Worldbuilding, meet Bob. Bob meet Worldbuilding. Bob has the ability to pinch time and space and tear a hole at the pinch point. The result is a temporary opening, or portal, from Bob's location to anywhere he's been or seen before. When Bob first realized he had this ability, he could only open very small portals between locations and they only stayed open for a couple of seconds. As Bob has developed his ability, he is able to open larger portals.

Bob has figured a few things out about his ability:

  • The largest portal Bob has been able to open has been 3.5m x 3.5m
  • The portals can be opened in basic round or quadrilateral shapes
  • The larger the portal, the shorter time it can stay open; his largest will only stay open for 5 seconds but he can create 45cm round portals that stay open for 30 seconds, the longest of any of this portals
  • The larger the portal, the more energy Bob has to exert to pinch the entire area together
  • Bob's portals can be opened anywhere in local space as long as he can see the location the portal is created; this can be accomplished through a telescope or binoculars but Bob has less control of the size, space, and duration
  • Once the portal is opened, Bob does not have to do anything to keep it open and he cannot force it closed
  • Bob's portals exert no force on objects around them, unless the portal is opened under an object in which case gravity would cause the object to fall into the portal
  • Portals are two dimesional and act as doorways; objects can pass through from both sides, people on either side can see through them; the back side of the portal is as impenetrable as the sides
  • When Bob was little, he accidentally opened a portal in the same space as a squirrel. The squirrel shrieked as its body was ripped apart by the expanding portal. Bob cried. Bob has since opened portals in the same space as boulders, steel safes, and in the side of a hill - the objects either flew apart or a portal shape was left in the object. The border of the portals seem indestructible.
  • Bob once opened a fist-sized portal from one side of his room to the other and held a pencil in the portal. He was amused to see the point appear on the far side as he moved the pencil in and out. When the portal closed abruptly, Bob was glad his hand was not in the portal as the pencil was cut clean and smooth as if by a razor.
  • There are no "after affects" once the portal has been created and nothing to indicate it was ever there once it closes

Bob wants to use his ability practically. But he's also concerned about how people will respond once he reveals his ability. He's not much of a fighter, so the military is out, and he's naive enough to think that's an option. Bob doesn't have any delusions of grandeur and that whole double life, super hero thing sounds exhausting.

Changing up the question to reduce the scope...

Bob wants to jumpstart space colonization, starting with the moon. Due to the unpredictable nature of opening portals by looking through a telescope, this won't be as easy as looking through a lense and creating a portal.

There are limitations to how much equipment can be moved safely with Bob's current abilities. The vaccuum of space will present a problem if a portal is opened on earth. The squirrels shrieks forever haunt Bob and he doesn't want to see it happen to a human.

Logistically, how does Bob get the equipment needed to the moon as quickly and safely as possible?

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    $\begingroup$ Portal in time? The body of your question does not mention time at all. Could you clarify please? $\endgroup$
    – Annonymus
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ Time is pinched together with space so that alternate universes aren't opened. They are inseparable as far as Bob's ability goes - he can't pinch just one or the other. If he had been or seen a star a light year away and opened a portal, you would be looking at the star in real time. Make sense? $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ I gather the edges of the portal are solid by the "squirrel incident". Are they indestructible (if not what happens when they break?)? Could they be used to hold up something very heavy (say, a collapsing building)? Can he create multiple portals at the same time? If so, what happens when two portals intersect? Are the portals usable from both sides? If not, what happens on the inactive side? You might also want to state explicitly that they are 2 dimensional. $\endgroup$
    – Annonymus
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin_xs6, the portal is fixed to the space in which it opens. The car is just passing through that space. If opened in a car and the car was moving the portal would cut a hole in the car as the car left that space. Any matter that could pass through the portal would end up on the other side. Bob would never open a portal in front of himself or any other passenger while in a car, unless it was big enough for the person to pass through entirely. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ Yes Martin, with Earth's reference frame. I thought that's what I was explaining. Since a car moves away from that reference, the portal would not travel with the car. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 17:20

6 Answers 6


I am just writing one answer out of hundreds. Send Bob to space and ISS. Now you can launch satellites for a fraction of the cost. Also transferring stuff to and from ISS is now almost free. Get him to the Mars, he can return instantly and we can begin colonizing it. Space front is looking bright with him.


You don't actually need to send him to Mars. Just make him see inside to a pod, send the pod to the Mars. Get him teleport to pod to see the environment. No need to risk him with the journey.

  • $\begingroup$ That is an interesting idea! 3.5m x 3.5m will limit the equipment and satellite size though. Of course moving these things in modular pieces that are easily assembled is a possiblity. I wonder how the vaccuum of space would play out in a portal here on earth though? $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ I guess vacuum would seep in, but could be contained easily. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Also, most commercial satellites would fit from a 3.5x3.5 m opening. Couldn't find exact dimensions for one, but found a photo to compare: businesswire.com/news/home/20150417005427/en/… $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ You could definitely get some very cool equipment into space that way. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 20:51

Bob can generate infinite amounts of energy

By using portals to move water into an area of higher gravitational potential, Bob can generate energy with a hydroelectric power station. However, due to the relatively small size of the portals Bob can open, he will struggle to generate more than 1MW, yielding him only about £6 every time he can manage a 45 second portal. This isn't really enough to justify the expense of the equipment, so this is out as a money-spinner.

