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Say you have a hollow sphere, about the size of a (small) grapefruit, comprised of a (let's say red) top half and a (let's say white) bottom half. There's an articulated lid, and an LED on the front. Most importantly, it fits in the pocket of your pants (or skirt, if skirts have pockets).

Now, somehow, I need to fit 0.001 - 999.7 kg worth of monster in this sphere. What is the least physically egregious way to do that? Let's ignore for a second the issue of convincing the beastie to undergo whatever process is required.

Open to creative solutions, including exotic matter. Must be if not-science-based, at least not offensive to reality.

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    $\begingroup$ wait... this sounds vaguely familiar... $\endgroup$ – Keltari Jul 14 '16 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ I <3 this question so much $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 14 '16 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ If your ball is a Tardis, the only problem is getting it past the control console. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Jul 14 '16 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ Grapefruit sized is pretty big. When was the last time you fit a couple of grapefruit in your pocket? $\endgroup$ – Mirror318 Jul 14 '16 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ Are you saying that the classic bag of holding is offensive to reality? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 15 '16 at 10:10

19 Answers 19

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You don't... exactly.

The Poké Ball—er... hollow sphere—isn't actually containing the monster. It is merely the user-interface for a teleportation device to transport the monster from its nice (and environmentally conscious) pen to where you are (and back again later).

Sure, you might need a Heisenberg compensator in order to "scale up" quantum tunneling to a macroscopic level... but at least your monster isn't cramped in a tiny little inhumane cell! (While we're at it, is it politically correct to call them a "monster"?)

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    $\begingroup$ This makes sense, specially considering how they can be transferred from the ball to a box (also +1). $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 14 '16 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need a Heisenberg compensator, you just need an Abra. $\endgroup$ – ognockocaten Jul 15 '16 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ Just store them on someone's PC. $\endgroup$ – Devsman Jul 15 '16 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ your right, monster doesn't seem politically correct. Maybe we can come up with some less politically charged term for these creatures, but what? What possible name could one call a monster stored in a pocket? hmm..monster...pocket.... Oh I know, a Monpoke!? $\endgroup$ – dsollen Jul 15 '16 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @dsollen Nah mate, its obviously a MoneyGrabber5000 $\endgroup$ – Dan Brown Jul 15 '16 at 17:15
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Because of conservation of mass your monster beast will still weigh just as much before as after, so assuming the monster is actually inside it and you're not cheating your requirements, you're going to have rather large holes in your pockets from the larger members.

This already seems like an issue.

However we could, technically, compress the monsters. Matter can be obscenely compressed with the use of a singularity, or black hole. We'd need to come up with some manner of creating a black hole in the small sphere. While this would kill the monster, getting the monster back out wasn't a requirement, so let's not focus on that too much. What we should focus on is that, unfortunately, the smallest black hole we're yet aware of is 15 miles (24 kilometers) in diameter.

So not only are we going to have to construct your pockets out of some exotic material to not collapse given the weight, and some way to negate the gravitational forces associated with the singularity, but also we're going to have a very large ball.

Really seems like a bad idea, doesn't it? Unfortunately that's about your only option for compressing matter as much as we need to.

So basically we can't really have the matter inside the sphere. What's the alternative? Well, we need to store the matter elsewhere.

I'm not sure how much of an affront of science you consider worm-holes (they're currently very loosely theoretical with no proof that they exist, or definitive models of how they would work) but we could toss a wormhole in one of them, and have your monsters chilling out at the pocket monster center elsewhere. This way we avoid compressing the mass, we avoid the weight issue, and we skip black holes altogether.

Also PETA just called, and they want a word with us both. What time are you available?

