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Minovsky Physics
aka: Minovsky Particle

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A major part of Speculative Fiction is taking what the real world has deemed impossible and making it plausible, then exploring how this will change the way society functions. This trope is a fictional science which has rigidly-adhered-to but useful physical properties. This ranges from a subatomic particle, molecule, mineral, element or form of energy, superficially it may resemble outright magic (or even be modified from a magical source) but is treated as a casual part of the technology level of society the same way oil or steel is used today. This kind of unobtanium is quite rare in fiction, as having more rules to follow tends to make things harder for the writers. It is essentially a justified Acceptable Break from Reality, aiding Willing Suspension of Disbelief by back-engineering in explanations for the weird bits.

Aside from pure flavoring, having some strict mechanics behind The 'Verse prevents it from easily slipping into pitfalls full of Misapplied Phlebotinum and thus helps to keep the setting to that of a hard sci-fi; in fact, settings with Minovsky Physics can be Like Reality, Unless Noted, especially if the particles are worked into the Anthropic Principles underpinning the story. For authors, this may be viewed as a Self-Imposed Challenge or a way to defuse the temptation of sneaking in New Powers as the Plot Demands and/or Forgot About His Powers.

The Trope Namer is the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam. Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted to write a Real Robot Genre anime. However, anyone remotely familiar with either engineering or military tactics will tell you that such devices are almost impossible to use effectively; a bipedal platform is needlessly complicated, hard to properly armor, and the easiest thing to shoot at on a battlefield. Enter the Minovsky Particle: an entire branch of science that provides humanity with powerful energy generators and Anti-Gravity technology. It is also an EMP-like, sensor-jamming, delicate-electronics wrecking Plot Device that not only renders all ranged targeting and guided missiles useless, but requires Helium-3 to produce. Consequently, humans had to go to space to get Helium-3, fight old-school, close-combat battles using systems capable of tricky microgravity maneuvering, and eventually standardize the technology to simplify maintenance. The result? A world full of Humongous Mecha — which, far from being contrived, seems like a natural evolution of military technology in light of the Minovsky Particle. And what's truly elegant is the metafiction: from a Doylist view, Mobile Suits made the particle necessary; but from the Watsonian or In-Universe view, it's the particle that made Mobile suits necessary.

A kind of Internal Consistency. A device which utilizes the particles that follow Minovsky Physics is a Schematized Prop. The fantasy equivalent is Magic A Is Magic A, which is less about plausibility and more about remaining consistent with the rules established. Contrast Green Rocks, which will do anything required of the plot, and Black Box, which is technology that simply works but no one understands.

Not to be confused with Minkowski spacetime, a theoretical construct in real-world physics that is currently used as the mainstream model for the shape and topology of our Universe (especially in formulations of Einstein's General Relativity).

Usually found All There in the Manual. When used to explain away magic, see Doing In the Wizard.

Before you add an example: Particles that adhere to Minovsky Physics have to have very rigid and well-defined properties.


