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im writing a story with the purpose of trying to stay within the bounds of realism (in a way), and telekinesis is one of my issues... Basically, I am trying to figure out if there is any way possible to create some kind of tech that allows you to have "telekinetic" like abilities.

My main and I think only plausible idea for a long time now is magnetism? But the issue there I had is would you be able to focus magnetic force with pin point precision, or like it would just pull everything around you that it can in its vicinity?

Please let me know if you need any other info of what I mean or I am not clear enough, and thank you for any answer, much appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Remotely controlled machinery has existed since a long time ago. I don't see how a technician at NASA making a helicopter fly on Mars is not telekinesis. And rich people have had telekinetic abilities since the dawn of time: Jarvis bring me a cup of tea. The question needs to describe in more detail what is the required ability, because in real life ordinary humans have the power to make things move at a distance using various ordinary methods. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ I think I wasn't clear enough, sorry. What I mean is like Magneto or Jean Grey in X-men for example visually, or lets say a kind of glove that allows you to pull to yourself an object from 10 meters away, not you know remotely controlling something with a joystick, but instead be able to lift objects or throw them away with a push of your hand? $\endgroup$
    – Zoltan
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ You just need to attach thin wires to things when no one is looking. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 5:03
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    $\begingroup$ Telekinesis implies providing the force that makes something move, not simply activating a propulsion system remotely. $\endgroup$
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 14:27

2 Answers 2

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...to stay within the bounds of realism...

No

We've had a bit of frustration over the increasing number of users who visit Stack Exchange asking us to explain their fantastic idea with scientific accuracy. Unfortunately, there's a practical truth to your question that's also true in kind for 99.99% of all other such questions.

Telekinesis doesn't exist.

Without understanding the basic physics behind telekinesis, it's impossible to explain in any way how science could be used to create a technology to create it synthetically.

What are your options?

Arthur C. Clarke once suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic.

This is your path to success. We're going to help you create some technobabble (which absolutely, positively won't comply with the tag for the purpose of your question) that helps create enough suspension of disbelief that your readers will enjoy your story without being distracted by your explanation.

1. Methods of locomotion

  • Gravity (works on any substance)
  • Magnetism (only works on ferrous metals)
  • Superconducting levitation (doesn't meet , but could meet )
  • Quantum Entanglement (barely meets because we're ignoring what it really is)
  • "The Zoltan Effect" (brilliantly meets because the effect isn't implausible, even though the physics behind the effect remain undefined)

It's worth underscoring "The Zoltan Effect." Author Frank Herbert used this literary device to rationalize his "shields" in the novel Dune. The shields worked due to "The Holtzman Effect." While he dropped a few tidbits about the Effect (and it's creator, Holtzman... great backstory there), he never fully explained it. He didn't have to. The Holtzman Effect wasn't in any way a critical aspect of the story. Spending time explaining it would distract from the story itself and simply give avid readers an opportunity to poke holes in his fictional "theory." Food for thought, there.

2. Methods of application

Once you choose the "force" or method of locomotion, we next need to decide how to apply that force. Since we're dealing with an artificial or synthetic solution, this means the "energy" isn't coming from the human mind, or even the human. It's coming from a machine. One that's hopefully small enough (ah... Clarkean Magic) to carry in one's pocket or on a wristband.

  • Focused generator (e.g., optics like a laser or magnetic focusing, a "beam" of something is emitted from the generator)
  • Displaced projector (combined effects resolve in a spot some distance from the machine, such as can be created with projected sound waves that combine at a distance to either cancel one another out or enhance and multiply their effects)
  • Slave emitter (a machine not on the body, but located e.g. on the top of a building that then causes the effect).

3. Finally, the control mechanism

  • Implanted cybernetics (electronics in your head that interpret mental commands)
  • Headgear (a hat of some sort that contains the sensors to detect brain activity)
  • Remote detection (a "beam" or similar sensing solution that is emitted from another location that detects brain activity).

