The Great American
                Novel Act 1:
                the danger Act 2: rising action Act 3: the ball Act 4: crisis Act 5: triumph the Franklinverse part 2, act 1:
                the new danger

Super-science: the official truth

How super powers can be plausible.

All superpowers can be explained by the existence of "unstable molecules". "Unstable molecules" are composed of ordinary atoms that maintain their electron energy states through accessing zero point energy. For example: if a muscle built of unstable molecules intends to flex, it will flex, no matter what opposing forces are applied.


Most superhero theories require a wide range of impossible facts. This theory only requires a single extra detail to existing science. That detail may even be true (who knows?) because a "unstable  molecule" looks identical to a regular atom until its stubbornness is triggered.

smart atoms


Forget what you've seen in the old editions of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Forget what you've read in books like "The Physics of Superheroes." These are wonderful, entertaining and educational books, but they are all wrong. This is why.

First, these books do not explain all the things that superheroes do. Take the Human Torch for example. Do they explain how his organs can survive nova heat? How he can fly to the bottom of the sea while still on fire (Strange Tales 107)? How he can create doubles of himself that follow people (Strange Tales 104)? No, they don't.

Second, when they do try explanation that're far too complicated. I'm a busy man, I don't have time for complicated explanations and neither do you. It is time for Occam's razor. All the superhero powers can be explained by ONE PHYSICAL PRINCIPLE. Just one. It's called "unstable molecules".

Proof that the unstable molecules theory is true

        Handbook of the Invincible Universe

The "unstable molecules" theory features in the OFFICIAL Handbook of the Invincible Universe. I know, because I was asked to write parts of the handbook by Dusty Abell (world authority on superheroes) after he read this web site. It's the OFFICIAL handbook, so that means the "unstable molecules" theory is official.

It's canonized.

Beyond all doubt.

It is officially The Truth.

Read on, true believer...

How I made this discovery

This all started when I was reading a comic about Giant Man. Or maybe it was Ant Man. or both. If you've read those stories, you will know that they require a Ph.D. in comicology. Ant Man? Ant Man 2? Yellow Jacket? Goliath? If you can follow all those changes, then atomic physics is easy. Anyway, three questions bugged me:

  1. Where does Giant Man's extra mass come from?
  2. Where does Ant Man's mass go to?
  3. And why doesn't Giant Man (or Giant Woman) collapse under his or her own weight?

Janet Van Dyne

Think about it. Strength depends on the cross-section area of your muscles and bones. Muscles and bones are like chains: Strength depends on the thickness of the weakest link, not the overall length. If you are twice as big, you will be, at best, four times as strong (muscles are twice as wide and twice as deep) but eight times as heavy (height times width times depth). Four times as strong, but eight times as heavy? You will feel only half as strong as before! The bigger you get, the weaker you feel. And it works the other way too. That is why fleas can jump huge distances, but elephants can't jump at all.

Well it seemed obvious to me that there must be some way to change mass. But that also that mass changing had to be very smart. Though the size changed, the mass did not always change as much. Probably the distance between the atoms just increased, but the forces holding the atoms also increased so the strength changed as needed.

That was it! That was the breakthrough!

Suddenly I realized that this did not just explain growing and shrinking. it also explained super strength! And heroes like the Vision who change their mass radically! And a little thought showed that it also explained every other kind of super power! Yes, all of them! And it solved the problem of superheroes doing stuff that seemed just too crazy for their regular powers. It explained everything!

giant man

Look at the panels above (featuring Giant Man from Avengers number SomethingOrOther). You will see that the mass goes to or comes from another dimension. As all you quantum physicists and string theorists will know, the concept of quantum background energy requires other dimensions. "Other dimensions" just means "where the background energy is stored."

By the way, you will probably have noticed by now that all my examples are from Marvel comics. But don't worry, the principles also apply to DC, Dark Horse, and the rest. How do I know? I just do. It's a cosmic awareness thing.

Now if you were paying attention to the Giant Man example, you will also see that it is important not to grow too much, too quickly. Otherwise Bad Things Happen. This is discussed later, in the topic of "powers that change."

Of course, mass and energy are really the same thing. As Einstein proved, mass is just a very compressed form of energy. So let's look next at...

Superheroes who grab enormous amounts of energy from... somewhere.

