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In the world I'm building, there is a special material called Pactite. This material has spawned on a handful of planets, including Earth. This pactite has the following properties:

  1. When added to molten metal, the products crafted from that metal have half the weight, twice the tensile strength and don't corrode.
  2. When added to a fire as a powder, the fire's temperature is increased proportional to the ratio between the fuel and the added pactite, up to a 150% increase in heat.
  3. When heated as a sufficiently compressed ingot above 500 °C, the ingot can store electric current comparable to modern batteries. Once cooled below 50 °C again, the ingot slowly releases the stored current at a fixed pace to any conductive materials it touches.
  4. When a compressed ingot is rotated at high speeds (several hundred revolutions per minute), it generates a local gravitational field. This field becomes stronger with higher rotational speed. If this ingot is cooled below 100 Kelvin at the same time, the gravitational field instead becomes a repulsor field, which in effect is a reverse gravity field of the same strength as a non-cooled ingot would give.
  5. When ingested by sapients with certain traits, these traits are enhanced. The first ingestion does so permanently, any further ingestions give temporary enhancements. For humans, these traits are the ones described in What consequences would ancestral guidance have?. Other sapient species will have different trait.

2, 3 and 4 require pure pactite. For example, a wheel made of a pactite alloy spinning at 500 revolutions per minute does not generate a gravity field.

Currently, I'm planning for 3 other species on other planets: 1 really strong species originating from a land evolution line, 1 really fast species from an airborne evolution line and 1 really durable species from an aquatic evolution line. Each species will have pactite affect that particular aspect of their physiology. Humanity is considered the smart species. Although all 4 species have discovered the special pactite properties and have established extrasolar colonies, Humanity was by far the fastest to do so, owing to their preservation of knowledge and culture focused on cooperation and unity.

The supply of pactite is self-replenishing. It is made from introducing common soil to existing pactite, and once a certain amount of soil has been converted in a given area, the process will automatically stop.

The main goal for this pactite beyond empowering the traits of sapient species is to greatly increase the speed at which technology develops, especially for Humanity, to the point where humanity attains most technological developments of our time at or near 1000 AD. My personal understanding is that properties 1 through 4 can increase the rate at which technology develops through reducing the number of bottlenecks that our own technological development has seen, like how certain industrial processes require really hot fuel, or how hard it is to make efficient batteries.

Does pactite resolve the right bottlenecks and in the right way to provide a major boost to human technological development?

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  • $\begingroup$ You may want to ask about how each property might be possible seperately, since putting all 5 into one question is making this very broad. $\endgroup$ – Aric Aug 18 '17 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ @AricFowler I'm not asking for a way to explain the properties, but rather "can the current 5 properties as attributed to this element help humanity in achieving the 3 below goals, or do I need to add or change a property?" $\endgroup$ – Nzall Aug 18 '17 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ I see, my mistake $\endgroup$ – Aric Aug 18 '17 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is completely up to you. I do not see why those rather minor advantages of having access to such a material would necessarily help the local "Urnfield" culture to build an galactic empire, but I can see ways how one could write a (very long) story where it does or just have a world where it did happen but for the most part left to the imagination. I don't think this is a great WB question tbo. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 18 '17 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 I've updated my question. Does it adequately solve your issues? $\endgroup$ – Nzall Aug 18 '17 at 20:02
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Your question is quite broad, but I'll give it a try.

First, you may want to provide more information about your material, as it's impossible to predict how some of them might interact with human development. More precisely :

  • What do you mean by manipulated properly ? affecting gravity is too broad, it's meaningless without more precision. My body affects local gravity everyday.
  • How does the relationship with heat and electromagnetic field works regarding pactite ingots ? Room temperature is already temperature. Does that mean that in order to not generate an electromagnetic field, an ingot needs to have a temperature of 0K ? What's the relationship betwwen the temperature and the frequency ? The less the frequency moves for a given temperature increase/decrease, the more precise stuff it permits but the lesser the frequency range becomes - especially regarding low fuel budget tasks.

Regarding the actual answer : You apparently don't need a nationalist culture to emerge from your people development since they already seem united.

The first property looks like magic. However, light metal is a good perk. Lighter materials mean that people can carry more stuff and it requires less energy to move it. It's even more relevant for energy propelled devices, as known as vehicles. A stronger and ligther metal might have some use, too, even though we can't tell without knowing more. Usually, the strongest materials are also the most brittle, think about glass and diamond. On the other hand, materials that are hard to break tend to change shape, and often keep that shape, when they receive kinetic energy.

The second property might give a good edge to your civilization regarding energy use, but in a limited capacity that directly depends from their pactite stocks and especially how much of it they can produce in a given time. It might be burned only for critical tasks, which is still a great advantage.

The third property is not quite clear, but it might hurt as much as it helps (or more, or less, depending on how it actually works) especially before they discover and understand magnetic fields and even more once they begn using electricity. But in the end, it depends on how it works, I can't guess more.

The fourth property isn't defined yet.

The fifth property is too handwaved to be of much use. Since I don't understand much about these ghosts, I can't predict their worth with precision. For example, seeing frequencies between 1nm and 1mm implies a range that covers some X-rays, any UV, visible colours, any IR and the highest frequences of microwaves. Extending that range to 1pm adds any X-ray as well as gamma rays. While I agree that perceiving these wavelengths might be of some use, I can't wrap my head around what it could look like. That trait would, I guess, either result on your people dominating the world or destroying itself, hard to decide. That's the part where you can do virtually whatever you want.

I will watch this question and update my answer if more information is provided.

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  • $\begingroup$ After thinking about the question a bit more, I've better defined the properties of pactite and focused on one particular aspect that it's trying to resolve instead of 3 separate aspects. Most of your question should still be valid, but some points might have to be updated $\endgroup$ – Nzall Aug 18 '17 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ When questions are very broad it's often best to vote to close rather than answer. Otherwise you risk your answer being invalidated by the changes made in order to get the question re-opened $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 20 '17 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Agreed. I balanced both issues and concluded that answering the current version could give some perspective to the OP so that the question can be refined even if it isn't put on hold, or before it is, and that having Stack opened in a corner at work I could manage to update my answer. $\endgroup$ – ksjohn Aug 20 '17 at 22:07

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