In my world a human being gained powers through a special stone. He never showed it to anyone and does not even want it. At some point in the story he is obliged to cooperate with scientists who want understand his power and acquire knowledge of it.

His power is like "the force" in star wars: the stone converts his thoughts into actions, he can manipulate local gravity as he wants, but with concentration limitations (usually he can't do more than 2 things at the same time without some loss). His body is normal like that of an average human, so he can hurt himself. Usually he needs to see what he is doing because it's too risky to use the power blindly. The power of his actions has no limitation, he can lift a whole mountain or just a pen, but the quantity of actions is, he can lift a mountain but can't sustain four pens at each corner of a room.

Scientists perceived these limitations and want to do tests to acquire knowledge, find ways to control him, etc. What kind of tests would they do?

I'm thinking in general areas, not just physics, which is the obvious one. Biology, psychology and so on.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. I'm not sure if your question qualifies as a worldbuilding question, but i like it! May i recommend you have a look at the help center and take the tour ? $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    May 26, 2017 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! Unfortunately, your question isn't a good fit; it's classified as too "story-based", meaning that it asks about the actions of characters instead of characteristics of your world. $\endgroup$
    – Azuaron
    May 26, 2017 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean with "knowledge"? Are the scientists trying to find out what the limitations of his power are or are they trying to find out where the power comes from? The first one could be somewhat answered here, though it might be a bit opinion-based and the latter would be too broad. Your last sentence sounds very broad, too. Answering about every field we can imagine is too much. What time is your story set in? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    May 26, 2017 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding and thanks for the approved answer, but you should really give it some time and let others answer, approving an answer really fast usually discourages others from answering. $\endgroup$
    – Josh King
    May 26, 2017 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ Normally you should try to wait at least 24 hours as people using WorldBuilding live in different timezones and are active at different times of the day. In the end it's your decision, but giving others the chance to have a look at the question and maybe start discussions with the already provided answers can help to improve the quality of the answers you get. You can accept and unaccept at any point and as often as you want. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    May 26, 2017 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


There are two main areas to test, how it works, and the limits of what it can do.

How it works?

These tests would have him use his force power to manipulate an object and look for something connecting him and the object he is influencing. Look for any type of interaction between him and the object, first using visual cameras to document then move into other areas of the EM spectrum (i.e. infrared, ultraviolet, radio, x-ray), then move on to more exotic sensors, have him work his powers in something with similar sensors to the LHC, isolate him and have him operate across a vacuum and look for subatomic particles or other interactions.

Along with looking for a connection you want to measure his body very closely for any changes. Stick him in a fMRI. What is his brain doing when he uses this force? does he burn calories to exert force? Where is the energy coming from? You are looking for anything out of the ordinary in his body.

Limits to his powers?

These test are more straightforward, we don't care how it works we just want to know what he can do. Start out with test weights, how much can he lift with his powers; then move on to distance tests, how far away can he influence an object, does his power drop off with distance? Can he only work if he can see an object, does this work using a camera over longer distances? Try multiple items, how many objects can he lift? Then try to have him do other tasks, fill out forms, solve puzzles, do math, how much concentration does he have to have to exert this force? Think about Luke lifting rocks while balancing with Yoda on one hand and lifting R2-D2, test distractions.

For all of these type of tests you want measurable data, and you change the test parameter, distance, weight, distraction difficulty, until he can no longer use his force, you are looking for his limits, and you would want to repeat some of these standard tests over time to see if he is growing stronger or weaker, or if there is something influencing his ability to use the power.


There are basically two kind of questions a scientist could ask in this context: 'What can he do?' and 'How does it work'.


The obvious first test would be DNA analysis, though this should not give any results in the case you described. Since you mentioned his thoughts are a necessary component of the power, fMRI experiments could (though that doesn't have to be the case, depending on how you want the power to work*) show a specific activation pattern of neurons associated with the use of the power. Using electrodes implanted into the brain or external stimulation like TMS it could well be possible to either prevent the usage of the power by disrupting these activation patterns or - the other way - around force the usage of the power (mind only the usage, not the direction).

*The thing here is that brain activation patterns are - at least as far as I know - not completely understood. They often occur associated with specific functions of the brain, or associated with certain behaviours, but it's mostly not even clear if they are the result or the cause of these functions.


Any limits on the size or number of the items should be easily observable (maybe less so on the mass levels, since a mountain doesn't fit into your average lab).

Any modern physicist would however really want to know which kind of (physical) force is used to affect the levitated item. If or how this question can be answered by scientist is again up to the way you want your powers to work. They would probably use equipments to measure any kind of electromagnetic wave (Light, radio, X-ray, ...) that might be involved in the process. Since the proposed 'force carrier' for gravitation is not yet known by science, it is currently not possible to say how gravity works or could be measured on the particle / force level. Alone this fact however, would mean that physicists would love your person to use his power in or around the detector of an particle collider (like the LHC). While it might not allow them to explain the power itself, it might well be the next step to actually understand how gravity works.

Another (probably fruitless) test to do, would be on the chemical & physical properties of the levitated items: does the leviation change them in any way, if yes, how so?


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