Where does extra energy come from? Iron Man and the Vision and Black Bolt seem able to grab vast amounts of energy just from normal sunlight or cosmic rays. But get real! A normal solar panel doesn't give enough energy to do what these guys do (fly, smash buildings, etc.) so what gives? Clearly they are telling us a simplified version for the scientifically challenged. Or maybe they are preserving trade secrets. Either way, I will give you the truth.

Theoretical physicists tell us that there are vast amounts of untapped energy all around us. Potential energy from being a certain distance from another big galaxy. Potential energy from quark pairs that pop into and out of existence. This is big, big, BIG energy. This is the kind of energy that produces the entire universe from a froth of potential quarks.

Havoc is a good example of this. In case you missed those issues, Havoc is Cyclops' brother. In this issue of The Hulk, Havoc explains how he can grab unlimited amounts of energy from the cosmic background, and frankly that scares even him! We'll return to Havoc in a moment.


Different levels of power

At the quantum scale, the interaction between energy and mass, and between different dimensions, is just normal mundane everyday life. All our atoms do it all the time, or rather their internal particles do. Superheroes can just do it on a more interesting scale:

So why are they different? Why isn't everyone a superhero?

Why powers are different

Not every hero has the same skill. Obviously they would all get more of it if they could. This suggests that most super folks really don't know how they do it. They either got the power through luck or they use someone else's technology (and that person probably got it through luck). Let's return top Havoc as our example. His only power is to draw unlimited energy from the cosmic background, and use it to destroy things. Hence his name. Havoc. Because he creates havoc. He didn't like destroying stuff, so he retired as a superhero. But Professor X (a very clever guy) reckoned that Havoc could learn to control this power to do more useful things. The crunch comes when Havoc has to rescue the woman he loves, and she is on top of a mountain that the Hulk is about to throw. Havoc's dilemma: if he destroys the mountain, he destroys the girl! So he must learn to control his power more carefully, just like his brother does.


Havoc had a tremendous incentive to learn, and sure enough he managed to channel his power more precisely. He targeted the Hulk's brain. Then he used a controlled force blast to lower his girlfriend gently to the ground. So we see that one general purpose energy power can appear to become a mental power, an antigravity power, and no doubt many other useful powers besides. I am not saying that other heroes can easily change their powers. Clearly it is very difficult to do consciously. Havoc had the advantage that his power was highly unfocused to begin with. If his brain had been already trained to focus his power (as Cyclops' brain was) then it would probably be much harder to change old habits. But the point is, it is possible. Havoc's power, Cyclops' power, all powers, they are basically the same background energy mass trick, but applied in different ways.


Only the "unstable  molecule" theory can explain it

Only the "unstable  molecule" theory can explain superpowers, because only the "unstable  molecule" theory can explain how powers change.

For example, when the Thing first fought the Super Skrull, it was estimated that he could lift five tons, max. Then five years later he was seen defeating a giant hydraulic press that was designed to crush rocks deep into planets - it must have been at least a 500 ton press. But usually his strength is more in the 50-100 ton range.

The "unstable  molecule" theory also explains how powers can do weird and unexpected things. Why? Because all superpowers are really the same universal power, and what they do depends on the circumstances. For example, the Human Torch believes that his power is to burn, which needs air. But in one story he flew to the bottom of the sea, believing that he was gaining oxygen from the vaporized water around him.


This was no mistake: he did a similar thing years later:


How can this be? Uninformed readers might think the writer is being sloppy. But not so! How dare you challenge the mighty Stan Lee with your puny intellect? Clearly Stan the Man understands the mass-energy thing more than you do.

Why powers vary between issues of the same comic

Clearly a super power must be controlled by the mind to some extent. Otherwise the hero would go round destroying things and bursting into flame accidentally. So there is a strong psychological element. Clearly at times of great stress or confusion the power will be manifest in unexpected ways. Incidentally, this explains how the Hulk can get madder as he gets stronger. If you read the Hulk comics, you will see that it is all about his psychology.

But this does not mean that every hero has unlimited strength if they just concentrate. Clearly there is some physical basis to each hero's power, and this places some unknown limitation, and trying to do more (like Spider-man trying to lift an ocean liner) could kill them. Also, the hero can achieve more by learning to control his power than just by letting loose and hoping.

So all heroes operate within strict psychological limits. The ones that don't, like the Hulk, have serious psychological problems that are far worse than any benefit that comes from having more power.