Bob can precisely cut items

The ability to precisely cut items is very powerful and very expensive. Bob can create flat planes in any material better than any other manufacturing system. He can cut industrial diamonds as well as produce parts precise enough for any engineering company. I would expect that this talent is easy enough to keep relatively secret and so Bob is unlikely to come up against any negative consequences for using this power despite making quite a lot of money!

  • $\begingroup$ The duration of the portals would greatly hinder his ability to create hydroelctric energy. But the cutting aspec of a closing portal could be huge, espcially when considering construction applications. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:31

I'm just going to come out and say it...

''Take from the rich, give to the poor!''

Yes, that could lead to an exhausting double life scenario, but he's naïve! He may just realise it's worth it. Or starts out so small, he doesn't realise how exhausting it is until it's too late!

I assume, that with his ability, Bob never completed college? Why would he when he can do what he can do. This way, authorities won't suspect Bob as he won't have the 'technical' expertise to do these robberies. I mean, what college dropout would ever be able to literally cut open ever single safe he/she came across and be gone in less than 3 minutes!

As long as Bob doesn't live beyond his means, he will be able to help out the poorest of the world's populations.

When he get's bored with taking from just any rich dude, he can start investigating them. Figure out which rich dude needs the most taking down. He could use his abilities, not necessarily to steal the wealth, but to get the hidden evidence needed for the governments and judiciary to convict and imprison these self righteous pompous bastards for various crimes. (note, not all rich dudes are pompous bastards, but a vast majority are)

But again, this might just sound too exhausting to Bob.

But think, Bob, the ability to get into any lockbox and ferret out any secrets...that would be of the most benefit for mankind!

If that's not enough to convince Bob, just tell him it will get him the girls (or boys)!

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    $\begingroup$ This seems a little more serving than Bob is comfortable with. $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2016 at 15:03

If Bob will ever make his ability known, he will be studied by scientists of the country that's first to know about him. After all, if he can do it, then it's only a matter of time and effort to make machines do it, right?

Of course he can run, but government would look for him, and he would spent rest of his life as a fugitive, until he would get too tired. Or he will end up with collar that will administer sleep drugs and send signal to acquisition team when it no longer receives signal from lab transmiter. Can't really run with that on.

So that's it, either golden cage in a lab, and illusory freedom, or running.

When it's replicated, it's another story. New chapter in travel, war and so on. But no way it'll be about one man with freedom to choose.

  • $\begingroup$ You are assuming it can be replicated and other's probably would too. Of course, a government could offer him a non military job to help him develop it and study it at the same time, in the hopes of replicating. That same government would protect Bob vigorously. Imprisoning Bob would be ineffective...he just creates a portal and escapes, creates another portal back to the prison so any one following just ends up back where they started. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveMangiameli I'm assuming gov and sci people would assume it can be replicated. If not? Worse for Bob, because research would never end. And for imprisoning - collar I described would be 100% effective. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Aug 16, 2016 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Bob would open a portal on the collar and send that part to another location, effectivly destorying the collar. Then he escapes. Portals opening in front of chasing agents send them to other locations or if Bob gets fed up, just part of them. Bob is peaceable enough, but let's not make Bob mad. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve Mangiameli, After seeing a squirrel cut in half as a little kid, you only now worried about Bob being mad??? $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps, Bob is a good guy understanding the ramifications of misusing his ability. I would only be concerned if I threatened him and even then, there would have to be no other way of dealing with the threat before Bob decided enough was enough. Even so, still not a good idea. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 20:32

Power The World

You will need

  • Bob
  • Underground lake
  • The Sun
  • Huge Steam Engine

Bob makes a portal between the underground lake and deep beneath the Sun's surface. The force of a nuclear explosion is contained by the rock as high pressure plasma rushes through. The lake is heated to boiling. Several of the worlds largest power stations sit above the lake, generating a majority of the worlds electricity. Bob makes a portal three times a day and is immensely rich. He has also sent a lot of space probes across the solar system and beyond.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm...unless Bob has been deep beneath the Sun's surface or to the outter reaches of the solar system, that won't be possible. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't looking at the sun or planets from earth work? $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Bob hasn't tried creating a portal through a telescope. He has to be able to visualize the space the portal will occupy. Even if he could, he's not so sure opening a portal in the sun would be a good idea unless he wanted what was on the other side to be extra crispy. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2016 at 21:32

Open a portal from the top of a room to the bottom.

Encase the portal "cylinder" with coils of wire.

Drop a powerful magnet into the top portal - it will fall through the coil generating electricity for 45 seconds.

Increase the scale a little - free electricity for ever.

Taken from Tom Scott's video.


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