A fun aspect of the control mechanism is that it's very likely to be an extension of pre-existing medical technology. Whatever "scanning" technology is used to identify problems with the body is adapted to "scan" the mind for control commands.

Conclusion

Please be aware for future questions that asking us to scientifically explain a completely fantastic idea isn't what we do. Anybody who could legitimately do that wouldn't post an answer here — they'd be running to the patent office with a multi-billion dollar solution. What we do here is help you rationalize your fantasy. Thus, in the future, please help us out by explaining with specific detail the effect you're trying to achieve including its limits, restrictions, and conditions, then ask us to what level of detail (not including "Real Life") you need the idea expressed to. We're happy to help! But it really helps us if you don't come with the expectation that everything can be explained through science. :-) Honestly, humanity is only just scratching the surface of what the universe has to tell us. Cheers!

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    $\begingroup$ Hello, and accept my sincerest apologies. I may have worded my question in a weird way and I am quite new to this forum so I am not fully aware of all the rules yet, but will keep in mind everything you said going forward. :) $\endgroup$
    – Zoltan
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ Cheers, @Zoltan we look forward to it! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Zoltan You tagged the question properly, which is why he listed things like Gravity and Magnetism as not needing a tag modification, but he's suggesting that even though those fit your question as asked better, that a Phlebotinum MAY be a better fit for your setting. If there is no need to explain how Clarke Tech works, then it is often better not to explain it, but if this technology is useful for to many plot points, then having a science based understanding of it can be helpful for establishing limitations to keep the item from just solving every problem. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ Minor correction: that quote is from Clarke, not Asimov $\endgroup$
    – Idran
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Magnetism will work on things other than ferrous metals; besides iron, cobalt, and nickel alloys and compounds, it'll work on certain compounds of manganese and magnesium (which are actually named after their magnetic properties). And if it's strong enough it'll work on anything; paramagnetism and diamagnetism can be used where ferro- and ferrimagnetism fail. $\endgroup$
    – Hearth
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 14:12
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Wireless Neuro-jacking & Nanobot Swarms

Telekinesis in a Hard-Science setting is next to impossible. There is nothing about your brain that is actually designed to move things on its own. That said, there are products being developed right now that allow you to remotely control a computer based system with your thoughts. IoT technology is also a pretty well established science for projecting information between unconnected devices and moving them around. This technology on its own is enough to create a number of telekinetic like effects without leaving the realm of hard-science. You could with a thought open a door, adjust a thermostat, or control your Roomba to clean up a spill... okay; so, to us here in the early 21st century, none of this is all that impressive, but it does lay the foundation for what you need.

As time goes on, Roomba's become obsolete only to be replaced with multi-purpose domestic androids. They can cook, clean, watch the kids, etc. All at the command of your wireless neurojack. But Androids too will become obsolete. The are big and expensive. Most people can't afford them, or they can only afford 1; so, instead people transition to smaller and smaller helper bots. Cheap, small, robotic spider looking things can work together or as individuals maintaining your home by doing everything from scrubbing floors to hunting down house flies... and as time goes on these robots get smaller, cheaper, faster, and stronger until a 12-pack of smart bugs becomes some cheap consumer item you impulse by at the local dollar store. Robotic spiders then turn into robotic flies capable of lifting hundreds of times their weight; so, now your little robotic bugs can fly all over your house carrying things to-and-fro. Baring a careful eye, it almost looks like these things are flying on their own.

Then comes the final evolution of this trend, nanobot swarms, little robots that are so tiny they can not be seen with the naked eye. Millions of cheap little robot servants obey your every command, moving things through the air with just a thought, and no visible object there to move it.

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    $\begingroup$ I like it. It's not telekinesis but if an alien landed and things started moving around apparently at the alien's whim, it would potentially look like telekinesis. Reminds me of a book where all of Dracula's powers were actually because Dracula was a nanobot swarm. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 19:32

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