There is no other explanation. To prove it, just look at this cutting from Avengers 159.

        of tons

In this tale, a rock the size of a small island is compressed into a super-dense ball by Graviton. It then falls to earth and four Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Vision and Wonder Man) catch it. They don't just lift it, they catch it. This thing fell a mile or so straight down, so it must have been gong at a heck of a speed, and they decelerated it to rest within, what, a couple of vertical feet? Anyone who passed high school physics can do the math: force equals mass times acceleration. Millions of tons was no exaggeration. yet according to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the combined strength of these four heroes should only lift a few hundred tons, max. Not a few million, not a few thousand, just a few hundred. Maybe you say this was a special case and Graviton made the rock lighter? No, he was out of action at this time. Besides, But this is not an isolated case. I could show you others.

The point is that sometimes superhero powers change in dramatic ways that you can only explain within the "unstable  molecule" theory. The "unstable  molecule" theory wins by default.

James Kakalios' book, The Physics of Superheroes

Maybe I should say a bit about "The Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios. This is a great book if you want to learn physics. Kakalios takes famous events in the lives of superheroes (like Superman's origin or the death of Gwen Stacey) and does a few calculations. Like how strong must the gravity on Krypton be? And how much force must be applied to hero X to achieve acceleration Y, and what would be the result?

Kakalios is a genuine physics professor and his book is worth reading for physics-as-it-is-understood-today. But he does not explain the physics of superheroes! He explains SOME superhero physics, but when he gets to the really interesting stuff, the flying through space and high energy stuff, he either says nothing or he says it cannot be done. He cops out! He runs away from the problem! In fact, he spends the last forty pages of his book denying that some things ever happened!

Kakalios' approach is not scientific! When a good scientist sees something he cannot explain, what does he say? Does he close his eyes, stick his fingers in his ears, and say "that thing did not happen"? No! He says "my theories need to be improved!" A good scientist cannot deny the raw observations. He cannot ignore them and hope they go away. He cannot tell the universe that it is wrong because it does not work according to popular theories. Where would we be if every scientist was like Kakalios? "If the observation disagrees with my theory, then the observation is wrong!" This is not science! This is anti-science!

Kakalios is a great guy and the fact that I am motivated by bitterness and envy is not the point. The fact is that Superman does fly. Everyone who has ever seen a Superman comic or movie has seen it with their own eyes. And Cyclops really does exert massive forces from his eyes without any obvious recoil effect. He has done it numerous times. If our theories cannot account for this, then our theories need to change!

The theory is not so crazy

Theory may sound exotic, and it does appeal to facts that are not yet accepted by most scientists (i.e. that atoms have an internal structure that can be adapted to make use of cosmic background energy). But it is consistent with all known physical laws, and it is the only theory that explains the physics of superheroes. Take it or leave it. It's the only theory in town. :)

Unstable molecules in more detail

Most people think of atoms as simple balls, or (if they were paying attention at school) as a few balls lumped together: But the truth is far more amazing!

Simplified atom:

simple atom

Real atom:

(still highly simplified)

real atom

Atoms are really collections of protons, neutrons, electrons and occasional more exotic particles. These in turn are made of quarks, gluons, and goodness knows what. These all exist in a state of quantum flux, in every possible state and in every position at the same time, known as quantum uncertainty. That's why the picture is full of particles when most of the time it is empty space. (Actually if you scaled them up, there is far more space between these particles than between the planets and stars in the sky! But I digress.)

In real life, exotic particles and forces appearing and disappearing faster than you can say "excelsior." Actually, a lot faster than that. Believe me, these things are really, REALLY complicated. But don't worry, we can usually treat them as being simple balls. Why? Because from a human scale, we only care about their fixed mass, fixed charge, certain predictable energy states, and so on.

The forces between atoms

In the same way, the forces between atoms are really, REALLY complicated. It's just lucky for us that they usually result in constant and predictable effects. At least at the human scale, anyway.

Forces between atoms:

(still highly simplified)


Unstable molecules in the body

A normal atom will be part of a normal molecule with normal electrical forces holding it in place. When those forces are exceeded, molecules will change. But "unstable molecules" simply increase the available energy and carry on the same as before.

