Some more-than-usually clever boffins have knocked up a system that allows them to form portals into a region where the laws of physics are rather...different.

An object that is fired through one portal - that is, with no physical connection back to the origin point - will emerge from the other with its speed unchanged and vector shifted to align with the exit portal's alignment - no matter what that alignment is. From the outside, this appears to have instantaneously - indeed, faster-than-light. But experiments to demonstrate its safety show something...odd.

Biological specimens travel through the portal almost entirely unchanged. Bacterial cultures don't grow, animals don't age, plants don't photosynthesize. They bear every sign of having passed immediately from one point to the next. The only difference is that they appear to emerge colder than when they entered.

Radioactive isotopes, on the other hand, appear to decay at an accelerated rate. When examined, they have decayed twice as much as they should have if they had simply made the same journey through normal space.

Technological recorders are a mixed bag. Some technology works, some does not.

After extensive study, the conclusion is this:

Chemical reactions don't happen in the Pathway.

A vessel sent through the pathway continues to move through time and space, but it's moving through the time of the Pathway universe, not our universe - hence the apparently instantaneous transit. But during this time, all chemical reactions simply...stop. Complex molecules remain in the state they were when they entered the portal. Heat radiates away as normal with no biological processes to generate it. As soon as the vessel leaves the Pathway, chemistry starts up again exactly where it left off.

So, after all that backstory, here's my question:

What changes to the laws of physics could produce this effect? And what kind of technology would be able to operate in such a region?

  • $\begingroup$ If chemistry stops working then what is keeping the spacecraft and people inside from instantly transforming into a cloud of gas? Chemistry is not only about carbon reacting with oxygen, is also about carbon dioxide not dissociating spontaneously into carbon and oxygen, and aluminium atoms forming nice microcrystals, and silicon oxide adhering to silicon crystals, and iron atoms staying put in the middle of haemoglobin molecules etc. Reactivity and stability are two faces of the same coin. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that is what I asked. Thank you for restating my question. $\endgroup$
    – Werrf
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 21:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Basically, anytime you have more than one atom, chemistry is involved. Chemistry is our understanding of how atoms interact and "stick" to one another, no "chemistry" means nothing made up of more than a single atom (or a cloud of unreactive atoms) $\endgroup$
    – Samwise
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ I did not say no chemistry. I said "no chemical reactions". That would NOT automatically mean "all molecules fly apart", it would mean "molecules stop coming apart and stop forming". $\endgroup$
    – Werrf
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ LIfe is basically nothing but a continuous chemical reaction. so no living thing can survive there. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


As written, this isn't possible

The problem with changing local physics (among other things) is that it's hard to take objects out of this dimension that haven't been changed by it. For example:

  • If you adjust gravity, things will stretch or compress
  • If you change the characteristics of matter objects will not stay together physically (reactions will occur or particles will drift)
  • If you change the speeds of electrons in their orbits to "freeze" particles, your objects will fall apart
  • If you change thermodynamics, you can handwave the cold, but you may not be happy with the temperature gradient produced
  • If you change the speed of light to do instantaneous transfers, you will not in turn accelerate the transfers themselves :(

Our current model explains what we see, so by changing it, we will see something else happen.


1. Instant transfer


  • Biological specimens lose heat energy
  • Radioactive isotopes lose the energy contained in their nuclei
  • Change appears instantaneous

Perhaps objects are transported instantly (well, as fast as light). This means chemical reactions will take too long; it also explains why living things don't decay.

However, the portals may take the thermal and nuclear energy from molecules and atoms to fuel themselves. Air passing through, which has an abundance of thermal energy relative to other substances because it is a gas, will fuel the portal, but it will still take thermal energy (heat) and nuclear energy (hence the decay) at an increased rate for good measure.

Meanwhile, machines reliant on chemical reactions (battery-powered, for instance) will not be able to operate in that "instant"; they cannot record the "jump". However, those that aren't reliant on such a reaction (maybe powered by radiation directly?) could record light as they "jump" in small quantities. This is speculative, of course.

2. Handwave a new law of physics or a new fundamental force

Changing the existing laws won't work, but you can always make a new one that only applies in the Pathway for whatever cosmic reason. It's just as justifiable as why particles exist, or why photons were made faster than protons - it's the way things are. All science can do is explain it and apply that knowledge.

Write this law or set of laws however you want, but keep in mind the following:

  • It should preserve matter as-is; no small-scale changes, because they have a ripple effect (and will decouple molecules and atoms)
  • It should allow momentum (to move things) on large scales - kind of like how gravity increases in strength as objects increase in size - but not on small scales, to prevent chemical reactions from occurring
  • Weak nuclear force should override your law or force (and act stronger on small scales) to speed up radioactive decay
  • Atoms should be able to emit radiation slowly but not absorb it in abundance (to cool down, but also to avoid killing organisms with ionizing radiation)
  • Perhaps electromagnetic radiation is exempt from all the above laws when it's passing through a strong conductor (might allow some machines)

Given the above information, you may be able to measure radiation within the void - but you will need to be extremely creative while engineering machines to do so.


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