I searched the site and found answers saying hard light can't exist. Apparently in the three years since the last question was asked, scientists started making inroads on making solid light a reality, though I'm playing with it on a larger, more science-fiction scale. What I'm looking for is how to create a sort of hard(solid/physical)-light Frankenstein that can do what I need it to do.

In my world are hard light "mesas" that cover miles of ground, tower into the sky, and no one knows how deep they go into the earth. They look like light but feel hard to the touch and are near impossible to get inside. They are hollow, the shells acting as "cages" for the land inside.

Inside the mesas, evolution happens more rapidly, genetic mutations are more common, and nature acts pretty much like she's a coed going through her experimental phase at college. However, the same can't be said for the outside--if any evolutionary anomalies occur, they're slower and either rarer or more likely to be killed off by the established order.

Something about the mesas also interferes with our most commonly used waves--radio, television, digital anything, and cell--even a cordless phone too far from it's handset would have trouble because of the powerful interference they put off. Satellites are likely to have a hard time as well.

After doing some poking about at elements that could disrupt communications and cause genetic mutations, I came up with a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun. I don't need anything near that powerful, but I noticed part of the reason it doesn't effect earth as badly as it could is our ionosphere. But if a similar, (much) lower level event happened inside the ionosphere, in fact, on ground level, it could do what I want it to both inside and outside the "cage." I looked into if high enough exposure to these elements could cause DNA mutations and found it could, though it was mostly tracked in terms of cancer. But if a baby in womb is exposed to it, it stands to reason it could lead to mutations, or a cascade of them over successive generations, assuming the successful survival of the offspring.

So my working theory--and I could be way off base with this, is as follows:

Since the "cage is enclosed, the buildup of electromagnetics and ionizing radiation is significantly higher; anything not dying from exposure mutates. If that's not enough I'm willing to have a third element, even a hypothetical unknown "Element X," at play inside these things stabilizing the health of the living organisms trapped within so the focus can be on the mutations. I mean, if it won't break believably or the story. However, I'm trying not to do that.

The outside doesn't suffer from having these elements trapped, so they're able to dissipate out over wide distances, doing little damage. But an unfortunate side effect is disrupting communication and electronics, causing a "technological slowdown" that has kept humans using wires and cords and caused technologies like cell phones and wireless radio broadcasting to be less viable.

I suppose my big question is if this theory works, and if not, the best ways I might fix it to get my desired results? This is a sort of science-fiction concept, so I am willing to work with theories as well as current facts.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not an expert, but scanning over the paper cited by that article, these properties of light seem to last for mere nanoseconds. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Jul 30, 2019 at 1:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You ask for a lot in the question and it seems much less science-fiction than scifi-fantasy. I think the best answer you may get is unobtanium. Sometimes, the difficult-to-explain sorts of things in a story are best left unexplained, the gap accommodated for by reeling story material. $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    Jul 30, 2019 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ Deja vu. I swear you literally just asked this exact question. $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2019 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ No, I asked a question without the theory of what was happening in the mesas, making it opinion-based and a terrible question. I followed someone's advice to do more research and make it more specific, and deleted the question in the meantime because I thought it would take me a while. I wound up brainstorming with a friend and we found some possibilities--if I'd known I'd have a potential solution so soon, I would have just left the thing and edited it. That part was my bad. :P $\endgroup$
    – Firelocke
    Jul 30, 2019 at 1:53
  • $\begingroup$ Instead of deleting and reposting, you can use the edit function. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jul 30, 2019 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


Your premise might work better if your mesas were magnetically contained plasma rather than hard light.

There's a compelling argument that the famous light sabres of Star Wars fame are really plasma weapons, with the superheated plasma being contained in a magnetic containment field of some sort. This has its own issues with suspension of disbelief, like how does the sword cut through a bulkhead or metal door as it does on board the trade ship in Episode 1? But generally speaking, having an energy sword of fixed length is easier to achieve with magnetically contained plasma, rather than light which is notoriously non-compliant about just stopping a certain distance away from the emitter. Photons fired from a laser emitter just keep going in the direction they're sent. They don't just disappear a certain way out from the emitter because that would make a cool weapon.

So too I suspect with your mesas. Imagine (if you will) that they are in fact magnetic containment fields that are shaped the way they are because they repel each other, keeping the walls relatively straight in close proximity. Not sure what to do about a plateau but it's possible there is some other effect in place that forces that shape. If the containment field is in fact a form of cage, then the plasma, that gives the mesas their light show, could be contained between the outer shell and a similarly shaped inner shell.

Thing is, there is a bit of research that is being conducted that shows that there might be some damage or mutation to DNA and cells as a result of constant exposure to magnetic fields. If this indeed turned out to be the case, then the world around the mesas (and in them) could easily lead to accelerated mutation, whereas those outside the regions where they exist would proceed at a more regular pace, at least for the parameters of the planet in terms of solar radiation and protection therefrom via the magnetosphere of the planet.

Ultimately, the idea here is that if the mesas are plasma containers they would be far stronger than the planet's core magnetosphere meaning that they are likely to have a bigger impact on the mutation of species therein. Of course, the devil is always in the detail and more information would be needed before it could be assessed as truly plausible or not.

  • $\begingroup$ To work with what this answer stated: have you considered using a obsidian-like material structured like stacks of carbon nanotubes or graphene? This can allow at least the impression of being 'hard light', without actually literally being solid light. $\endgroup$
    – arpanet101
    Jul 30, 2019 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ To add to that comment above - the material channels light to make it glow, and the density of the material at different layers influences the colors seen from outside as well as the telecommunications disruptions. $\endgroup$
    – arpanet101
    Jul 30, 2019 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ Tim B II, does the plasma have to be hot, or can it just be solid? I am working with making a "weak point" where one can enter or leave, or at least make something that can force a doorway. $\endgroup$
    – Firelocke
    Aug 1, 2019 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Firelocke well there is such a thing as cold plasma (it's currently being researched as a decontamination agent as I recall) but given that plasma is a state of matter, then no; plasma can't be solid per se. But, the trick for your weak point in this model is the magnetic field; use a strong magnetic field generator (like in an MRI) in close proximity to your mesa to create a temporary disruption that acts like a turtle shell for your intrepid explorers to walk through the mesa wall. You might get a little plasma loss but your explorers will be inside their own shell. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Aug 1, 2019 at 0:33

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