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    $\begingroup$ We may not know of any black holes smaller than 24 km, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Given enough time even those we're seeing right now will become as small. A bigger issue would be the immense amounts of hawking radiation released by a black hole as small as (or, likely, smaller than) a pocket-sized hollow sphere. Btw, wormholes are basically two black holes strung together (very gross simplification), so you can't "skip those altogether" with the wormhole appreoach either. $\endgroup$ – Annonymus Jul 14 '16 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ PETA called again. They want to meet you in a dark alley, at midnight. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jul 14 '16 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for "While this would kill the monster, getting the monster back out wasn't a requirement..." $\endgroup$ – Kodos Johnson Jul 15 '16 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ Larger members causing holes in pockets is a frequent issue. $\endgroup$ – OrangeDog Jul 15 '16 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ This is equivalent to waving a magnet over a HDD and calling it encryption... and I love it :D $\endgroup$ – Dancrumb Jul 15 '16 at 14:41
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Digitally

Assuming you also want these monsters to be able to be transported digitally, to, say, some dude's PC, and stored in a database, you will be working with digital data anyway

So a thing these balls can do is just take a digital scan of the specimen (it should be a destructive scan if we want the monster to "disappear") and then just store its data. And then when we want to get the monster out of the ball, it could just more-or-less instantly 3d print the monster!

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    $\begingroup$ Then you can call them Digital Monsters, or Digimon for short. $\endgroup$ – Kodos Johnson Jul 15 '16 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ Near-instant 3D is a thing of a distant future, and we're not even talking about organics, here. Scratch that, we're not even talking about multi-material printing. Scratch that, we're talking about special materials that react in very special way that enables this kind of speed. And it's not real-time, we've only got from 17 hours to ... 1.5? $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jul 15 '16 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Plus, It doesn't seem that an equivalent chunk of rock material disappears from near surroundings whenever I summon some of the bigger specimen. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jul 15 '16 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ Valid concerns, but seeing as the other competing answers mention "exotic matter" and "pocket dimensions" I don't think this is out of the question at all... $\endgroup$ – Tyrannosaur Jul 15 '16 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ If I recall correctly, this is close to the canonical explanation of Pokéballs. You haven't explained how the 1000kg of mass/energy is stored without weighing down the ball, however. To be fair, nobody worries about energy conservation in that universe in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Keen Jul 17 '16 at 18:42
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Pocket dimension is what I would go for. Basically, a spherical TARDIS (minus travel).

Edit: Semi-scientific explanation to this system.

Pocket universe is not fantasy if you submit to additional dimensions. Imagine you are a being of a single dimension, using vertical space (the additional second dimension), you can store more objects than the space you are using in your single dimensional universe. Same will apply to our reality if there are additional dimensions. I am not well versed in string theory but I am sure string theoreticians can come up with a solution to that problem.

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    $\begingroup$ But how exactly does that work? He may not be offensive (#British) but most of the Doctor's technobabble is politely insulting to reality. $\endgroup$ – MozerShmozer Jul 14 '16 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ How dare you! Ok, I am adding more details to justify that. $\endgroup$ – Cem Kalyoncu Jul 14 '16 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ "I am not well versed in string theory but I am sure string theoreticians can come up with a solution to that problem." You are manager material. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 15 '16 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks but it was actually a joke about how string theoreticians comes up with solutions to everything by adding more dimensions. $\endgroup$ – Cem Kalyoncu Jul 15 '16 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ You don't even need extra dimensions. I think a localized inflaton field should be sufficient to create a pocket "dimension". The inflaton field is what made our universe big. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Jul 15 '16 at 18:49
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I think we can do this without even breaking the known laws of physics, if we're allowed to bend the rules a little. The sphere wouldn't even be all that heavy, which is a problem several other answers ran into.

Pack the sphere with nanomachines capable of rapidly manipulating matter on the molecular scale, and with a very-high-density hard drive. When you "capture a monster", the nanomachines dissasemble it into carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other unobtrusive gases, and they record the original position and context of each atom. Then, when the trainer wants to summon the monster for an indisputably ethical gladiatorial bout, the same nanomachines suck in air from the environment and use it as building blocks to reassemble the monster that they originally captured. (Trace elements not present in the air might be held in storage in the sphere, I suppose.)

