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I have a monster in mind (based on something I saw in a dream) that is blind and deaf but finds prey by sensing faint electrical currents. It uses naturally generated plasma bursts to enhance electrical currents of potential prey, in much the same way that an IR light can be used to increase visibility when using night vision goggles / scopes / etc. In the dream, this looked like a burst that rapidly flooded an area.

My questions are...

a.) is this feasible as is (if so, how might this actually work / appear)?

b.) if not, how could it be made to work / what similar methods might work?

Caveat: the method is for detection / sensory enhancement only, and must be non-lethal

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  • $\begingroup$ There’s no such thing as non-superheated plasma $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, forgot how physics work in my excitement $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ Not entirely correct, there's non-equilibrated plasma, There may be an answer yet. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroreception exists in some living organisms but is very short ranged and discharging plasma doesn't help because it drowns out the very signal the creature is trying to detect. Sensing electric current does not resemble IR illumination in any way; you're thinking of radar. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ Just an FYI, on this site accepting an answer immediately is not considered good form, even if you really like an answer. People from all over the world contribute here, and the answer you accept may be superceded by a better answer later on. In general, waiting 24-48 hours is the accepted norm. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 15:40

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... uses naturally generated plasma bursts to enhance electrical currents of potential prey, in much the same way that an IR light can be used to increase visibility when using night vision goggles / scopes / etc.

This won't work. IR light is reflected from objects, and will increase visibility if you're using IR vision systems (it doesn't do any good if you're using visible-spectrum photomultiplier systems). Your creature is trying to detect the electric fields generated by its prey, which will be swamped by the electric fields of a plasma discharge.

And while you have the hard-science tag on your question, that's the whole answer. If you want something that sounds scientific and is to be accepted as technobabble, change the tags. For a science plausibility scale, almost nothing in Star Trek or Star Wars meets the hard-science standard, and most of what's in them fails like entering a clown car in a Formula 1 race.

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Humidity.

Humid air conducts electricity better than dry air. This is why static shocks are more problematic when humidity is low - humid air bleeds off the charge and prevents it from accumulating.

Rather than plasma, the burst that "rapidly flooded the area" is water. I could imagine a spray of very fine droplets would greatly enhance detection of electrical fields in the area. Salty solution would be better yet because salty solutions are better conductors. The droplets themselves would help and because of the small size they would quickly evaporate and raise local humidity to 100%.

The idea of a predator flooding the area with a salty Bronx cheer is terrifying.

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