Simple example

Consider a human muscle. The muscle receives an electrical signal to shorten so that a person can lift a heavy weight. If the weight is too great then the muscle cannot lift the weight. Why? Because there is not enough muscle tissue. Each cell cannot provide enough force. Why? Because the molecules that make up the cell have their limits. Through exercise you can build more muscle tissue, and through good nutrition you can improve the quality of the cells. If you ave lucky genes maybe you will have particularly good cells that arrange their molecules in optimal ways. But even the best weight lifter will have limits. However, if a muscle cell is made of "unstable molecules", when the electrical signal says "pull" then it pulls. it knows it must shorten, so it grabs as much extra energy as it needs. No matter what force is applied, the atoms do their required job. The molecules contract, the cell shortens, the muscle tissue pulls, and the required force is applied - even if it's a hundred tons.

Complex example

Some "unstable molecules" can be reconfigured to react not to local electrical stimuli but to distant stimuli. This is the basis of telekinesis, telepathy, or suddenly accessing the power of a sun. Note that mass and energy are the same thing at a subatomic scale, and higher dimensions are typically rolled up at this scale. Those higher dimensions are where the "unstable  molecule" information and energy are stored, and are why apparently distant atoms can be in contact.

And now... the Power Cosmic!

Where does all this energy come from? Some superheroes get vast quantities of energy in their atoms, so much that they can release it in massive blasts from their eyes or fingers. Where does all the energy come from? Simple: background energy, also known as zero point energy:

"All fledgling theories of quantum gravity also make a more general and even weirder prediction: the structure of space and time is very different from the gentle curves predicted by general relativity. The American physicist John Wheeler realized in the 1950s that if you look at things on a scale of about 10-35 meters, quantum fluctuations become powerful enough to play tricks with the geometry of the Universe. Space and time break down into "fuzziness" or "foaminess". A spaceship that size could find itself negotiating virtual black holes, or getting sucked into one wormhole after another and tossed back and forth in time and space."

- Michael Brooks, "Quantum foam" - New Scientist 19 June 1999

So it's weird and can be teleported to different places if you know how to do it. But how much energy can you get?

"Most people assume that the vacuum is empty. But according to quantum electrodynamics, the theory that describes the behavior of the Universe at the very small scale, nothing could be further from the truth. The vacuum is actually seething with electromagnetic energy called zero-point energy and it's this that Maclay hopes to tap. The "zero" in zero-point refers to the fact that if you were to cool the Universe to absolute zero, its lowest possible energy state, some energy would remain. Actually, rather a lot of energy. Physicists disagree over just how much, but Maclay has calculated that a region of the vacuum the size of a proton could contain as much energy as all the matter in the entire Universe."
- New Scientist, Energy unlimited


'Nuff said!

How each superpower works

Increases in mass

Earlier we saw that when a superhero transforms and increases in mass, the extra mass comes from the universe's background energy. That energy is also used to increase the distance between the atoms and the forces between them, otherwise the hero would be so heavy that they can't stand up.

Note that the hero's body is chemically the same (assuming they don't gain any additional super powers). At a subatomic level it is totally different, and the atoms are spread out more, but at a molecular level - the chemicals that make up the body - the hero seems completely unchanged, except for being bigger and heavier.

Blasts of cosmic energy

Cosmic blasts are the simplest power of all to explain. The hero's atoms take from the background energy and release it in a different form, either as high energy photons or vibrations (concussive blasts.)

Increases in strength:

Modest strength increases (to greatest-human-athlete levels) can be explained by simply increasing the size of the muscles.

Further strength increases (up to a few tons of lifting power) come from creating different molecular structures in the muscles.

Heavyweight class strength (hundreds or thousands of tons) comes from changing the forces between atoms. Note that each level of strength gain comes from a smaller and smaller scale. Each new level requires the body to be re-engineered at a smaller and smaller level.

Crazy Level Strength (millions of tons plus) really comes under the category or teleportation. The hero kicks the mountain and the mountain moves. The hero might THINK they have pushed it, but of course that kind of force would just crush the nearby rocks and leave the rest unchanged. What has really happened is that the hero has changed the atoms of the mountain itself so that they move. A variation on this is the Hulk's jumping. He often did it while carrying Rick Jones. Not only was Rick not killed by the massive acceleration and deceleration, but old Hulky did not leave giant craters. So his jumps were only partially jumps, and partially a form of flying (in an early story he even changed direction, mid-flight.) Nobody else has mastered this, so nobody else jumps like the Hulk.