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    Trope Namer 
  • The Other Wiki has plenty of details on how the Minovsky Particle works.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam, as noted above. So famous are these particles (presumably because they are all-but unique in modern fiction) that Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake gives a cheerful Shout-Out to Gundam by blaming the radar malfunction on 'Minovsky molecules.'
    • To note, the Minovsky Particles were designed specifically to allow or even encourage the existence of giant combat robots fighting hand-to-hand like ancient/medieval infantry (the biggest of which is messing with electromagnetic signals used in things like radar, preventing long-range targeting). The series creator has definitely read and possibly even written a few reports stating that with the advent of homing missiles, Drones, the ICBM and other automated weaponry, real-world modern/interstellar combat will take place at distances and speeds that make human involvement at anything past the planning stages dangerously wasteful, barring unpredicted advances such as the Minovsky Particle. This is also why he chose to use particle beam weapons instead of lasers.
    • Interestingly, the more well laid-out properties of the Minovsky Particle are actually more from Fan Wank, originally detailed in Gundam Century, which was written largely by editors of Magazine OUT along with the creators of Mobile Suit Gundam, a then-middle-schooler added quite a lot of thought in it as well. Later more elaborate explanations, by fans but endorsed officially, of the special powers of Newtypes are also explained by Minovsky particles (using already existing properties of the particles).
  • Used as a Mythology Gag in the 2nd season of SD Gundam Force in the form of the Minov Boundary Sea, a gap between worlds that gets damaged when special attacks are used in it with unpleasant results.
  • In Gundam Wing, the Vayeate used a Minovsky Particle Accelerator for its beam cannon, though this is really a Freeze-Frame Bonus and not an actual piece of technology.
    • Gundanium also merits a passing mention here, being an unspecified alloy that can only be manufactured by the Space Colonies. This sounds unlikely, but in actual fact is quite plausible, as liquid metal behaves very differently in microgravity.
  • Oddly, Gundam SEED's Mirage Colloid combined this and Applied Phlebotinum, as the particle is artificially made (not natural coincidence like the original Minovsky Particle and GN Particles).
    • Also, in the CE timeline, the Neutron Jammer's side effects are a reference to the Minovsky Effect.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has its own version in the form of GN ("Gundam Nucleus") Particles. Basically they do all the same things as Minovsky particles (produced via an exotic type of reactor, jam radar, allow non-aerodynamic machines to fly, and make beam weapons possible), along with a few new tricks (increasing the strength of armor and the cutting power of physical blades when they're permeated by the particles). In the second season, GN Particles go from Minovsky Particles to magical pixie dust, capable of performing such feats as evolving a person, magically healing dying people, and teleporting mobile suits at will. While these changes are essentially unexplained the series drops hints of it in absolutely every episode, and some of the more "ridiculous" effects are simply extrapolations of previously observed properties. Basically, the 'true' (green colored) GN Particles had always been magical pixie dust in a sense but humans and technology didn't catch up for all of fifty-two episodes. Aeolia's convoluted Master Plan was intended to facilitate this catching up before his created assistants decided to go off on their own tangent.
  • In Gundam Build Fighters, the Plavsky Particles animate the plastic used to make Gundam model kits, as well as allowing them to produce realistic weapon effects like bullets, missiles, beam blades, and even explosions. While there are rigid rules, the writers themselves occasionally seem to forget them; it's said that Plavsky Particles only react with the specific type of plastic used in Gundam model kits, yet later in the show people are seen to modify the plastic by grinding it down and mixing steel powder in it to increase its strength to scratch building whole units without any Gunpla parts (and Bandai does not sell Putty). The earlier Zaku Amazing example does not really stand because eventhough it is modified by a tank model, the main frame (the Zaku) is still a Gunpla.
    • Seeing as they were revealed to be a sort of "Wish granter" of sorts. This may have something to do with it.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has the Ahab particles, generated from Ahab reactors used for spacecraft and mobile suits. The power output of the reactors are unrivaled and also maintain their nanolaminate armor, a charged material that deflects Energy Weapons and results in the Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better nature of the setting. The Ahab Waves also disrupt conventional power systems, communications, guided weapons, and such. Thus usage of mobile suits are generally not allowed in urban areas due to the waves causing blackouts.

  • Digimon Tamers embraces this trope in a way that stands out from the rest of the franchise. In this series, there are only two fundamental changes to reality: Digital information can realise (i.e., literally become real in mid air) and actual artificial intelligence is not only possible, but has been achieved in the eighties. Furthermore, there is a great amount of detail put on explaining the working principles behind both (like the necessity for a converter algorithm). Otherwise, everything that happens in the series either obeys the rules of physics (especially because many of them did happen in Real Life) or is a consequence of the application of the Minovsky Physics.
  • Alchemy in Fullmetal Alchemist plays this trope pretty close, when you're not using a philosophers stone. While the second law of thermodynamics is thrown out the window, conservation of energy is usually held true.
    • Alchemists from Amestris learned alchemy from the sage from the east (Father) and think that their alchemy uses tectonic power. Alchemists from Xing learned alkahestry from the sage from the west (Hohenheim) and use ley lines. Xingese alchemists insinuate that the alchemists from Amestris don't have the full story and that something is "wrong" with their alchemy, and fans speculated that this was because Amestrian alchemy was powered by Father's stone. It's revealed that alchemists from Amestris do use tectonic power, but Father can limit or even shut off access to it by putting his philosopher's stone in the way as a barrier. This creeps out the Xingese, who can sense the souls from the stone writhing underneath the earth's surface. This is made much clearer in Brotherhood, where a piece of exposition explains the purpose of the nationwide reverse transmutation circle. It's there in the manga, the explanation just isn't as explicit. It's revealed that Hohenheim discovered the truth of this and spent part of his time wandering putting souls in place to reverse Father's nationwide transmutation circle. Meanwhile, Scar's brother also discovered it and designed a counter-circle, removing Father's barrier.
    • Also, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is adhered to so long as there is some dumping ground for the entropy removed by reorganizing the matter. Presumably, part of the matrix involves the transfer of entropy from the object being transmuted to the surroundings. As for the first anime, Dante makes direct reference to the Second Law by referring to wasted effort- while input of matter and energy is necessary to achieve what you seek, it is by no means sufficient.
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), the first and second laws of thermodynamics are actually plot elements and not simply handwaved. Mass is conserved and the energy comes from death on the other side of the gate.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The AT Fields generated by Evas and Angels function this way; since conventional arms can't pierce them, Evas became necessary as the only thing that could break through.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Inertron (see literature folder below).
    • Promethium is a metal invented by Steve Dayton. When alloyed with titanium and vanadium, depleted promethium forms a near-invulnerable metal. Volatile promethium is also capable of generating near-limitless amounts of energy, and so can be used as a power source for many gadgets.
  • The Invincible universe has smart atoms, atoms that are physically identical to regular matter but programmed to siphon background radiation from the universe to perform amazing feats under specific circumstances. Their applications are potentially limitless, but actually implementing them is so complicated that even advanced civilizations can barely scratch the surface. On Earth, they're generally used as either an incredibly powerful battery, to make durable supersuits, or to give people superpowers. The Viltrumites were advanced enough with it to biologically modify themselves into Flying Bricks capable of living thousand of years and interbreeding with wildly different, alien species.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Adamantium, a (nearly) indestructible metal which only the strongest/most powerful heroes or villains can begin to damage. It's a compound which is liquid until it sets, then stays in the given form forever. The robot villain Ultron is made of it.
    • Pym Particles, named after Hank Pym, which allow matter to be shrunk or enlarged at will, ignoring the Square-Cube Law and drawing extra mass (in the case of growing) from or shunting excess mass (in the case of shrinking) to another dimension. Pym Particles specifically adjust an object along three axes: size, strength and density, as illustrated by Ant-Man, Wonder Man and The Vision, whose respective powers apply Pym Particles on those axes.
    • Unstable Molecules, invented by Reed Richards, which can be tailored to 'snap back' from one form to another on command or in response to superpowers, and are used to make superhero costumes.
    • Vibranium, an alien metal with two subtypes: Antarctic vibranium, which can destroy any metal by touch (even Adamantium), and Wakandan vibranium, which absorbs all kinetic force (including sound).