Granted, it requires a bit of sophisticated philosophy to see this as the monster existing "in" the po- er, sphere, when all that's there are ravenous nanites and a hard drive of chemical data. Also, the nanomachines would have to work very quickly in order for the monster not to come out as a tortured mess. And its an utterly horrific concept. But there's no fundamental physical barrier to such a device, I think.

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    $\begingroup$ Storage? If you are going to store position and context of every atom, where exactly are you going to store the data? The atom's properties you want to store have to be stored on something. The smallest lossless storage of an atom's full properties and context is the atom itself in its own context, so there might be a slight physical barrier just in terms of storing the data. $\endgroup$ – Sylverdrag Jul 16 '16 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Sylverdrag: perhaps lossless compression isn't required, only close enough to have the same chemical bonds. Since those bonds are robust enough to survive the thermal energy of body temperature, they don't need to be perfect. Perhaps getting compressed and decompressed feels tingly. At this point, there's a huge amount of redundancy between similar structures. Of course, finding redundancy is hard. In video encoding, it's a three way tradeoff between CPU time to encode, bitrate, and quality-per-bitrate (aka rate:distortion). Re: storage location, maybe network? Prob. not though. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Jul 17 '16 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Sylverdrag WinRAR $\endgroup$ – Gene Dela Rosa Jul 17 '16 at 7:50
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    $\begingroup$ @PandaLion98 Compression only goes this far. About 20-30% of the original size on average, and the original isn't the atom itself but the description of all the atom's properties. Describing in detail every type of atom and the way they are combined takes far more than just one atom, we need some duplication to check data integrity... and we don't even store in atoms. (nb: Arc, zipx and 7-z tend to have better compression results than WinRar.) It might be better to scan the monsters in a remote location and transfert the data on demand to the nanobots $\endgroup$ – Sylverdrag Jul 17 '16 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Sylverdrag I personally use 7z, LZMA2 at Ultra settings. The thing is that, if you were to scan a life form, there's going to be a lot of repetition. For example, DNA is simply a long chain of atoms. We can then store it simply as [DNA][Location/position/state data] instead of repeating a DNA molecule's long chain for every "DNA" entry. My point is that it may be highly-compressible data. $\endgroup$ – Gene Dela Rosa Jul 17 '16 at 13:41
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As you mentioned that Exotic Matter is a possibility, I only felt as though this answer was justified.

Due to the discovery of Exotic Matter (or XM) by the NIA at their cover operation of CERN and the foundation of the Niantic Project, these pok--- spherical balls could be made out of this Exotic Matter.

Within each of these balls lies a Portal akin to those leaking Exotic Matter into our universe. However, these Portals are highly mobile and allow for monsters to travel back and forth between the two universes. Humans and other non-monsters could be kept out of this universe by physically being unable to go through these Portals. Alternatively, they can never return and, therefore, nobody even tries to go into them (if you go this route, you could possibly have these "trapped" people re-appear in XM patterns through Portals all across the world -- or, they could be antagonists through whatever means).

Monsters are stored in this alternate universe where the benevolent (according to one of two factions on Earth) aliens known as Shapers decide to take care of them by placing them in idealized environments until they're summoned by their Tra--- master back into the main universe.

This solution also allows these Pok--- monsters to be stored in PCs. As it has been proven that phones and other electronic devices can control and manipulate XM, PCs (and cell phones) can create and destroy these items, and upload their schematics to a private cloud for later storage. XM released only goes back to being stateless and in a seemingly random pattern, so it takes energy (battery life?) to "hold" the proper state for these items. And, best of all, they fit into your pocket as long as a phone fits in there.

Items that can be used on these monsters can also be set up in this same way. As long as they are made of XM, they can be easily stored into the cloud.