This is explained in FF250, regarding Gladiator's unfeasible strength and how he can be weakened by self doubt. But both of those points apply to Ben as well.
The Hulk's lack of self doubt explains why he alone always operates at maximum strength. See Ben's page for why Ben and the Hulk appear to have different strength levels.

The telekineses theory of super powers was explored in great detail by comic fan "Hitesh" on the old message board rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe. Sadly very few of Hitesh's posts survive.

Bulletproof skin

Bulletproof skin is simply a result of holding the atoms together more tightly, so that greater force is required to pull the chemical bonds apart. It's just another application of energy.

The Human Torch

I mentioned the Human Torch burning underwater, so should perhaps explain how his power works. What we call fire is just molecules moving in a very energetic state, so they give off radiation in the form of heat and light. Fire in the normal sense requires fuel and oxygen, but anyone who can energize molecules sufficiently could create the same effect but with more heat, less heat, etc. Johnny Storm clearly does not need an external fuel source, so we can conclude that his form of fire is not the usual chemical reaction, but a more direct application of energy. So there is no reason why he needs oxygen for his flame. He clearly believes that he needs oxygen, and so his flame goes out when he believes there is none. Just as it went out once when Dr Doom (or someone, I forget) trapped all four of them in a sealed room, and they gasped for breath, but eventually realized it was all in their mind. In the same way, recent comics make clear that Ben Grimm is able to turn back and forth to the Thing at will, but (until recently) psychologically would not let himself.

Normally Johnny unconsciously believes that he needs oxygen to burn, so a simple fire hose is enough to put his flame out. The limitations of Johnny's flame are largely in his mind. He needs to have a clear idea of what his flame does in order to control it, so these psychological limits are a good thing. The only two times when he burned underwater were times of exceptional stress. The first time he was blinded by youthful energy, the second time Reed had left the team and Crustal had joined (while Johnny was married to the wrong person). Those were no ordinary times!

As for the Torch's flame objects, by controlling the forces between the molecules, he could also make flaming cages, lassos, walls, etc. It may seem strange that the objects would maintain their shape for a while after the Torch leaves, but that is hardly surprising: however the energy is processed within his body, it seems to take a conscious thought to turn it on and another to turn it off, but no constant effort to lave it on. Whatever processes are being used, they clearly work on their own as far as possible.

Finally, the control over other flame is just a manifestation of action at a distance (see force fields, below). Although not true flame, the effects are close enough to flame that the same processes that control Johnny's flame can also, with practice, control other flame. In the same way Johnny can make sure that he is never burned, and the energy only goes in one way. When his surface is at nova temperature, I strongly suspect that the temperature inside his body is rather less.


I have mentioned strength, changing size, and having bullet proof skin as examples of adding mass and changing he energy between atoms. It is pretty obvious that stretching can be explained by applying the same principles. Some atoms move further apart and others move closer, while they retain their chemical structure and behavior.

Note that stretching usually involves a change in mass and extra strength. Otherwise even a modest stretch would make an arm extremely thin and weak. Mr. Fantastic, for example, often changed his size as well as stretching, in the early days. He found it painful so he stopped doing it, but this is perfectly in keeping with his basic power.

Passing through walls

If an atom's mass is reduced to practically zero, yet it retains its chemical properties, the character can appear like a ghost. If the atomic forces are fine tuned so that they apply to other superhero atoms and not to their non-super surroundings, the hero can pass through walls like so many neutrinos, yet retain their shape and still be able to think. Clever, eh?


Many heroes have the power of flight. Some (like the vision) do it by changing their mass so they are the same density as air. Others have rockets or similar devices (see super-technology, below). Some do much more! This is how. Mass is often defined in terms of inertia. Hence the famous physics image of a rubber sheet with stars and planets distorting the rubber and causing other objects to roll towards them. Mass is simply our relation with other objects. Clearly, a hero with the ability to change their inertia could move, fly, or do a number other useful things, like avoid leaning over when a car they are in takes a sharp corner.