    Fan Works 
  • Left Beyond does this with nuclear physics: it's possible to build reactors, but not bombs. The author justifies this in-universe via God Did It and out-of-universe with being uncomfortable posting in detail about the inner workings of a nuclear bomb.
  • Say It Thrice being a Danny Phantom/Beetlejuice crossover has ectoplasm.
    • The Ghost Zone and everything in it (especially the ghosts who originate there) are composed of it. Ectoplasm mimics more traditional molecular structures, but is not composed of any recognizable atoms or atomic particles. The structures and forms created by ectoplasm are stable while remaining malleable. The ability for the ectoplasm to mimic and interact with objects from the real world is imperfect (i.e. "phasing" through solid objects, turning invisible), but is effective enough to allow entities from the Ghost Zone to exist outside it. The ability for ghosts to enter the real world, be seen by humans, and affect it without being destroyed is due to the relative stability of the ectoplasm they are composed of. Destabilization of the ectoplasm takes a lot of energy (either added or taken out) and will eventually lead to complete collapse of the structure. The flexibility of ectoplasm and its ability to mimic normal forms of matter is also probably why it is possible for Danny to be half ghost.
  • Strategic Cyborg Evangelion uses Minovsky Physics based on Xenium, the crystals from Xen in Half-Life.
  • Ultraman Orion has (separate) pages devoted to the physics of the universe.

  • Unexpected as this trope may be in a Michael Bay film, Transformers: Age of Extinction goes in this direction with Transformium, providing an explanation of how transforming robots, which seem to have traits of both machines and biological entities, can exist. The short of it is that Transformers are built out of "living metal" protoform forged by alien creators out of organic matter, whose "genome" was in turn was cracked, reprogrammed, manufactured, and trademarked by a corrupt human corporation as Transformium, allowing them to create stuff that transforms into whatever they program. Note that it exists in limited supply (if it can't be created outright, it must be harvested from other robots), and the fact it requires organic planetary matter to exist provides brings implications of Hostile Terraforming that form up part of the movie's conflict.

