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How could matter, or something that behaves similarly to matter, be conjured without absurdly over excessive amounts of energy under following assumptions:

  • energy can be added to the equation at any point due to magic
  • magic can create bonds between "magicised" atoms/molecules (unspecified if it can attract or connect)

And preferably with following properties:

  • should be temporary
  • liquid and solid (or liquid/solid-like) states should be achievable

I've come up with some ideas on how could this work, but had no clue what would be the numbers:

  • Air particles are connected together creating aerogel-like substance
  • Air particles are compressed to denser states

If any of those two examples is any good, I'd really appreciate an explanation with number or at least estimates.

[edit]

Seeing that my mistake of not including more in-depth definitions was a rather significant one, and I'd like to correct it by clarifying some things:

  • definition of word "temporary" in this case is as follows: "as long as there is (magical) energy provided"
  • word "matter" is supposed to represent anything that can be touched, viewed from non-scientific human perspective; opposite of "nothing
  • "conjure" means an action that describes a situation when a state of nothing existing becomes a state of existing of something (object; matter) without any apparent movement of said something from another place.
  • "numbers" include both numerical values and formulas
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    $\begingroup$ It isn't entirely clear what you are asking. Are you wanting conjurers to be able to create matter or change the properties of existing matter (gas to act as a solid)? Instead of giving examples of mechanisms, suggest you give a few examples of what you want your conjurers to be able to do. Create a teacup out of "nothing" that will last long enough to drink a cup of tea? Create a wall for x seconds/minutes/hours that will prevent enemies pursuing down a corridor? $\endgroup$ Jan 12 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 by "conjure" I meant that we go from a state where there is nothing (air counts as nothing here) to the state where there is something. As for the examples, those you've just presented could work. $\endgroup$
    – acki02
    Jan 12 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ Given this is a science-based question for which you are wanting numeric estimates, please edit to give the necessary information. How large a solid/liquid object needs to be created, how long does it need to last (the answer given so far is "temporary", just with a half life of thousands of years) and clarify that are wanting to convert gaseous matter to solid/liquid objects (gases are definitely "matter"). $\endgroup$ Jan 12 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ are you asking for an alternative model to explain "matter"? $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jan 13 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ Your question basically asks, "can matter be made without needing lots of energy, if energy can be freely conjured up by magic", which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. If you're really asking "can I use magic to conjure up matter" then the answer is obviously yes, because the entirety of the magic system is under your direct control and you can do what you like with it. Magical matter be temporary? If that's what you want, you can have it! $\endgroup$ Jan 13 at 9:54

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Nucleus-free electron shells

Matter as we are familiar with it has two main properties:

  1. It has mass
  2. Two objects cannot be in the same place at once

Creating mass requires substantial energy input, but if your mages can manipulate the electromagnetic force at will (a common explanation for "magic", as it would allow pyromancy, levitation, force fields, and a host of other abilities with the notable exception of permanent elemental transmutation) then they can create "false atoms" by generating a positive charge equal to a certain number of protons where they want an "atom" to be.

Said false atoms will have the chemical properties of normal atoms of their respective element and can be bonded together to create larger objects, and they will be "solid" to real atoms just like ordinary matter. However, they will be almost massless, since the vast majority of an atom's mass comes from its nucleus.

Creating a fake atom will require you to get the electrons from somewhere, and releasing the magic will cause the conjured matter to explode into free electrons. Both of these are problems you will need to deal with.

EDIT: If your mages can "borrow" energy from the universe, they might be able to create the electrons themselves via energy-to-matter conversion and "return" it when the spell ends. Technically they could create real atoms this way, but creating only the electrons will allow them to get something almost as good as real matter while manipulating about 1/10,000ths the amount of energy.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Sure, there's violent lightning when I summon the matter, and an explosion when the spell ends, but I'm really just a summoner, not a war-mage or anything." $\endgroup$
    – Jedediah
    Jan 13 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ so, if I understand correctly, such "matter" would behave like a balloon compared to a bowling ball (normal matter)? $\endgroup$
    – acki02
    Jan 13 at 15:38
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The quantum physics concept of a virtual particle should help explain your magic.

A virtual particle is a transient quantum fluctuation that exhibits some of the characteristics of an ordinary particle, while having its existence limited by the uncertainty principle.

As I understand things, a particle and its anti-particle come into existence all the time and disappear due to quantum uncertainty.

In your case

  1. magic causes the quantum fluctuation to make the matter+anti-matter pair appear
  2. magic holds on to the anti-particle. (You may need to handwave how this is done).
  3. object operates normally
  4. magic then let's things go when done
  5. object disappears
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Teleport the necessary atoms from some other location, e.g. deep in the earth, where they won't be missed. When the spell is released, the atoms jump back to their original location, albeit as unbound atoms rather than returning to the compounds they were originally in.

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Pull in objects through the fourth dimension

A 2 dimensional thing that can reach through the third dimension can pluck an object from an adjacent 2 dimensional plane - imagine the 2d planes like stacked sheets of paper.

If your conjuratrix can reach through the fourth dimension to adjacent 3d planes, she can pull objects back from those planes. What exactly they are may vary. But pulling them in and holding them here means exerting a force on them, like holding up an object against gravity. Once that force is no longer opposed, the object will snap back to its own 3d plane.

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Convert nitrogen 14 to carbon 14.

Cosmic rays can convert nitrogen 14 to carbon 14. Magic could do the same. Then you can make structures made of carbon which could do whatever magical stuff does.

However, it's radioactive, so you should dispose of it when you're done, and it tends to break down over time because about 1/6000th of it decays every year.

Carbon is great at making complex structures, unlike nitrogen and oxygen, so this lets you make stuff from the air around you. Each cubic meter of air weighs about a kilo, so you can get a bit over a kilo of stuff from it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be rather permanent in such case? $\endgroup$
    – acki02
    Jan 12 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ If you're willing to leave radioactive waste around that is gonna slowly flake apart as it decays, sure. The polite thing to do would be to remove it, and most spells would include a self destruct function. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Jan 12 at 23:21

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