We see this in early issues of the Hulk. He would jump for miles, carrying people, yet they would not be killed by the sudden G-force. And he would even accelerate or change direction in mid-jump! Get a copy of Marvel Essential Hulk volume 1 and you’ll see plenty of examples of this. He thought he was just jumping, but clearly he was manipulating inertia. We see the same thing when a car crashes into him and it’s like hitting a brick wall. How much does the Hulk weigh, exactly? Something freaky is happening with his inertia. But the Hulk was never bright enough to realize he was messing with the rules of inertia, so he thought he was just standing there or jumping, and that’s the only way he could unconsciously control it. Later when he became a little smarter he stopped flying, because he realized it ought to be impossible. But we know better, eh readers?

Stopping speeding trains (or other massive or fast moving objects)

Stopping a speeding train is more than a matter of strength, it is a question of inertia. It doesn't matter how strong you are if a train hits you - you will be knocked off your feet because the train weighs more than you do. However, if a hero can affect the inertia of their atoms (or better still, the atoms of the train) then stopping a speeding train becomes easy.

Super speed

Super speed is just a combination of super strength, inertia, and (in extreme cases) teleportation, which are all dealt with separately. In this example, Lockjaw (the world's greatest superhero) demonstrates how teleportation and super speed are sometimes the same thing.


Sticking to walls, and the radioactive spider theory

I noted that bullet proof skin is a question of skin molecules sticking together more firmly than usual. Spider-man simply takes this a step further and has the ability to stick to walls. This brings up an important point. The hero may have his own theory about his powers, but it is only a theory. In science a theory is how we explain things until a better theory comes along. Spider-man thought that he had somehow gained the spider's own ability to stick to walls. In actual fact he simply gained a variation on the one mass-energy power. The radioactivity part was the important thing, not the "spider" part. The spider had somehow had its DNA changed, and some of its molecules were enhanced with the ability to change mass and energy to a limited extent. The wall thing was just a coincidence. Peter Parker did not gain spider characteristics, otherwise he would have eight legs, no lungs, and would be proportionately much weaker than before (see the discussion of height and strength elsewhere).

Force fields, telekinesis, and action at a distance

Some heroes have the ability to generate force fields of some kind. This is nothing more than making atoms stick together strongly, or repel other atoms. If the force field is invisible, it just means that light gets through. Big deal. Some force fields have color - Green Lantern's fields are green and Atom Eve's fields are pink. This simply means that some wavelengths of gradation are absorbed or emitted more than others.

It may seem amazing that someone can extend their abilities outside their own body, but however their atoms are controlled it must involve subatomic particles / radiation moving between them. It is no great feat of imagination to see that these particles or radiation could be flung a little further in some cases. Remember that the whole basis of superhero powers is unstable molecules - they act like normal molecules in most cases but can be fine tuned. In the case of action at a distance, the molecules are able to "read" the properties of other molecules, then adapt themselves to fit. For example, the telekinetic hero looks at the villain (and unconsciously singles out his atoms), then sends out particles that only interact with those molecules and not any others on the way.


Teleportation is much more common than you might think. How else do some heroes appear to travel faster than light, or move mountain-sized objects without breaking them? Teleportation seems difficult to us, but within the "unstable  molecule" theory it is easy. You just remove mass at one point and bring it back at another. As Stephen Hawking reminded us with his work on black holes, particles are constantly popping in and out of existence all the time, even in a vacuum. The teleporting superhero can simply control this normal behavior by manipulating their "unstable molecules".


Magic just refers to technology that we do not understand. As technology advances it becomes easier and easier to use, and requires smaller and smaller physical technology. Eventually it becomes controllable by simply saying some words (which are recognized and obeyed by "unstable molecules"). But this brings danger: what if people misuse this power and hurt someone? For that reason, super-advanced technology is protected by various tricks that ensure only the right people can use it. For example, the magic might require very unusual words or a magic object such as the Uru hammer (see Thor). Magic is simply highly advanced "unstable  molecule" technology that is not fully understood by its user.

How exactly does the most advanced technology (magic) work? By creating the smartest possible "unstable molecules", so they can control Background Energy, producing energy, increasing strength, teleporting, and all the rest, all designed to be used by saying certain words, putting on a magic belt, drawing a pentagram, or whatever. Note that magic works in a hierarchy: the most powerful magic is too dangerous to be given to mere mortals. So the average magician must call upon the demons or lower gods, if they can't do the job they in turn call upon the higher gods, and so on. It is just like using ordinary human technology: let's take transport for an example. A kid might own a bike, but must get help from parents if they need a car. The average western adult might own a car, but can't afford an airplane so must go to a business that runs airplanes. But if you want to go even faster you need to go to a government to get access to a spacecraft. Magic is just advanced technology, and it follows the same principles as primitive human technology.