  • "Inertron" and "Ultron" in Philip Francis Nowlan's 1928 novellas Armageddon 2419 A.D. and The Airlords of Han, which became the basis for the 1929 comic strip Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Both ultron and inertron are synthetic elements made of "ultronic vibrations" (which are akin to quarks in that Nowlan posits them to be to atoms what atoms are to molecules), which are "isolated from the ether and through slow processes built up into subelectronic, electronic and atomic forms" into miraclous substances with diametrically opposed physical properties. Ultron is "a solid of great molecular density and moderate elasticity, which has the property of being 100% conductive to those pulsations known as light, electricity and heat" and thus an invisible and nonreflective superconductor. Inertron is "completely inert to both electric and magnetic forces … has no molecular vibration whatever … reflects 100% of the heat and light impinging on it" and is thus not only a perfect shield against the Han Airlords' feared disintegrator ray but also an antigravity device, although that latter property involves a bit of handwaving in that it's never explained how inertron goes from simply having no weight to somehow having a negative weight, such that a sufficient amounts of it will either counterbalance a given weight, effectively making it weightless, or overbalance it to imparting buoyance. Left to itself, inertron "falls up" into outer space, presumably forever. Ultron would not only allow one to build the functional equivalent of Wonder Woman's invisible plane but, being superconductive, one should beware lightning and heat rays as well as disintegrators.
  • The "philotes" in the Ender's Game series, which are particles that are the true building blocks of matter. They can be used to communicate instantaneously across space, and can be manipulated into new creations in "Outside" space purely on the power of thought.
  • "Swivels" in the novel El Caballo de Troia, which allow the time travel that the whole series is based on.
  • "Ice-nine" in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Nothing more than a fictional crystal structure of ice, with specific physical properties similar to crystals of various other real-life compounds, it proves to be one of science fiction's most memorable MacGuffins. Vonnegut worked in the marketing department of General Electric as a younger man. His brother worked there as a researcher with Langmuir, who had much earlier dreamed up ice-nine for a visiting H.G. Wells, but nothing came of it.
  • Science fiction writer Larry Niven likes to explain the properties of all his Applied Phlebotinum in exquisite detail, often to the point of writing entire novels for the sole purpose of RetConning away flaws that readers find.
  • Found in the form of Dust (or, more properly, Rusakov particles, named for their creator) in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Dust, an elementary (read: indivisible, subatomic) particle, can only be seen either when vast quantities are for some reason all brought together, or through special emulsions. (Which can be improvised using bamboo and seedpods from a different universe. Seriously.) Dust's most interesting quality, though, is that it attracts itself to sentient beings - anything made by humans to aid in thought and observation will attract Dust, such as a ruler, and Dust also attracts itself to people - adults especially, and the wiser the better. It has been implied that Dust is essentially meant to be the exchange particle (boson) for consciousness or conscious thought.
  • Isaac Asimov liked to use this, and several of his stories have produced standard plot devices for science fiction:
    • Asimov once wrote a mock academic paper (and eventually a sequel or two) about "the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline", a substance with one chemical bond extending into the future, which dissolves before it actually comes in contact with water. (Pseudo-technical explanation: there's a carbon atom so sterically crowded that the only place one of its four substituents can go is through time.)
    • In a later Asimov story, a researcher tried to synthesize it, but accidentally produced antithiotimoline, with one bond extending into the past.
    • Spider Robinson later used thiotimoline to drive the plot of his Callahan's Crosstime Saloon short story "Mirror/rorriM".
    • Asimov's novel The Gods Themselves takes the premise of beings from another universe sending an impossible isotope of plutonium into ours, and extrapolates the consequences to drive much of the plot. For instance, the other universe's physics leak into our universe along with the Plutonium-186...
    • The Three Laws of Robotics and their implications, of course, are also examined in detail, despite being described in-story as layman's simplifications of the Technobabble robots are designed around.
      • Played amazingly straight in most of the "Three Laws" stories which centered around robots apparently breaking one of the Three Laws but, in actuality, they were just taking logical extensions or interpretations that the humans didn't think of when they wrote them (or were failing to see circumstances that were obvious to the robots). Robot saving throw?
      • In fact, if you read Asimov's works, his robots gain progressively finer and finer interpretation of the Three Laws, culminating in R. Daneel Olivaw creating the Zeroth Law of Robotics - "A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm".
  • The Edge Chronicles has a few. These include substances that get lighter when you heat them up, to the point of reaching negative weight (some of them at room temperature, others need to be set on fire). There's also something called stormphrax, made of crystallized lightning, which has a bewildering number of strictly defined uses. Then there's a variety of rock which gets heavier when you heat it up, which (being buoyant in atmosphere at room temperature) is used to make ships fly.
  • Before writing The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle asked physicist (Dan Alderson) to develop laws of their 'Verse. They told him what they wanted the proposed FTL drives to do, and what they wanted to avoid. Dr. Alderson then custom designed a FTL drive to spec, with additional limits. Niven and Pournelle kept within those limits. As a bonus, Alderson's drive equations also got them Deflector Shields.
  • Kenneth Oppel's trilogy Airborn utilizes a fictional gas known as hydrium, a gas so much lighter than air it can lift practically anything. The internal consistency of its properties (technically, a gas as light as hydrium couldn't actually exist as an element) has attention called to it constantly.
  • Rudyard Kipling's two science fiction stories rely on Fleury's Gas, an Unobtainium which, starting as a dense liquid, evaporates with such force (apparently its particles repel each other powerfully) that, after driving turbines, it expands to fill compartments with a soft vacuum under pressure. This provides the otherwise impossible "lifting gas lighter than hydrogen;" condensing it by exposure to Fleury's Ray, ready to evaporate again, provides endless power. A passing reference to radium is probably intended as technobabble, since radium was a scientific mystery at the time Kipling was writing, but implies to a modern reader that the energy source is nuclear.
  • Greg Egan:
    • Schild's Ladder pretty much runs on this trope, as it is based around the fictitious but believable "quantum graph theory" and the "Sarumpaet rules" that govern all fundamental interactions. It's been described as the "hardest science-fiction ever" with good reason.
    • He's gone quite a bit further with the trilogy Orthogonal, which takes place in a universe where spacetime follows the Riemannian rather than the usual (Minkowski) metric. (A minus sign is changed to a plus sign in one fundamental equation.) This leads to a raft of changes — light travels at different speeds depending on its color, and plants generate energy by emitting it, for one thing — and Egan has written a veritable physics textbook as a companion piece.
  • In Robert Forward's Dragon's Egg, nearly all of the human technology that doesn't already exist today is based on magnetic monopoles. Given that Dragon's Egg is diamond-hard science fiction, you can bet that these particles are well known by the Real Life scientific communitynote , and Forward takes great care to explain the physics behind the technology employing them. When the Cheela develop technology, micro-black holes are nearly omnipresent in it. Of course, for a space-faring civilization whose members explode in a low enough gravity (as in, less than a few hundred thousands times Earth's), portable black holes are pretty much a must.
  • The Tom Swift series uses two: Tomasite plastic, which can block ionizing radiation and is a good neutron absorber/reflector, thus making relatively small nuclear reactors practical, and the repelatron, essentially a pressor beam with rigidly defined properties; for example, a repelatron tuned to repel sea water in a given location, creating a dry construction area for a helium collection plant, must be adjusted constantly so its output will be exactly right, or it could fail to repel the sea water. Worse yet, it could repel the blood plasma in the workers! Tomasite is also very strong, and can be produced as a solid, an air-cell foam, and a vacuum-cell foam.
  • A.K. Dewdney's novel The Planiverse is about a two-dimensional universe. In addition to discussing some of the expected technological issues (how do you build things when driving a nail through a plank necessarily divides it into two pieces?), he goes so far as to work out what impact having only two spatial dimensions would have on chemistry (the periodic table is different).
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The impeller drive, which also has a secondary function as impenetrable shields over certain aspects of a ship's hull (as well as parts of the hull that can't be shielded when accelerating), and the limitations thereof, have repercussions in the design of ships, styles of space combat, weapons used, and customs of war that have show up constantly in the series. The technology is basically designed around making spaceships have to adopt "ship of the line"-style tactics IN SPACE!.
    • Other technologies in the Honorverse are also given this treatment, even if the audience isn't always privy to the rules. Mesa's seemingly-magical Mind Control virus is one example. As impressive as it is from a biotechnological standpoint, it is far more limited in capability than it might appear to an outside observer. It's not actually mind control — it only takes over a person's motor control to execute a short preprogrammed action — and has to be very carefully and painstakingly prepared in advance of its deployment. That is why it is never seen used outside of the very narrow range of applications for which it is suited.
    • Mesa's spider drive is another example. It's an innovative new take on the impeller drive that is stealthier than anything yet devised, but also lacks virtually all of the Required Secondary Powers that make a normal impeller drive practical in any other capacity besides stealth.
  • Skyward: As one would expect from a Brandon Sanderson sci-fi book. The exact properties of acclivity rings, light-lances, and grav-caps are clearly laid out and consistently followed.
  • A magical example can be found in the form of Luxin in the The Lightbringer Series. Drafters(magic users) absorb light and release it as Luxin, which has specific physical properties based on wavelength. This interacts with a light-fueled Background Magic Field that can be thrown off balance by overuse of certain wavelengths, or create additional effects by careful manipulation. The latter is considered a Dangerous Forbidden Technique at best and The Dark Arts at worst because of the dangers entailed with certain colors. Orange, for instance, is known to the public as a great machine grease and paint base, and to a handful of scholars as absolutely terrifying.
  • The "Holtzman Effect" is used in the Dune universe to explain many elements of that setting's Feudal Future. This singular effect is responsible for faster than light travel, personal barriers that make firearms useless, and the ability to defy gravity. In the sixth book it's stated that even the scientists who created it didn't fully understand the full implications of it - and after 15,000 years of intervening history, the current society knows far less about it than the inventors did. By the time of the main novels, it's just technology they know how to build by rote.
  • Andy Weir started out writing the hardest of hard sci-fi with The Martian: the orbital physics are so real, fans accurately calculated when the book is set. It became a bit softer in Artemis but his first "Minovsky particle" is the "Astrophage" in Project Hail Mary which has a few very well specified properties (ability to absorb huge amounts of energy and store it as mass, constant temperature etc.) that are highly plot-relevant. The "Xenonite" material that comes up in the story also counts.
  • Tress of the Emerald Sea has the aether spores, which rain down on the world of Lumar from the twelve moons and accumulate into vast seas. Exposure to salt or silver will kill spores. Each moon produces a different color of spores, which is associated with a specific substance, and if living spores come into contact with even the tiniest amount of water they will produce an explosion of the appropriate substance (Verdant spores produce an eruption of vines, zephyr spores produce an explosion of air, sunlight spores produce light and heat, and so on). A great deal of the world's technology is based on manipulating the spores (for example, cannons in this world use zephyr spores instead of gunpowder).

