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Superhumans in my setting work based on advanced technology (but not clarketech; no violations of physical laws, no FTL).

My question is, how can a superhuman direct electricity?

From my understanding of electricity, it moves in the easiest path it can take. Air, for instance, retards the motion of electricity until the energy level reaches lightning level. But I need electrokinetics to be able to move electricity at their command. No psychic powers exist, but nanotech and neurological modification are two paths I can see possibilities in.

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    $\begingroup$ "Electricity moves in the easiest path it can take": this a misconception. Electricity flows through all the paths that it can. All of them. The intensity of the current on each path is inversely proportional to the resistance of the path. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 3 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ Use CRISPR to splice in some genes from an electric eel. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 3 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ But in all seriousness, it looks like you don't really know what electricity is. I'm guessing you want to build up a large charge (lots of electrons) and force them to follow a discharge path to your target. The answers provide reasonable solutions for that. But keep in mind that you'll need a decent voltage as well as lots of coulombs-worth of charged particles. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 3 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I am aware of what electricity is. You are correct in what I want it to do, though. $\endgroup$ – Ushumgallu Jul 4 at 17:37
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If you are looking for someone who can just direct an electrical jolt to a specific location, electrolaser tech is probably the right starting point. Your super human could project a very brief but very powerful laser to ionize the air. This then acts as a conductor for your blast of electricity.

It will not give as much control as Paul TIKI's nanobot idea for doing things like arcing your lightning around things, but it will have a much better range, and you won't have to wait for your nanoswarm to get into place before firing.

At current tech levels, such weapons are rather bulky, but future tech may be able to miniaturize this to some sort of subdermal implant, gauntlet, or maybe even a very specifically bio-engineered organ; though, the last option is a bit handwavy IMO.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would almost wonder, if you you have a laser strong enough to do this, would you really need to follow the burn of a laser with a bolt of electricity? I guess it depends on what you want to destroy. Also, excellent method to increase range $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Jul 8 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ The laser only needs to exist for a fraction of second to create an "ion wire"; so, while it is a strong laser, it uses very little power. Since, lasers are notoriously wasteful methods of doing damage compared to electrocution, you save power in terms of killing potential. Also, you can't stun someone with a laser by just lowering the power which gives electro lasers the advantage of versatility as well. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 8 at 18:28
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Set things up to be a 2 phase deployment.

Since you are open to Nanotech and Neurological mods, have it work like this:

Nano bots, controlled by neurological signals, produce a long, thin extension from the controllers hand. These nanites are going to have a conductive shell for the electricity to follow. They may or may not have some sort of filament trailing behind them. They launch and make contact to the target, creating a path for the electricity. If need be, a bit of extra effort may go into creating a path for the electricity to get to the ground.

Then, electricity, from an array of supercapacitors, discharges along the path created by the nanites. The amount of current will likely vaporize the physical path as the discharge happens, but that should be okay as the path through the air should already be established for a secondary blast, kind of like lightening following the same path on a secondary flash.

You are going to have a fairly short range, and burning up the mass of nanites is going to probably going to give you a limited amount of discharges. Also, your superhero costume should probably have really thick rubber souls and should not be worn in the rain.

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    $\begingroup$ As regards rubber costumes, I think the electric hero will have to look like The Gimp from Pulp Fiction. Really no way around that I can imagine. Also move around like The Gimp and sleep in a steamer trunk. Unfortunate but necessary. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jul 3 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Chain mail might also be a part of the design. Nothing like walking around in your own personal Faraday cage. Chain-mail and rubber, because chain-mail chafes. But you'd still have to sleep in the steamer trunk, because reasons. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Jul 3 at 19:27

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