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I am Dante, a badass alchemist who has the desire to rule the world.The law of equivalent exchange states that for anything to be gained, something of equal value must be lost. This is the fundamental rule of alchemy. The philosophers stone is an item that allows alchemists to bypass this rule in order to perform unlimited transmutations. With this stone, an alchemist can become a literal god among his peers. I have discovered that the secret ingredient to making these stone are human lives. Rather than doing the hard work to abduct subjects, I have used a simpler process that can provide unlimited sacrifices: the human reproductive process.

The process works best during the third trimester, when the soul of the child is fully formed. By transmuting the life of my unborn child, I can create a stone inside of myself, allowing access to god like power. The power gained from the stone is temporary however, and declines with repeated use, forcing me to perform this process to create more. Waiting nine months to create another stone is long and inconvenient, so I have decided to outsource this process to artificial wombs.

Children are gestated to the appropriate time, then used as sacrifices to create the stone. This allows me to create hundreds of stones at once, saving me time and effort. However, I have discovered that keeping these items in the same place creates a problem. For whatever reason, they react to each other and cause instability in the other. This can lead to a large explosion which destroys everything in the vicinity, including the other pods. To prevent this, the gestating fetuses must be placed in separate locations.

How can these stones in the same proximity cause this reaction in each other?

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To prevent rebellion!

when the soul of the child is fully formed

Each stone is a soul! The soul of an innocent who was murdered just before birth and then imprisoned in a cold, dead vessel so it can be consumed!

When prisoners can communicate, they can cooperate to overthrow their captor. By contrast, a prisoner who is kept in a sensory deprivation chamber may not even be able to discern the prison. Hell, they may not even be able to form thoughts because they can have no language.

The stones must be kept far enough apart that the souls contained within are not able to sense each other, which deprives them of the mental or psychic foothold necessary to recognize their imprisonment, identify a comrade, and work to overthrow their oppressor.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer because it fits the narrative, that is not very scientific in the first place, better than the (very plausible, but less magical/fantastic) answers that use nuclear physics. $\endgroup$ – Guenterino Jan 29 at 9:10
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Transmutation of elements, objects of power becoming dangerously unstable when put in close proximity? Magic rock becoming less powerful over time, especially after use?

That'll be neutron radiation produced by fission and fusion.

You probably haven't really noticed, or cared, about the way that plants around you just wither away and die, and why your junior apprentices and house servants somehow don't last very long. There's a trick that all (surviving) alchemists learn to protect themselves from the side effects of their own powers, but it takes time to develop this trick and if you haven't already done so by the time you come into close proximity of an active philosopher's stone then you'll probably just suffer from fatal radiation poisoning.

With two active stones in close proximity, the radiation from one is transmuting the substance of the other, and vice-versa, rapidly depleting their usefulness. Get em close enough and you might even briefly manage to achieve criticality, which it sounds like you've managed to do... it is a wonder that you survived the process. You'd see the same effect to a much less degree if you spent any time around other working alchemists as the effects of their (much less powerful) transmutations would wear away your philosopher's stone, too. Of course, you are so obnoxious and have such a terrible reputation for everyone around you developing hideous and fatal illnesses that most of your peers stay well away so the issue never arose.

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If you want a slightly more science-y perspective than the other answers, read this.

The transmutations alter the laws of physics in their vicinity.

From the perspective of users, transmutation consists of "you pop a gram of lead into the philosopher's stone, and out pops a gram of gold." However, it isn't quite that simple in reality.

What actually happens is that the lead is sent to a different dimension, displacing an equivalent amount of gold which appears in ours. An unfortunate side-effect of this process is that the extra-dimensional gold brings some of the physical laws pertaining to its universe along with it, causing the laws of physics in a philosopher's stone's vicinity to change. While this does not have any normally noticeable effect, it does slightly change quantum probability.

Due to their construction every philosopher's stone ("PS") is "tuned" to a different dimension. As a result, the imported physical laws are slightly different between stones.

Now, remember those "slight changes to quantum probability" I mentioned earlier? Well, when two stones come in close proximity those "slight" differences clash, causing quantum probability to get all wonky. Now, quantum probability is the driving force behind physics, so the end result is that a Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy-style Improbability Field forms, causing all sorts of unfortunate things to happen.

“Ford... you're turning into a penguin. Stop it.”

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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Soul-space/astral realm energy depletion (or whatever you want to call the place souls are from)

When a soul forms, it is linked with its representation on the astral plane. For example, if you look at someone with "astral vision", you can see their soul overlaid onto material reality.

The problem with the philosopher's stone formation process is that it effectively "rips" a hole in the local astral space. Effectively, you're decoupling the soul of the child from the astral space and cramming it into a rock which is damaging for astral topology. Now, normally this isn't too big an issue. People with souls can still travel through and be alive in places that have suffered astral damage (although they might feel unwell), however new souls can't be formed or don't form properly at that location. This means that any baby attempting to develop a soul in a damaged area will have difficulties doing so and the soul that's formed will be weak or twisted.

If enough damage is caused to the astral plane at a specific location before it can repair or regrow itself, the barrier between the astral plane and the material reality at that location can tear and release a large amount of chaotic energy into the area (an explosion).

Coincidentally, this can also be used to explain why some areas are "cursed". "Cursed" locales have simply suffered from a lot of astral damage in the past which means that any soul-formation in that area is going to go wrong and people will feel unwell traveling through it. For example, a "cursed" forest might have strange trees and animals.

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Three body problem and stable systems

When two bodies orbit one another, if no external forces are applied, their orbit will remain stable and predictable. When a third body is added to the system, the system becomes unstable and even more so if a fourth variable is introduced.

Those stones of yours are like this. If you could observe the magical energy around them, you would see the orbits of two powerful sources of magic. These sources and their energies are attracted by a force similar to gravity and they pass through physical matter without interacting with it. When the stone is used, both sources are drained equally and as such balance remains. But when a second stone is brought close, the orbits become irregular. And if the interference is strong enough, those magical energies collide. Now the energy which used to be tapped into by the alchemist is released in random bursts and at times, explosively.

In addition, if the stones are imperfect, their orbits would decay. This wouldn't be destructive as the merging of energies would happen slowly, but these imperfect stones would be easier to notice by others and their energy would run out even if they weren't used.

This would also explain the connection between alchemy and astronomy as the orbits of stellar objects and the underlying laws are similar.

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