    Live-Action TV  
  • Star Trek has a very long list of fictional substances and their properties. Very rarely is any material given new abilities to fill a plot need: instead, the writers invent entirely new materials. Technical manuals all try to provide consistent explanations for the science and technology of the series.
    • Dilithium crystals are a fundamental aspect of the Star Trek universe, as all Federation starships use them for their Faster Than Light engines. They have basically one important property, they are able to safely interact with antimatter and produce a controlled reaction. They cannot be replicated and can decay in quality, which adds to some tension in either repairing the imperfections or finding new dilithium sources. note 
    • The foundation of their FTL engines is being able to bend the normal rules of the universe and push the ship into Subspace, which also assists in their FTL communication. The mechanics of Warp Drive are better defined and more consistent than Subspace, as some cosmetic changes makes it range from seeing a natural starscape passing by to being caught in a torrential tunnel of energy. It is common enough in Techno Babble that it may also be considered a type of Background Magic Field.
  • Wormhole physics in the Stargate-verse. All of these rules and more are extremely important and show up multiple times throughout all three series. When something happens that goes against the usual rules, figuring out what special circumstances made it possible will be a main focus of the episode. See the exceptions described below, all of which were unknown to the SGC until they had first-hand experience with them. Some examples:
    • Matter can only travel one way through the wormhole: from sending 'Gate to receiving 'Gate. Energy (eg, radio signals) can travel both ways.note 
    • The wormhole formed by a Stargate (much like real-world theories of stable wormholes) can only accommodate subatomic particles, and as such, the "event horizon" of the gate is really a "transporter"-type system that dematerializes matter before transmitting it through the wormhole for reconstruction by the receiving Gate. This permits storage of matter in a buffer in the gate in case of gate malfunctions.
    • A Stargate can only be open a maximum of 38 minutes (barring extremely high levels of energy or Time Dilation effects on one side)note .
    • Wormholes passing through solar flares cause anything traveling through them to Time Travel randomly (or not so randomly, if you have Sufficiently Advanced Technology that can predict the flares in advance).
    • The wormhole cannot form if dense physical matter is in its way (eg, the Gate is buried, but air doesn't impede the wormhole forming).
    • Stargates only transmit matter in single, continuous pieces. An object will only be sent through once it's fully entered the event horizon. The corollary to this is that an object extending through the event horizon will force the wormhole to remain open - like jamming your foot in a doorway to keep it from closing - until either its power is cut at the source, or the 38 minute window is reached. This is not a physical law, however, but a safety protocol programmed into it - if your eyeballs were teleported to another planet before the back of your head was, you'd be killed, so it waits for entire objects to enter before dematerializing and transmitting them. note 
    • Once an object enters a wormhole, in order to come out on the other side intact there has to be enough physical room to do so, otherwise it goes splat against whatever is blocking the Stargate. The SGC takes advantage of this with the Iris, which closes to form a barrier a few micrometers from the event horizon. If they have an incoming wormhole they can close the iris after it forms and anyone or anything trying to come through without permission gets smeared into paste much "like a bug hitting the windshield" of a speeding car. This makes it impossible to teleport nuclear bombs into the SGC's gate - well, the trigger mechanism won't survive, but it'll leave an unhealthy coating of uranium on the iris, requiring cleanup. The unstable vortex (the "whoosh") of a gate opening helps prevent telefragging of things going through the gate as it disintegrates any solid material it encounters. note 

