say that the average body temperature our hero maintains is 325oC, or 300o above room temperature. That means that our hero would need to consume 217,500Kj of food each day. He's going to spend all his time eating, and that's not the half of it; he's going to need massive lung capacity to metabolise the food with oxygen, and his biggest problem is going to be getting enough water given that it's going to flash boil as he tries to drink it.

Another problem that you have is that trying to insulate yourself so you can touch others is a REALLY bad idea. With that kind of warm blooded metabolism, even some form of lead lined insulative clothing including shoes and gloves is only going to amplify the problem in that the body can't dispel the heat through normal convection. That means that your body temp is going to climb rapidly, potentially melting down the insulative material and overwhelming it.

Even if he did find a way to have a meaningful and intimate relationship, he can never father children. I always wondered why (not to be indelicate) something as sensitive on the male body like testes were put out in the open so to speak, rather than being more protected inside the body. That is, until I read that male sperm is actually quite sensitive to normal body temperatures and actually start to die off at 37o; presumably this is so that women can't ovulate and be fertilised by 'old' sperm that may have degraded - you only want the fresh stuff. The scrotum is in effect providing a heatsink for them to keep them cool. The problem is at these temperatures, your hero is effectively sterile regardless.

But for the sake of argument...
Ultimately, the best thing your hero could do is go angelic; Imagine a thermal suit that efficiently takes the heat out to a massive heat sink array on his back that would effectively look like metallic wings. This might allow him to touch people with his hands or be around people to his front, with massive heat radiating out from behind him instead.

This would have two practical benefits; the first is that he could have meaningful conversations with friends in a circle around him so to speak, but it would also prevent anyone from ever sneaking up on him from behind.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, thanks for the advice. Ya, I know it essentially "breaks" laws of reality as we know 'em but I just went with the assumption that in his world there's some kinda super handwavium in effect. As for the suit I love it! I can't stop laughing at the image of him talking to some people and as he turns to look at something across the room everyone collectively ducks for cover as he spins around >D $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ I like your take on some of the more bodily and daily life stuff - yeah, having children would be out of it. I'd like to point out that the temperature increase would not be linear though - if you were 200 degrees hotter than your environment, you'd transfer a lot more heat than being about 40 degrees hotter than it, so the eating would be even more ridiculous to think about lol $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ keep in mind that she probably does not conduct and radiate heat as normal skin would - also, at >100°C there is no moisture on her skin, so no cooling from evaporation, either. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Mar 11, 2019 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ Depending on how it works, insulation could be a good answer - if their body doesn't output a relatively constant amount of energy, but instead acts more like a thermostat, insulation would help maintain their temperature, reducing energy (food) usage, while maybe making it easier for them to exist around others. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:18
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    $\begingroup$ I like the note on reproductive biology, but everything else in this guy's body seems to work fine, so it seems like an odd focus. We're already glossing over the fact that his blood would be boiling, his gut microbiome would be nonexistent, and most of the essential proteins in his body would denature far too rapidly to keep him alive (a fever of only 108F can be deadly for this reason). I think we have to assume that his body can handle the heat, and otherwise works like it's supposed to. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 11:04

Being entombed in a power plant is a pretty big problem

Your hero breaks the second law of thermodynamics, and creates more energy than she consumes. Even assuming that he isn't in a government lab, (they gave up on his power as non-reproducible) he's a non-radioactive source of constant heat that has no complex waste products. At 500Fish, he's hot enough to run a powerplant by virtue of his presence: at higher temperatures, which are achievable if he's properly stimulated, things get even better.

Of course, there's the problem of him heating up hotter than practical containment allows for, sometimes, which is, of course, why he's been lobotomized (or sedated permanently). Since he heats up when she's in pain, a low level constant agony would be handy to be able to induce, with an ability to modulate it to increase/decrease how much heat he's putting off.

All in all, being a lobotomized hunk of meat with some kind of subdermal pain inducer for his entire life probably isn't a lot of fun.

  • $\begingroup$ at least if they are lobotomized, they are hopefully beyond caring... hopefully. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Baldrickk The effect of a lobotomy isn't what it's like in the movies. You're still able to feel and, in some cases, you can't even tell the difference. You would not be a vegetable. $\endgroup$
    – forest
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ @forest In this case, lobotomize was just shorthand for “damage the non-brainstem parts of the brain in a way so as to induce calm or catatonia”. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Mar 11, 2019 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Power output would be relatively small, on order of MW, much less that a powerful powerplant requires. $\endgroup$
    – Vashu
    Mar 12, 2019 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Vashnu What makes you say that? $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Mar 12, 2019 at 10:31

For their environment, it depends on time

The question of whether something actually does melt under heat has to do with time - how fast the heat gets in (conduction), and how much it takes (physical properties like specific heat). However, at a certain temperature and pressure, everything will melt. A body of hot mass at temperatures like the sun will always be a plasma - it simply can't deal with the extra motion to form bonds and stay together chemically.

