I have seen in most sci-fi books and flicks about the existence of a special type of alien who is not even made up of standard biological composition, but more of a living mass of energy and information. They are mostly called "Energy Beings", and general properties consist of being intangible, incorporeal and do not have a fixed form. In more fantasy-based terms, they are more or less free spirits or "ghosts".

The general conclusion that I have seen is that such energy beings are made out of bound states of neutrinos. This theory was especially apparent for Stephen Baxter's Manifold, which the Downstreamers are living consciousness made out of neutrinos. It would make sense, really, since neutrinos can phase through light years worth of lead, and can carry information. It is also possible to have bound states of neutrinos through either enhanced weak force interactions or ultra cold temperatures.

However, one thing I am still stumped with is how these beings can have true consciousness, and how they can touch material objects. These are the two questions I need to solve to finally prove its feasibility. Also, if this fails, feel free to have your own theory on how these energy beings are formed.


2 Answers 2


This isn't going to work, for the simple reason that neutrinos can't form bound states.

The weak force can be represented by a Yukawa potential, of the form $$V(r)=-\frac{\alpha}{r}e^{-m_Wr}$$ with $m_W$ the mass of a W boson and $\alpha$ some constant. Given two particles of mass $M$, the criterion for a bound state is that $$\frac{\alpha M}{2m_W}\gtrsim0.8$$ which in turn requires that $m_W\sim M$ - that is, the bound particles must be heavier than the mass of a W boson. Unfortunately, a W boson has a mass of $\sim80\;\text{GeV}$, whereas neutrinos have masses only fractions of an electron volt.

The only way for a bound state to form would be to drastically decrease the mass of a W boson, making the weak force have a significant range compared to its current strength.

One possible way out - and the answer I linked to on Physics does mention this - is to have your particles be WIMPs, weakly interacting massive particles, rather than neutrinos. In our universe, $\sim100\;\text{GeV}$ is a not-too-unreasonable mass for a WIMP, and as we're talking about your universe, bound not by our observations but merely the requirement of self-consistency, it's easy for you to just postulate the existence of WIMPs with the proper mass for a bound state and have your beings be made out of them.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this answer is best suited for physics.se ;D $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jun 21, 2020 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I already mentioned that issue. Talked about "enhanced weak force interactions", but oh boy, did not expect it that the W boson needs to be smaller rather than bigger for this. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2020 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ @CYCLOPSCORE Ah, I thought you meant something else by "enhanced" - glad we were on the same wavelength, so to speak. I guess this answer is a stronger viewpoint on that - I'd argue that those enhancements are likely much more difficult than you'd expect. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Jun 21, 2020 at 3:23

Baxters novels are nice but he always takes this incredible long term view which is just depressing - in the incredible long term everything becomes cold and dark. He invents quark beings which had their time when the universe was a lot hotter; and whose seeds germinate when you light up certain types of engines which operate with these temperatures of old.

He also invents neutrino birds and lots of other beings. Take them for what they are, don't take them too serious. They're like Q in Star Trek: unexplained storyline drivers.

So this is my answer - They are not explainable, but they do their part in the context of the story.

The rest below is just nice to read.

There are some more nice energy beings in other stories which have equally unfeasible physics but which drive their respective storyline equally well.

other energy beings

Commonwealth Series, Peter F. Hamilton

Hamilton let's his humanity discover a way to store information in the sub-quantum-level of physics. They then shrink in size and energy consumption to less than a atom size; while their intelligence and abilities (in the virtual world) grows immensely.

In order to influence the real world, however, they have to clone or manufacture a real body and download a human-sized conciousness into it; which takes away the superintelligence but gives the ability to deal with the real world.

Hamilton mainly uses this storyline device to put some "canned characters" back on the plate hundreds or thousands of years after their real life time, just because he and probably his readers love those characters.

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card Spoiler alert

In the first book (and film) Ender fights a race of beings who live in their interstellar mind connections more than in the real world. In the later books of the series, (spoiler alert) humanity discovers that it is possible to have an entire conciousness living only inside those connections; and that they have their own one which is made up of computer networks (thought) and interstellar connections (soul). There are even more strange beings, but I don't want to go spoil the entire book series.

Orson Scott mainly uses all of this to explore the different possible styles of life, possibilities of "what's that, a soul" and to set some arrogant humans back to their real place in the world. First contact novel, written large.

Warhammer 40k

The "Energy beings" are mostly generated by dreams of psychic active species, live in a separate plane of being or dimension or whatever. They either come through the head of a psyker or they scratch through the walls of a ship during interstellar flight - because faster than light flight is literally through the dimension of nightmares in that background story. Being a wargame, the only thing they do is attack someone or generate unrest so that other species attack each other.

Again, these are mainly style drivers and storyline drivers, and they're great at that.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, Commonwealth sounds like the most sound out of the four of them, for some reason. $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2020 at 5:42

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