What If Quicksilver Ran Past You?

VSauce scientifically breaks down one of Marvel’s most famous mutants…with some help from the Muppets?!

An Old Story, With A New Twist

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about inventiveness. Specifically, an invention that reverses pollution.

…Seriously? Wow. This is actually really hard. Okay, let’s think about this.

Pollution comes in many forms. For simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with the big ones, like air and water pollution. There would need to be a way to not only filter pollutants prior to emission, but to keep them from escaping into the atmosphere at all. They’d have to be harnessed and converted into fuel, but the scope of such a process is anyone’s guess. Not all air pollution is man-made; volcanic eruptions, cattle digesting food, and radioactive decay are all naturally-occurring processes. Also, having something like sulfur oxide replacing gasoline would likely have its own hazards. However, nitrous oxide engines aren’t unheard of. It’d be really interesting to see an engine running on water pollutants like chlorinated solvents or perchlorate, but there would be a plethora of health and environmental issues with them. How do you convert something so toxic into a working, viable fuel? Chemical reaction? Particle physics?

I don’t know.

I’d say that it’s just a matter of technology catching up with chemistry, but that doesn’t address the bigger problem: Sustainability. Anyone who’s even glanced at an article about economics and natural resources knows how messy things have gotten. Politics aside, our society runs on finite resources. Period. It’s the same problem that’s plagued every single living creature since the dawn of time: We do not have enough of what we need to survive. It’s practically the theme of our history. The only way we survive is to adapt by changing what we need. Since our current technology (including the manufacturing of potential anti-pollution facilities) runs on fossil fuels, we’d have to devise an engine that runs on something else. Since energy can’t be created or destroyed, it would need to be converted from a naturally-occurring source. Solar panels and wind turbines have taken great strides in the last few decades, but the technology still has a long way to go. I’d be more interested in a large scale magnetism-based electrical engine. Magnetism and electricity go hand in hand, but using it in everyday life is still pretty far off.

Unless you’re Magneto.

…And now I’m going to be spending my afternoon reading up on physics, electromagnetism, and comics. Thanks, Daily Prompt!


Daily Prompt: Now You See Me, Or: Teleportation Consternation

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is about super powers again. This one’s a little more specific, though: what would you do with the power to appear or disappear at will? Now, this one’s kind of tricky because the extent of the power and its consequences aren’t discussed. The logistics alone would make me hesitate to use the power at all. Oh sure, it looks cool…on paper, anyway. You probably think I’m just an unimaginative naysayer, but let’s think about this. There are several aspects of the power that need to be considered:

-How long does the power stay in effect? Will you have to hold your breath like Shadowcat?

-Do you stay in the same place when you disappear? Do you just turn invisible? That’s not very helpful against, you know, an oncoming car. Or swords. Or anything deadly that you couldn’t possibly avoid anyway.

-If you’re capable of traveling distances while using your power, is there a range? How far is it? Can you do Bleach-style Flash Steps? Can you do some globe-hopping?

-If you do travel, how do you get through objects? Do you become intangible? Is there a portal system? Do you have to travel through a demonic alternate dimension a la Nightcrawler?

Also, if you’re traveling distances, shouldn’t you know exactly where you’re going? How are the destinations determined? Doesn’t the Earth’s rotation factor into that? What happens if you let your mind wander and reappear in a chunk of concrete? How exactly is the human mind supposed to develop the superhuman levels of spatial cognizance to do that? Do you practice in an open field or something?

-What about the conservation of momentum? If you decide to vanish out of a moving vehicle, then won’t you crash-land when you reappear? You really think teleporting out of a falling airplane and back into your safe little apartment is going to save you?

-If you’re not intangible, then that power isn’t going to help you get out of most situations. Especially in crowded, populated, camera-filled areas. If someone sees you disappear in front of them, they’re going to freak out. Have fun getting your mystical mug plastered all over YouTube, and then being chased by the government for “science.” Or amateur ghost hunters. Maybe both.

-Do your powers extend to your clothes? What happens if you decide to disappear, but only your physical body vanishes? You’ll leave a pile of laundry/traceable evidence behind! Didn’t that happen on Alex Mack? Oh, and I hope you have a good explanation for when you randomly reappear naked somewhere. Or do you have to wear a skin-tight undersuit, like the heroes in Animorphs?

-How much concentration and/or energy is required to use the power? Does it effect your metabolism, like The Flash? Will it kill you if it’s used too much? If you don’t focus enough, will you leave body parts behind? Didn’t that happen on the Star Trek transporters a couple dozen times?!

…Oh, dear. This is getting messy.

Look, teleportation would only be useful if it didn’t place enormous strain on your body, let you develop some kind of supplementary super-spatial cognizance, and allowed you to transport foreign objects as well. Those criteria in play, I would use it to explore the world. Reach far-flung cultures and get lost within them. See the world from all its peaks. Circumnavigate the globe in the blink of an eye…But that’s not all. There are practical uses too; I could use it to do scouting and mapping on scientific expeditions. If the range is far enough, I could revolutionize space exploration! When disaster strikes, I could bring medical aid and resources on an unprecedented scale. Or set up my own product shipment service. You think Amazon’s delivery drones are cool? I could teleport that Kindle with the snap of a finger. It’d be like magic.