Keeping your cool would keep things ok

At 300 degrees Fahrenheit, not too much will be destroyed. Some rather unexpected substances like wood burn quite a bit hotter, but wood accelerates its own heating when it combusts. So it would mostly be about wearing something light enough and heat-taking that would not interact with objects in the environment too much. I would think wearing something insulating, and not metal, would be better if the temperature is always hot. Otherwise, the metal or material that transfers heat quickly would cause, well, embarrassing losses of heat and probably damage to property.

... but otherwise, get a disability waiver

300F is already too hot to do a lot of things, like touch people or anything with some flammability. It's probably too hot to reliably refrigerate on your body, if that's not somehow dangerous for this person (I doubt a home refrigerator could do that, unless mad-scientist Max made it). On the other hand, 3000 degrees Fahrenheit is quite balmy, and if your meta-human has temper tantrums or gets beat up a lot, and for long enough, they would melt just about anything. As a reference, sand melts at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit (into glass), and there aren't any known substances that survive above something like 5000 degrees Fahrenheit for an indefinite time. Many things will vaporize at 3000F, like Aluminum according to Wikipedia. Your metahuman would be a dangerous foe if they weren't sinking into the ocean or melting concrete fast enough.

As an edit, I guess your metahuman could have a sort of flying superhero MO and then not get anything hot except a plume of air above them. The right suit could do the trick, in theory...

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    $\begingroup$ Love it! Yes, he probably would end up being on some kind of super/mutant/meta disability list (along with the guy that sneezes radiation, the 3 year old that can bend steel with her bare hands and an elderly grandmother who turns everything she touches into glass). I was wondering that if he did go into fighting other metas if he'd just wind up fighting in the nude and I guess this pretty much confirms it. On the bright side (heh see what I did there... ok) he'd probably be burning so brightly that no one'd be able to see his junk. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ sinking into melting ground totally depends on the conductivity and emissivity of the super. If she's conductive as silica aerogel, you could touch her while she's enraged, no problem. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Mar 11, 2019 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ at that heat its entirely possible the Leidenfrost effect might kick in at certain temps. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Mar 11, 2019 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @IT Alex I thought about that. I think that something "ablative" like that would only be good for suits and not for environmental resistance, like walking on water or even just dirt. My limited knowledge of rocket engines tells me suits would be disposable if they didn't have active cooling, and that makes them heavier than a refridgerator I imagine. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm you are right, I had not yet seen your comment on the OP when I posted. I did mention time and conductivity to start because I had the same idea. But this meta would need to be far removed from a natural human and what they would do to get by, the biology of this guy must be totally bizarre to even accommodate this heat anyways. Even silica aerogel melts at 2000 ish F, it would post self harm to a non rock human to be at 3000 F $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 17:02

Containing the heat: cover nakedness and make short interactions possible

At those temps you can't clothe him, so he's always in his birthday suit. And you can't have anyone touch him. When it rains, the water turns to steam as it hits his skin. We'll need to solve that. A carefully manufactured suit (or gloves or shoes) of Aerogel could be used to contain the heat. Aerogel is amazingly heat resistant as well as surprisingly strong. However, it comes with some downsides:

  • Wearing the suit will cause the heat to build up inside, which can be lethal. (think of wearing heavy winter clothes at room-temperature; you can't dissipate the heat fast enough)
  • A suit (probably) prevents minutetactile feedback (ever tried to pick up a penny wearing thick gloves?)
  • It's expensive: manufacturing and maintaining such a suit is not easy.


If he can't feed on metal, he's in trouble. Water will steam. Certain types of oil may suffice for liquid, but that's assuming his body can feed on that. As @TimBII mentions in his answer, food (and intimate touch) are probably not on the table unless he feeds on different foods.

Walking & Transportation

If he can't fly, walking on grass is a very bad idea. He won't be able to walk anywhere without heavy metal or aerogel shoes. He will probably have to live in a remote desert location, and be transported when needed. But any ship, plane, car, or other transportation device will need to consider how to move him quickly without destroying the transport.

Trapping him

At that much heat being generated, especially when he's mad, he's basically a walking energy source. All sorts of bad people and governments would design facilities to house him, but collect and use that heat (eg, to make magnesium or hydrogen) or convert it into electricity.

  • $\begingroup$ For the suit heating up I'm pretty sure that if he can withstand melted steel, he could confidently live in a suit a few hundred degrees (so long as he has air) and for food I was thinking he might be able to eat frozen foods so there's more of a chance of him getting liquid before it steams away. I was thinking he'd be able to fly but only when he can manage to burn hot enough and even then not for longer than an hour or two. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2019 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ Aerogel is brittle. Your proposed suit will shatter the first time the wearer bumps into something. Better to make it out of a suitable aramid fiber and accept that it will vaporize every time the wearer gets angry. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Mar 11, 2019 at 21:54

He/she/zer could wear a foil/thermal suit or a refrigeration suit but physics in this sutuation gets fuzzy and foggy. It may actually hurt the metahuman by means of overheating andor melting down.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site user62244, please take the tour and read up in our help centre about how we work: How to Answer Can you tell us how foil would help? If a refrigeration suit, then where does the heat go? Could you expand on your points? $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 1:38

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