Who knows? This may eventually lead to the creation of a "game" where people can manipulate and trap these Monsters (through the use of XM) that are somehow invisible to the naked eye. Similarly, it could also spawn a "game" related to the ingress of Exotic Matter through Portals into our world.

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    $\begingroup$ +! for crossing the Niantic streams $\endgroup$ – Matt Giltaji Jul 15 '16 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ "Alternatively, they can never return" - what happens if you take a prison guard and a supermax prisoner and lock them together in a tiny 2x3 room (of which one third is taken up by a bed)? Hint: the former can never return. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jul 15 '16 at 4:16
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Monsters are made from atoms, and atoms are mostly empty (99.9999999999996%).

All you need is a uh... Maxwell compensator which temporarily inhibits electromagnetic interaction. Then you can shrink any object to 10-13 of its original size.

Once the inhibitor is deactivated, objects will automatically grow to their original size again.

As a free bonus, this also prevents a living creature from suffocating (either because there is no air inside the ball or because oxygen atoms are too big) and from starving, since the process should reliably stop any kind of chemical reactions (including biological ones), thus basically "freezing" whatever object or creature you put in. No food nor air needed, and no aging.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like it would weigh a bit heavily on your pockets, still. $\endgroup$ – user2943160 Jul 17 '16 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ It's the Pauli exclusion principle that causes ordinary matter to have non-negligible volume, not electromagnetic forces. Protons attract electrons electrically. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_degeneracy_pressure is what prevents collapse: squishing two electrons into the same place requires energy to raise one of them to a higher quantum state. (Given enough force, this happens and you get neutron-star material, aka neutronium.) $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Jul 17 '16 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ This answer doesn't solve the information-storage problem inherent in compressing the matter down into en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_matter (since the original structure of atoms / molecules / chemical bonds is lost, and will need to be restored on expansion). It also doesn't solve the mass problem. This seems like a less-good form of @maxander's answer. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Jul 17 '16 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think it's plausible to "weaken" the Pauli exclusion principle instead of "turning it off". The repulsive force comes from the energy to attain higher-momentum quantum states; as I understand it, even a black hole doesn't overwhelm the exclusion principle. One of those articles mentioned that the strong nuclear force is repulsive at extremely short range, which contributes to the neutron degeneracy pressure which stops neutron stars from collapsing; IDK how that fits in to the rest of the picture. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Jul 17 '16 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ I'm all for hard sci-fi, but I'd rather have hand-waving than attempts at hard SF that don't stand up under scrutiny or that don't actual convey any meaning. (e.g. I'll take Firefly over Trek technobabble any day. I like Trek, but a lot of the technobabble just uses science words in a meaningless way.) Maybe an idea like this answer could work, if you're careful not to be too specific about how it works. I was on the fence about downvoting this, but decided not to. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Jul 17 '16 at 6:59
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Don't focus on the ball - focus on the monsters!

It's pretty implausible to convert living, organic creatures into data and back again, but what if the monsters are not actually living beings, but rogue nanomachine swarms who think they are living things?

They are scattered throughout the environment, invisibly floating in the air, waiting for a signal that tells them to join together and take form. When a different signal is given, they break apart and transmit their data to a device. Without a human to give them commands, they simply live in the wild like animals.

Now the question is, why would anybody create these machines? Well, maybe they wanted to take augmented reality gaming to the next level and something went horribly wrong...

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a brilliant idea! It's just the pokemon go update for the year 2500! $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jan 22 '17 at 23:17
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Pym particles. They have only discovered the ones that make things smaller so far. But one day they should be able to turn those pocket monsters into real monsters!

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    $\begingroup$ If you can only shrink—shrink the monsters for pocket convenience. When you want big monsters, simply shrink the entire universe except for the monsters. Mind=blown. $\endgroup$ – Mirror318 Jul 14 '16 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Mirror318 Reminds me of how a lot of 3D video games choose to move the enitre world instead of moving the camera. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Jul 16 '16 at 15:42
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I think your best guess would be the same technology principle used for teletransportation.

