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The Air Not There
A consequence of the Rule of Perception: Air, which you can't see, doesn't actually exist.

Some applications:

  • If you stop time, so that everything in the world is frozen in place except you, you can move around easily; you are not held immobile by the air molecules frozen in place around you. (Suffocating is also not a problem.)
  • If you can travel at Super Speed, you don't have to worry about air resistance or friction.
  • If you are teleporting somewhere, it's important to arrive in an empty space where you won't be intersecting any solid objects, but you don't have to worry about intersecting the air molecules that are probably swarming through your empty space.
  • You can carry antimatter around in the open, without worrying about it annihilating anything — provided it doesn't touch any solid objects.
  • If you are shrunk to the size of an ant, you can still breathe, even though your lungs are now trying to insert 'regular sized' air molecules into your bloodstream - like shoving volleyballs through the eye of a needle.

Related:
  • Frictionless Reentry: Atmospheric resistance and friction don't exist for spacecraft entering and leaving a planetary atmosphere.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Since breathing on Earth is possible and air is not there, it should be just as easy to breathe in space when the air is also not there.

For characters with superpowers, may be a consequence of Required Secondary Powers.

Examples

  • Frank Herbert's Heretics of Dune
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Wink of an Eye"
  • The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Burning Diamond"note 
  • UFO episode "Timelash"
  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "A Kind of Stop Watch"
  • Clockstoppers has hypertime watches that effectively stop time by making the wearer move really, really fast. The atmosphere never presents any problems (nor does their drastically increased mass, which is another thing that happens when you move fast enough to make time noticeably slower).
  • Momo, from the novel by Michael Ende, can move just fine even when everything else has been frozen in time.
  • The Outer Limits TOS episode "The Premonition"
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Next Phase". Geordi and Ro are accidentally phased so that they can pass through solid matter, but breathing (which is inhaling tiny particles of unphased matter) is not an issue. They can also talk to each other (expelling air to do so? nobody else can see or hear either of them). Ro's initial assumption that they have died in the accident and are actually ghosts makes more sense given the number of other things they can do but shouldn't be able to while phased.

Aversions

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Generally averted in Kimagure Orange Road: when the Esper protagonists teleport, it always causes a short but violent air displacement, both at the spots of departure and arrival. One episode feature the variant of time-stopped people ignoring air, though.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Guldo of the Ginyu Force can only stop time as long as he can hold his breath. This makes sense, since he wouldn't be able to breathe if the air was frozen in place.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura can move freely without minding the air while time is stopped, but she can't move through anything that is more substantial than it. Such as when Mami magically binds her or Kyouko bodily holds her. The not-breathing part though, can be waived because magical girls are lich.

    Comic Books 
  • Nightcrawler from the X-Men goes "BAMF" on teleporting in and out because he's displacing air molecules. The sound is actually the air collapsing on the space he has suddenly vacated (the 2nd movie actually uses a very realistic sound for the collapse of a human-sized vacuum). He also makes the sound when appearing because, presumably, the same thing is happening, just in reverse. Those molecules that were where he's appearing are pushed out of the way, and fast.
  • The various speedsters know as The Flash all have an aura specifically to protect them from air friction. (Wally West even once removed it from someone he was carrying...) A "possible future" story featured Wally's son, who had the Super Speed but not the aura, and was incapable of using his powers without being burned alive.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, when Edna Mode explains to Helen about the suits she designed for the Parr family, she mentions specifically making Dash's suit out of a material that can "withstand enormous amounts of friction without heating up or wearing out" so he can run hundreds of miles per hour in it. Regular cloth, in other words, would be worn down to shreds or burst into flame in a very short time.

    Literature 
  • In the novel Thief of Time, the Monks of History use special equipment to slow down time relative to themselves, but can still move and breathe because the time dilation field extends beyond their own bodies. This would have unfortunate effects if the field partly eclipsed a living thing, so extreme care with the equipment is needed. Susan, like the History Monks, carries her own little bubble of personal time with her; when she stops time and walks out in a snowstorm, she leaves a tunnel of empty air behind her because the snowflakes resume falling when she comes near.
  • In H. G. Wells's short story "The New Accelerator", moving thousands of times faster than normal causes the protagonists to heat up due to friction with the air.
  • In Wells's story "The Man Who Could Work Miracles", the title character stops the earth from spinning. Due to the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, the atmosphere starts going into space.
  • In the Doctor Who Tie-In Novel Nuclear Time, when the Doctor's personal timeline briefly un-reverses, he chokes on air that is suddenly being inhaled rather than exhaled.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys, it is strictly forbidden to activate the jumper prior to exiting the atmosphere. The protagonists are forced to do this when escaping, even though they know the displaced air may cause hurricanes.
  • The Cyborg and the Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evans is one of the few works with a Disintegrator Ray to consider the issue of the ray having to disintegrate all the intervening air molecules before it reaches its intended target.
  • Every instance of teleportation into air in the Young Wizards series is accompanied by a loud bang of displaced air, frequently described as sounding like a gunshot or a car backfiring. The gust of air has also knocked stuff over at least once.
  • In Good Omens, when the Hellhound transforms into a small terrier as per his master's wishes, the narration makes reference to the sound caused by air rushing into the vacuum it had previously occupied.
  • The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything by John D. MacDonald. The narrator describes the air as feeling thicker and harder to breathe, and being slightly resistant to movement. Semi-justified by the time-stopping gadget not literally stopping time, but slowing it down to where one second of slow time, subjectively perceived, equals one three-hundredth of a second in normal time.
  • In Stephen King's IT, every time Pennywise teleports away it's mentioned that there's a cracking noise as the air rushes to fill the suddenly empty space.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: It is subtle, but when ships perform FTL jumps, they cause a small, localised vaccuum around them. When air is present (inta-atmos jumps, leaking from space stations, etc.), it is seen getting sucked out alongside the jump. It should be noted that the FTL "bubble" around the ship sucks any matter, not just air. This was shown on several occasions, first when Galactica jumped just above the surface of New Caprica, causing huge gusts of wind as more air filled the newly-created vacuum, then when Boomer's jump away from Galactica tore the ailing ship's hull and later when a group of Raptors jumping from the unused landing bay caused the whole bay to rip like paper.
  • Similar to the Flash, Stephanie Powell from No Ordinary Family has a plasma shield which protects her from the friction of the air, and other similar issues.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Teleporting causes a distinct thunderclap as air rushes in to fill the now empty space.

    Web Original 


Sweetie GraffitiSublime RhymeThe Idiot from Osaka
Age Is RelativeRule of PerceptionAs You Know
    Hollywood ScienceArtistic License - Astronomy

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