I'm working on a character able to manipulate nitrogen to his will, changing it's physical properties (like temperature, velocity and such) and making it bond to other atoms or molecules. Now, this got me thinking of the powers this magical ability would grant the character: the good old ice and fire combo (liquid nitrogen and nitroglicerine), bettering the soil for plant growth...

Of course his powers would be limited to his knowledge, to how much physics and chemistry he knows. This may be a big limitation since I'm no expert in neither, but that isn't the post's topic.

With great power comes great responsibility and potential for destruction, the destruction of life. In other words: the creation of death. The character could always cool or heat the nitrogen around an enemy in order to kill them, he could also concentrate nitrogen around the enemy's head so he suffocates, make the floor bellow them explode if the conditions are met, or even turn the water inside their body into acid (gruesome, I know), but...

What would happen if he displaced the nitrogen inside the opponent's body? If suddenly the nitrogen of the opponent's amino acids detached from the molecules. Say he pulled this move on the enemy's arm, what would happen to it? It seems to me like the aminoacids would turn into ionized molecules of acetic acid. What would happen if he did this to their hearth or their brain? Furthermore, how about detaching the nitrogen, not from the aminoacids, but from other thing... say, their DNA. What about then? Would the affected cells instantly die? Would this cause some weird cancer that'd kill the opponent slowly? Possibilities are endless and probably very disturbing!

What I'm asking for are possible consequences to these actions. Please do tell if you come up with some other power the character may have because of his ability!

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    $\begingroup$ Looks like you already figured what would happen if all nitrogen is removed - the organ will turn into an nitrogen-less organic goo. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Apr 29, 2021 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander well, yes, but from what I understand amino acids are the base of proteins. With the nitrogen gone would the proteins be able to hold shape? Would they just fall apart into some weird slime? They also take a part on nerve transmission. How much of a part though? Would removing the nitrogen from a nerve plainly render it useless or would it make for a weirder, more interesting interaction? $\endgroup$ Apr 29, 2021 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ Immediate, instantaneous death. Proteins require their nitrogen. Without proteins, you are not even a pile of dead flesh, you are just a pile of....schtuff. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 30, 2021 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


Flesh puddle

Nitrogen is an integral element of nucleotides, which make up DNA and RNA. Cells wouldn't die instantly without DNA; on the shortest timescale and among other things, DNA is a template for RNA, which in turn is a template for protein. This individual's body now lacks not only the templates for transcription and translation, but also the ribosomes themselves, so nothing new will get synthesized.

Since it makes up ~78% of the atmosphere, the lungs will mostly evacuate, which will cause a large influx of air through their nose. If this doesn't happen quickly enough, they might experience some minor internal bleeding as the other organs squish inwards.

Unfortunately, there won't really be any organs left, which includes the skin. Proteins are held together by peptide bonds, so they would entirely dissociate into individual amino acids. While this has all sorts of complications within cells, the real problem is the dissolution of the extracellular matrix, which is composed largely of (protein) collagen fibers. Without the ECM to give structure to or anchor our cells, they'd flow freely like the mostly-liquid they are.

  • $\begingroup$ With bones in it, since those are mostly calcium. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Apr 30, 2021 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Mary All the osteoplasts/blasts are going melt too, which'll mostly leave the lamellae of compact bone. You're right that they'll still be there, but they'll be pretty fragile and porous like a dried sponge $\endgroup$ Apr 30, 2021 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ Death would follow immediately needless to say $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Apr 30, 2021 at 13:58

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