Imagine a device that forms a spherical electromagnetic barrier around an average human, and rapidly shrinks until its approximately the volume of a volley ball. What would be the aftermath other than a dead person? (would heat inside the ball increase? would it become a solidified mass of organic tissue?) would such a weapon be used for things other than execution, like a military weapon or for industrial use? The device is roughly 2 meters tall and weights approximately 100 kilograms.

Note- the barrier is capable of exerting compressing force akin to one billionth of the power of XTE J1650-500

  • $\begingroup$ Can this machine apply enough force to reduce the atomic radii? Because otherwise you'll not be able to to press the volume of a human that small. Under normal circumstances liquids and solids are only minimally compressable $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ the title says volley ball, the body soccer ball... that apart, what are you looking for? Aftermath apart death? What is it? Funeral? mourning? stock plunge? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica, the size isn't actually an issue, both are standard "size 5" balls, along with water polo balls, canoe polo balls and others. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


The closest real world example you are most likely to find is when an old diving suit with metal helmet fails under pressure. Here demonstrated by the mythbusters. Other than that, the body will probably freeze at a temperature much higher than boiling water. As here explained you would end up with a frozen ball of bone and blood, at a fairly high temperature. When released, boiling blood is likely to splash everywhere (depending on the speed of the release). Basically you could turn humans into boiling blood grenades with bone shrapnel.

  • $\begingroup$ Thi might happen, but you'll still have something much larger than a volleyball. In order to get that much mass to compress into that volume, I think you'd necessarily wind up with something closer to neutronium. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 18:19

It's probably not possible
Humans are approximately water, which doesn't compress very nicely.

An average humans weighs ~75kg so has an approximate volume of 75L; a volley/soccer ball has a volume of 4-6L. You're attempting to compress it by a factor of >10 which isn't really in the realm of normal physics. For comparison the compression of water at bottom of the ocean is about 2%, so you'd need to achieve >500x that.


EDIT: Ice phases

As mentioned in the comment different ice phases possible for solid water. The best information I could find suggests that these can be up to ~2.5x compression; and these exotic forms are are the cutting edge of modern physics: http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/ice_phases.html

You'll need several times that to make your device work.

EDIT: miscalculation - you probably won't end up with nuclear fusion.

  • $\begingroup$ If the field has enough compressive force, you might be able to create pressure ices, but even those won't compress more than a few percent. Beyond that, it's matter degeneracy. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. Normal human runs appr. 2.5 cubic feet after squashing the lungs and sinuses. That 2.5x compression is very close to being small enough. Make it a basketball and you'd be there (assuming the bones don't bollix the deal). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon 2.5x is a lot of compression, but we need 10-15x here, that's multiples more than is possible for water. However it's about as dense as metals, so clearly not entirely impossible to reach if we can force some metallic bonding in there. My physics isn't good enough to really understand how you can make metallic hydrogen/oxygen though... $\endgroup$
    – David258
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. Guess I was mis-visualizing the size of a volleyball. We'd need a medicine ball or so to get a cubic foot and be close to 2.5x. I doubt pure compression can produce metallic hydrogen even if our, um, sample wasn't 1/3 oxygen by mole -- I seem to recall labs having to chill their diamond anvils a lot. And even then there's reason to believe metallic hydrogen would be much less dense than, say, iron (and never mind osmium). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 16:08


You'll probably generate enough heat and pressure to transform your test subject into a blazing ball of fusion plasma.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm curious how you get from room temperature water (near enough) to fusion plasma at several times water density. Fusion plasma is normally very low density, even compared to air. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon guess what happens in the sun. Gravitation pressure compresses matter to a point where the thermal energy exceeds the repelling forces of nuclei, the result an extremely dense plasma that fuses to heavier elements. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 16:08

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