I was wondering, before I spend too much time into it, if anybody has ever tried to design a fictional chemistry system. For example designing the very basic set of rules, like a different structure of the atoms or a different number of electrons required from stability, and from there imagining how they would interact between each other and what kind of matter they would form. Or maybe changing one rule of the real world chemistry and studying how far the change extends. I know about similar endeavours in physics, but nothing about chemistry, and my google-fu is not helping this time.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Mario! Welcome to Worldbuilding. If I may make a suggestion: your question might be better phrased in terms of "I want to design a fictional chemistry, what do I need to account for". You'll need to be very careful about setting restrictions on how far you want the question to go because, as is, your question is "too broad" and on its way to being closed. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Oct 15, 2017 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ This is a fantastic idea. Chemistry is the central science - once you build a new one, you can build not just a world but a universe and time system too I think you should build a new chemistry - New atomic structure is a great start. Imagine if the nucleus was the base of bonding rather than the shells. Or go back to Rutherford - Might be a good place to start - How would chemistry (and matter) be different, if he had been right? And, then, make it even wilder. Like, no electrons at all, or electrons that become protons when they bond, you have a lot of potential here. Thanks for a great Q. $\endgroup$
    – SFWriter
    Oct 15, 2017 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Depends on what counts as "designed". Greg Egan has posited alternative chemistries at least thrice that I know of, described in varying degrees of detail: the autoverse chemistry from Permutation City, the 5D chemistry from Diaspora, and the alt-universe chemistry from the Orthogonal trilogy. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2017 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ If you are prepared to do some calculations, get rid of quantum spin. This effectively halves the number of electrons in each shell, leaving you with each nucleus having roughly the chemical properties of the atom with twice the atomic number. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2017 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


No Man's Sky has one. But I'm not sure how much they change it, because all rules we know in chemistry work in complete balance (or almost complete balance) and it is hard to break or change that balance in a fictional chemistry.


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