    • Energized Protodermis is the catalyst for the events of the series due to it's ability to change whatever it comes into contact with depending on the object's destiny. Krana and Rahkshi are consistently created when their original ingredients are exposed to it, but sentient beings of the same species will experience drastically different mutations. If something has no destiny at all, Energized Protodermis will outright destroy it. It can also be used to consistently create Rahi (and implied to also be able to create other sentient beings, but only Artkha and the Great Beings know the actual recipe). Finally, when exposed to atmosphere, it acts as a terraforming agent which is how the island of Mata Nui was formed..
    • Antidermis is a gaseous compound that is the focus of the Inika series. It's most prominent property was mind controlling Matorans while also boosting the power of "strong" species like Brutaka or the Pirakas. Notably it is destroyed on contact with Energized Protodermis while also protecting any infected by Antidermis from the rest of the Energized Protodermis's effects. Later on it's revealed that Antidermis was not always gaseous and most of it's effects are likely a subversion; Antidermis was created by the Great Beings in a mimicry of Energized Protodermis and is what's used to create the Makuta, who are comprised of the stuff. They eventually evolved into a gaseous state where their consciousness is now tied to their antidermis. The stuff the Inika encountered? It was Teridax, who had a penchant for manipulating people via mind control or faustian deals.
    • Normal Protodermis is also this. It seems to hold a wide variety of properties depending on how it is forged, ranging from being able to act like cells in a body to being industrial construction material to being nanotech computers and everything in between. It is divided into different forms such as metalic, liquid, organic, and unrefined, each with their own properties, but in general it acts like a type of soft metal that can safely contain a lot of energy. It can be forged into Armor (most notably, Protosteel) or it can be found growing on most rahi. There's a reason it has so many properties; the entire Matoran Universe is made up of Protodermis as the Matoran Universe is Mata Nui's body; the normal Protodermis is literally the cells that make up his body.