You need a very powerfull nuclear fusion central in the sphere and a interface that can store all the molecular information from the monster. Then, you desintegrate the monster untill you need it back. When you press the button, the sphere recreates the monster with the information previuously stored.

And yes, I know this has the same moral implications than the teletransportation.

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Create a two dimensional world and utilize the upper dimensional trick known as perspective.

Any object fits over any other object when the perspective is changed unevenly via a jaunt to a higher dimension.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not quite sure I gather. Are you saying to project the 3D monster into a 2D surface (such as a sphere)? That is an intriguing idea. Depth could be preserved in the same kind of way projective geometry does it (if it does). I never messed with the spherical version. Just the disk models. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jan 22 '17 at 23:14
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So why don't you just dry them. A living creature is mostly water. So you can somehow evaporate all the water from your monster. It also would weigh much less. And in your sphere you would have something like powder. When you need to actually retrieve your monster from the ball it will condensate water from its surroundings, air mostly.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think drying living things normally work out very well. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Aug 3 '16 at 2:56
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This is an insane solution, but it could very well work. Simply give your characters or a particular rich character the ability to tap into the very laws of physics and "recode" them. Then have them tweak it so that energy can be created via a very obscure reaction/perpetual motion device. Then of course, it would be patented.

This machine can be used to then create an energy field around the monster. We do not want to kill the monster so we simply counteract all outside and inside forces in such a way as to make it seem like a parallel dimension (it would be like putting a force field that counteracts the forces between two impacting cars. In theory, they pass through each other.). Then the monsters do not sit inside the ball. They simply sit in a field that allows them to pass through everything off to the side.

But then they would freze to death, right? Well... Not really. We just mimick the heat with energy from the field. In fact, this field could mimick any environment we want the creature to be in. In fact, we could even make it seem like the monster never went into the ball, and make it believe it is in the wild!

TLDR: Use an energy field that allows them to pass through matter whilst mimicking whatever environment we want by changing the inner energy of the field.

And I just realized... These balls could be used for human interrogation... Just make them think they escaped capture while monitoring

So, now you have a pokeball design, and a way it couldve developed (as an interrogation technology possibly used in a cold war or similarly espionage-filled era).

Also, this occured to me after writing this, but since I just gave your character(s) the abilty to recode physics, biological manipulation combined with the recoding of certain obsucre physics could account for the existence of these monsters. In fact, you could even claim that these monsters "just started appearing one day", and that nobody has any clue why. It could serve as a plot device, if you wish.

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The official NINTENDO manuals for the first pokemon fames state that the pokeball effectively shrinks the pokemon, and the actual pokeball itself is just a pleasant environment.

Think of it like how Ant-Man's suit worked in the comics, it basically makes the atoms smaller and therefore lighter (I know its a really weird thing, but... comics are super weird).

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this in the Japanese version of the manual? I don't remember reading this in the version of Blue I had as a kid (and it doesn't seem to be in this scan either) $\endgroup$ – shadowtalker Jul 16 '16 at 15:56
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An option might be to go Matrix style and extrapolate on the current trends:

Mankind falls in love with virtual reality and technology. By the 2030s, every human was equipped with immersive enhanced reality rigs. Landscape and people are photoshopped in real time, rigs generate a wide range of sensations for their users.

The virtual side of "reality" becomes more attractive while the "real" side become stalled and inhospitable. Pollution and environment degradation push people's lives ever faster towards full virtual reality environment. Life in the "real world" becomes increasingly irrelevant. Work happens exclusively in VR, interaction with the physical world being the purview of specially built robots controlled from a fully distributed VR environment and abstracted away.

