The Law of Conservation of Energy states that: Energy, within a closed system, will remain the same. It cannot be created, nor destroyed, only change from one form to another.

In my magic system: Mana is quite literally a form of energy that is able to be directly controlled by a creature(say, a human) and is used to power magic. Mana exists across the entire universe, but not everyone can naturally control or even access it.

Initial Mana is where someone is born with a concentration of Mana inside their bodies. (roughly 50% of the human population have Initial Mana). Up until now, Init Mana was a big deal, because it never depleted (except in rare cases, which would weaken or potentially kill its host). Those without Init Mana had to carry a supply of Mana around, which could be depleted quite quickly depending on the context.

Init Mana doesn't abide by this law because it is sustained even though it can have tremendous energy drawn from it, assuming the draw is less than their internal Mana capacity. (like a 5v fan running infinitely as long as it didn't somehow draw 6v)

I need to find a way to explain this within that law, without breaking what makes Init Mana so great.

Also, Init Mana is written to be slightly different than regular Mana, so I could make up rules to explain this without risking breaking things.

My magical system is much more detailed than this, so if you need more information, please don't hesitate to ask!

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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 8 '17 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuiding Cyanite. Can you clarify the question that you want answered? I am not at all sure what you want to know. Infinite sources of energy and the law of conservation of energy do not sit well together to say the least. $\endgroup$ – Slarty Nov 8 '17 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a problem with simply handwaving that this energy well is absurdly big? $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Nov 8 '17 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ I don't want to guess things, so are you asking "how to explain an infinite energy source within a wizard?" This is opinion-based. I already got an answer when I read the question, then two, then three. Not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Nov 9 '17 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ My magical system is much more detailed than this can you elaborate more so answers can be not opinion-based $\endgroup$ – Vylix Nov 9 '17 at 2:10

By the law of COE, what you need is that somehow you have invested an enormous amount of energy into Initial Mana, but the regular Mana is basically the same thing without an enormous amount of energy.

My first thought is to relate it, analogously, to carbon. With an enormous amount of energy (both heat and pressure) I can compress carbon into diamond, a perfect lattice, and that energy could be considered 'stored' in the bonds formed between atoms of carbon in the lattice. It takes a great deal of energy to liberate a carbon atom from its diamond lattice: That is why diamond is one of the hardest things on earth, the hardest scratch on anything else breaks those weaker bonds, not the bond in the diamond.

On the other hand, graphite is mostly carbon. Without the invested energy, it is one of the softest things on earth, it is scratched by almost anything: That is why it makes a good pencil lead, the slightest pressure and the carbon breaks off by the billions.

Say every action requires an equal and opposite reaction: If you consider the force required to accomplish some piece of magic to require balancing specifically by the liberation of atoms of Mana, then the diamond form will last far longer than the graphite form, just because so much more energy is required to liberate an atom of diamond than is required to liberate an atom of graphite.

I am not saying Mana is carbon: It is its own magical element. I am just saying your wizards can explain it to students, saying the carbon analogy is apt. Mana has two wildly different forms of the same element.

You can go further and say the crystallized form seems only possible if it is embedded within a life force as the catalyst for crystallization, and without a life force the loosely bound graphite form seems to be all that can form.

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    $\begingroup$ So, by this, you're saying that it's not that Init mana isn't being depleted, it's just that it is depleted in so little amounts to not notice..? If this is correct, then this would go well with the system I already have in place. Init Mana, unlike natural Mana, regenerates slowly over time if depleted. We could also go as far as to say that the reason some people have it, and some don't (and why some have more than others) is actually more of a defined catalyst within their bodies, and not the body itself. $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ With this logic, the reason the depletion could go unnoticed would be that it regenerates at the same speed or faster than it depletes, but once it reaches the limit of the catalyst, it stops. I really love this answer, but I will give others a chance to answer before accepting it. Thank you. ^~^ $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ Both good answers. Yes, I was saying the natural 'crystal' form of Mana in the body takes about 100x the energy to liberate one atom, as compared to the energy it takes to liberate one atom in the randomly occurring concentrations (the 'graphite' form). The idea of a catalyst is a good one: Make your catalyst something that can ONLY exist in a living human body. It binds Mana: Once it is all bound to Mana, that's it. But it is liberated when Mana is used; and in time the liberated catalyst will bind to more Mana, topping off the internal supply. Something like that. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Nov 8 '17 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Would it destroy your entire theory if I say that Mana is not physical, and Init Mana reflects that? These can be compared to electrical energy, just that they are "conducted" in a vastly different way. $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ First, electricity and magnetism ARE physical. Electrons and photons are physical particles. Second, no it destroys no theory. Physical things can embody and bind non-physical energy. Consider a steel spring: Compressed, it holds energy, which can be released. No mass is subtracted from the spring in doing this, only its shape is altered. That could reinforce the theory: Your catalyst 'contains' Mana by altering to shape A, when Mana is released it returns to shape B, but new Mana returns it to shape A. Like a spring: compressed, expanded, compressed again. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Nov 8 '17 at 19:28