    Tabletop Games  
Just about all games with Developer's Foresight have this to justify the Adventure-Friendly World.
  • BattleTech is Mundane Dogmatic save for One Big Lie or so;
    • The eponymous Battlemechs are the result of a super-myomer that is powerful enough to yank a building off its foundations — with a minimum length of a dozen meters. This means that a giant robot is a better platform for dozens of tons of weapons and armor than treads.
    • The Kearny-Fuchida drive needs a week of charging before every use, can't be used within a few days' travel from a habitable world (unless you really, really know the system and it's gravity wells), is too expensive to risk taking into star systems, and can't carry anything that's not in a phlebotinum-laced Dropship of limited size. This puts a very strict bottleneck on the number of mechs that can be transported from planet to planet, restricting battles to small, short affairs suitable to be played on a tabletop.
  • Chaos (which has varying degrees of sci-fi hardness; one section will seem to be trying to adhere almost rigidly to real life laws of physics, the next will be almost unmitigated fantasy—though this is most likely explained away by its nature as a scrapbook story with each section being ostensibly written by a different unreliable narrator) has the "scalon", the carrier particle (really particle-wave…okay, just wave) of a fifth fundamental force called the "divine force", or more commonly, the "chaotic force". The setup here is sort of similar to the Mass Effect example below: the Chaotic Force is a fundamental force, it's sort of like a mixture of electromagnetism on steroids and gravity in reverse. It conveniently answers a few of the questions plaguing physics today, such as, what is dark energy? It's the chaotic force! What gives matter its mass? It's the chaotic force! Because scalons (the Chaos counterpart of the Higgs boson, also known as scalar waves or torsion waves) can move at superluminal speeds and warp up space and time themselves (in fact, they essentially are just quanta of warped spacetime), there are really very few limits placed upon what they can do, and the various types of powers they enable, referred to collectively as "chaos bending", for all intents and purposes, are simply functional magic with a sci-fi technobabble explanation.
  • Starfleet Battles is MADE of this trope. Every possible interaction of everything with everything else is specified in the (extremely thick, but also extremely well organized) rule book. If you need to know how an obscure system used by a handful of ships by one race in a minor corner of the galaxy interacts with another obscure system used on a handful of ships by a different race in a different corner of the galaxy when in a unique terrain feature found in a third corner of the's in there, and you need to look in a maximum of three places (all of which you need to read anyway to be using those systems and terrain) to find it. That also makes it a hard-core case of All There in the Manual.
  • Warhammer 40,000 paradoxically plays this straight and inverts it at the same time. Chaos, its go-to Applied Phlebotinum, has the distinct property of being unpredictable, but acts unpredictable given this by being, to a degree, predictable. It's consistent in its nature of being entwined with the soul, affecting people with high psychic aptitude and areas of chaotic influence, but exactly how it affects these people and areas when it does so is characteristically unpredictable.