You might ask, if magic is just advanced technology, why don't magic beings look like scientists? For the same reason that you can use a car but I bet you don't wear a white lab coat or talk with an Einstein accent when you drive. Advanced technology lets ordinary people do miraculous things as long as they learn the rules. Some very ancient beings (the gods) have spent centuries learning how to use magic and so they are very powerful indeed.

Where does the advanced technology come from in the first place? As any society advances its rate of progress increases exponentially. it finally reaches "the singularity," the time when every problem can be solved as quickly as it is imagined. At that stage the society transforms into some things that we lesser mortals can barely understand - let's call it pure energy. These are the guys who make the magic technology and run the universe.

Case study, by popular request: The Mighty Thor

To see how this all works, let's look at The Mighty Thor. Thor comes from a race that is both extremely ancient and in touch with numerous other dimensions and advanced races. So we should expect him to have a very high level of "unstable  molecule" sophistication, and indeed he does. Thor exhibits close to the full range of "unstable  molecule" abilities: extreme strength, bulletproof skin, teleporting (to other dimensions through the Uru hammer) and so on.

The really interesting thing about Thor is his use of magic. After centuries of contact with advanced beings of all descriptions, everything he does is entwined with magic of all kinds. As is normal with magic, he has to do things in a certain way (gain help from other beings, use the belt of power, the Uru hammer, and so on). Thor's power can sometimes increase dramatically (such as when he is in a berserker rage, or using the belt of power) - a sure sign of deep level "unstable  molecule" powers. "unstable  molecule"

energy is only limited by the user's skill and the arrangement of their atoms. In recent years he has mastered the Odin Power, one of the most advanced forms of magic in existence, attaining cosmic-level power, like Galactus and other cosmic beings.

In short, magic represents the most advanced uses of "unstable molecules", and Thor combines natural "unstable  molecule" abilities and the use of highly advanced magic. Thor is awesome!

Advanced technology

Advanced technology is dealt with on its own page. Basically, it's all based on alien technology. And the alien technology is based on "unstable molecules". It doesn't matter if you get super speed from your body, from a special suit, or from a space ship, it's the same principles at work. So there's no need to repeat everything again. Just read the rest of this page and you'll figure it out.

Iceman (Update, March 2007)

I wrote the rest of this page about a year ago, but I just discovered something that proves my thesis: Iceman from the X-Men! We all thought that Iceman could just, well, y’know, just create ice. And snowballs. And make things cold, and... er.... that’s about it really. Not the most powerful hero in the universe, right? Not exactly Phoenix class, right? Wrong! Actually it turns out that Iceman IS one of the most powerful beings in the universe, he IS Phoenix class (technically an Omega Class mutant). But how can this be, you ask? Read on and all will be revealed.

It turns out that a few years ago Bobby Drake (Iceman) had a run-in with Rachel Summers (another Omega class mutant) and she released some of his powers and explained how it works. For all these years we thought that little Bobby just had an overactive thyroid or something, but no! We were all wrong! Well you were wrong anyway. I was the one jumping up and down and pointing, saying “I told you so! I told you so!” It turns out that this snowball making power is just a manifestation of his ability to exchange mass and energy with water molecules, which in turn is a manifestation of his ability to exchange mass and energy with the surrounding universe. And these abilities are coded into everyone’s genes, no doubt at a subatomic level, by the Celestials no less. Everyone has the potential to do this but just does not know how to, so it’s pretty obvious that all superpowers can be traced to this subatomic mass energy potential.

So there you have it. The "unstable  molecule" theory is vindicated as the origin of all superpowers! They scoffed, they mocked, they didn’t believe me, but who’s laughing now, eh? The "unstable  molecule" theory rules the world! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahaha!


OK, true believer, now you know the secrets! Now you know everything you need to know to understand how super powers work. It's simple! No mumbo jumbo and hand waving about magic and transistors. Now you have the hard science. You are no longer an ignorant child, comic-wise. You have the secrets of the eternities and it is time for you to go forth into the wide world and use your newfound knowledge. May the power cosmic be with you! Class dismissed!

Next: the technology

The Great American Novel