One alternative solution comes from looking closely at the law of Conservation of Energy: "Energy, within a closed system, will remain the same." - so just avoid a closed system. Magical energy can be sourced from somewhere outside the regular universe (such as from a parallel universe that has different laws of physics). This means that people with magical ability have an inborn connection to the source of magic, with the strength of the connection dictating how much energy they can pull through at a time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Part 2: Magical Ability. (Weston's Power Scale) - One's magical ability is measured on the universally accepted "Power Scale" created by the not-so-famous Harriet Weston in the early 1500s. The scale, which is actually a quite accurate spell, ranks the subject by their maximum "potential". The scale ranges from 1 - 10+ (around 9.5, one starts being considered a god). The highest recorded measurement, being 12, was recorded on Joseph Marcus Soviet who created the “Five Books of Power”. -- (This is something I left out of my post, which farther validates your answer) $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ I should also note, that there are two universes in my story.. Ours and our mirror, referred to as the "Other World", because it contains a 12th-century clone of Earth. Though, this wouldn't work out well for what you're saying, cause I would still have to draw the energy from somewhere within the Other World.. $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyanite Is magic tied to the mirror world? If so, perhaps the energy is drawn from somewhere between the worlds? Or perhaps the mirror world was discovered through attempts to find the source of magic? $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Nov 8 '17 at 20:31

People with Init Mana are capacitors. They can control the mana within them. As long as they are in an area with naturally flowing occurring mana they instantly (or nearly so) recharge/refill with mana on use.

Overdrawing on themselves causes flaws/cracks in their capacitor.

Time/4d: Mana exists outside of time. From the mana’s perspective all of a person’s life is already completed. So the mana input at the beginning of the life balances with the mana output at the end of their life. At every instance of a person’s life X mana is available within them to push out of them to achieve something.

Mana use throughout life is simple a state change or valance change. The gain loss of mana to the energy equation comes at birth/death and balances there. It's the fuzzy math in quantum mechanics.

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  • $\begingroup$ The first part of your post is great, and I will probably go with it. It's simple and plays well with my existing lore and my general concepts of what I want Mana and Init Mana to be. (And quite honestly, I'm surprised I didn't think of it already..) However, once I hit the third paragraph you lost me. $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyanite Yeah, I had issues clearly expressing myself for the second idea in the 3rd and 4rth paragraphs. Capacitors is simpler. However if you want to explore quantum mechanics can compare our mana to that there's more of depth available. $\endgroup$ – PCSgtL Nov 8 '17 at 20:25

Go Einstein: matter to energy

Einstein's most famous formula...


...concerns how much energy (E, in Joule) that a given mass (m, in kg) will be converted to if that mass is made into energy. The c in the equation is the speed of light, in meters per second.

As you know, the speed of light is a lot, approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. Square that, and you get a mind-bogglingly large number. So 1 kg of mass will be converted to 90 000 TeraJoule, or the energy output of your average 1000 MW nuclear reactor... over 3 years.

So if you simply assume that your characters are born with a set of special matter in their bodies that can undergo matter-to-energy transformation (*) and that energy can be channelled into performing magical feats, then there is your solution: magical energy that does not violate conservation of energy.

(*) Normally this requires what I mentioned above — a nuclear reactor — to affect

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  • $\begingroup$ This is way over my head.. $\endgroup$ – Kieee Nov 8 '17 at 19:12

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