People's "real" bodies end up docked in 24/7 in "safe" facilities while they go about their days in a completely virtual environment. Within a couple generations, everyone has forgotten entirely about the existence of the physical universe and of their own bodies. Machines handle the reproduction duties and plug new human units on a regular basis to replace existing worn-out human units.

By the time your story begins, the "real world" is a virtual world and no longer subject to the same laws of physics.

For all we know, it has already happened. ;)

Now, you can have your pockets full of monsters and if you want to store them in some quaint old-fashioned, grapefruit-sized, red-and-white container for the sake nostalgia, who is to tell you different?

Our current reality and its laws of physics didn't account for this perfectly reasonable application, but Reality® Pack Version 3.5b2.08 makes it a breeze.

Think like a manager. If reality isn't consistent with your requirements, reality must be wrong. You just have to upgrade reality.

The scary part is that it's a whole lot more realistic solution than storing genetic information and 3D printing monsters on demand or extracting monsters from a pocket dimension of some kind.

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version 1

The spheres are in reality equipped with hypodermic needles that releases a strong drug filled with nano-bots that plugs into your nervous system, after their first usage you get connected to the Collective, a network of humans, creatures and other aliens connected with each other with the solely purpose to expand the network by using the computational power of the network and the drones creatures plugged into the Collective.

The network force you to a wild catch of monsters to train them, this rather time-consuming but mind effort-less task is designed to keep your brain at low usage in order to use the remaining computing power for the Collective, you will not notice you are part of such a network.

version 2

Each ball is crafted inside a huge particle accelerator (that's why they are costly) and actually opens to a curved space where time flows really slow (and that's why weight would not matter, it is just reduced by the time flow). Consider it a white hole, or a naked singularity. Rumors about accidents are known (vanishing buildings, especially with outdated balls).

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that there is a heading button on the toolbar. Look at my edit to see the codes. You can actually have multiple levels of headings if needed. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 18 '16 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ that was done deliberatly! XD but I'm not against that kind of corrections. $\endgroup$ – GameDeveloper Jul 18 '16 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ Don't fight the CSS. Don't design your own style for the post, but use the semantic markup and let it look like the rest of the posts. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 18 '16 at 11:14
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Consider other events that have occurred in Grapefruit-Monster universe as show in the games, anime and manga. These events included time travel, teleportation, evolution where a being increases its mass by 20 times, discharging vast quantities of liquids, projecting cold, etc. I believe that monsters themselves have the ability to access pocket dimensions. The human invention of the capture ball just mimics what the monsters can do.

Perhaps the first version of the capture ball was to duplicate the monster eggs. Most of the monsters hatch from eggs. All eggs are the same size and weight, and yet a monster will "hatch" at full size and mass.

Consider the game mechanics of evolution: a monster goes into battle and fights, or observes, repeatedly. Said monster gains experience until it decides to "evolve" and increase its mass by a factor up to 9999 times. Living nuclear weapons doesn't come close to describing how scary that is. Suppose instead that in the course of training, mass is being shunted to the monster's pocket dimension. At the moment of evolution the stored mass is added to the monster.

The various title names were variations of pockets and monsters, yet I never noticed a capture ball being put inside a pocket. Perhaps it was intended to be pocket dimension capable monsters this whole time.

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The answer is very simple to me. Just take my preferred opinion on how the po-, uh, grapefruits work. Each on converts the pokemon to energy and stores them. Occasionally the energy overloads the storage device, and a failsafe converts the energy back into the creatures. These energy beings can also be sent from place to place.

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Well as per me,

the ball is just an energy converter. We all are energy in some sort of form. So, if we have a device which can convert that energy we can put it into another form, like in the form which we can store in the small ball. As we can store energy in a ball, we can also manipulate the stored energy to make genetically developed creatures like pokemon.

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  • $\begingroup$ Personally, I am far too lazy to be made of energy. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Apr 24 '18 at 17:06

protected by Serban Tanasa Jul 18 '16 at 12:13

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