    Video Games  
  • Armored Core has Kojima particles, which are a pseudo-radioactive substance that powers the eponymous Humongous Mecha's energy shield, over boost, assault armor and some weapons. This extends to the Arms Forts as well. Most things in the world are powered by Kojima technology; the cost, however, is that it erodes all biological life. This is shown in-game when you're not allowed to use anything using Kojima Technology in or near a populated area. This is also shown to an extreme in For Answer where the earth is now completely devastated and mankind now lives in the sky due to the surface being polluted.
    • Kojima particles (or KP) are important for one reason: they are gaseous, but they act as solids when they colide with one another. Armored Cores generate and suspend clouds of KP around themselves to use as energy shields. This is called Primal Armor or PA. When projectiles or explosions pass through the PA, they compress the KP into its solid state, which allows it to slow them immensely or even stop them entirely. The Assault Armor function of PA has the AC eject its PA as a Sphere of Destruction. Anything in the path of the sphere will stall the KP and force them to crash into each other. Enemies hit by AA are essentially hit by a stone wall. Kojima weapons function similarly, only using beams of KP, missiles with KP payloads or "Kojima Knuckles". The use of KP for over boosting, however, goes unexplained.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops III there is a futuristic technology called "Direct Energy Air Defense" which renders air-to-ground and long range attacks useless as they accurately shoot down missiles and air-to-ground bombs, returning foot soldiers (human or otherwise) and ground combat into the spotlight.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series: Tiberium, in the early games, was well defined, but the third game in the series took it up a notch:
    For the development of Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, Electronic Arts decided to radically alter its composition, and commissioned scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide a white paper describing the biophysics of Tiberium, its atomic structure, its method of transmutation, the form of the radiation that it emits, and the way to harness it for powering machinery and weapons—giving it the same treatment as would be suitable for a scientific journal article on a real substance.
  • Quite a lot has been established on the mechanics of Slipspace in Halo.
  • Mass Effect: The titular phrase is not just the title of the franchise, but an in-universe term for the Minovsky Physics surrounding the myriad properties and uses of an exotic matter called "Element Zero," which is the critical resource that makes interstellar civilization possible. Element Zero, or "Eezo" for short, increases the mass of nearby matter when positively charged (allowing for things like kinetic barriers and Artificial Gravity), and decreases their mass when negatively charged, potentially even to a negative mass (hence the name "Mass Effect"), enabling anti-gravity vehicles and a perfectly researched form of Faster-Than-Light Travel.
    • In addition, a ''lot'' of effort is put into making this incredibly fictional material believable, including (but not limited to): Doppler shifting and Cherenkov radiation by mass effect fields, the effects of overexposure to eezo, which range from fatal tumors to Bizarre Baby Booms of "biotics", and regular static discharges when eezo cores are used in space. The end result is the most consistent world BioWare has yet made. A lot of thought went into the resulting implications of the technology — for example being unable to use stealth systems at FTL speeds because of the effects blueshift would have. It even points out how the ability of mass effect fields to reduce an object to negative mass negates Time Dilation. Throughout all this, conservation of energy is strictly enforced, but the internal consistency is not perfect: conservation of momentum is not always enforced, and some of the telekinetic effects that biotics are capable of shouldn't be possible even by the principles of mass effect fields.
      • Interestingly, the originally planned but abandoned story for 3 would have taken this "research" further and revolved around the above mentioned negative effects of playing around with physics like this. Some of the groundwork for this story can be seen in 2. Specifically, overuse of the Mass Effect wreaks havoc with Dark Matter, ultimately leading to low mass stars going supernova at a "young" age. The Reapers knew this but didn't have a way of preventing it, so would periodically wipe out advanced civilizations as a stopgap measure to restrict the use of the Mass Effect and thus stave off the eventual damage.
  • No Man's Sky utilizes an alternative periodic table of the elements to help with worldbuilding. Nothing much has been established on how it works, but it is known that it helps with making the procedurally-generated worlds unique due to how much or how little a planet has of an element.
  • In Phantasy Star Universe and other games set in its continuity, photons work very differently than in the real world. Similar to Mass Effect, much of the technology as well as magic found in the games depend on the unique properties of photons. Information about how they work, and how Photon and A-Photon based technology utilize them, is found scattered throughout dialogue in the games and the Universe Bible.
  • The world of Tales of the Abyss, Auldrant, is made up of particles called fonons. These particles exist in everything and fall into the seven elements in the order of Darkness, Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Light and Sound with each element being created by a fonon vibrating at a specific frequency. While the first six don't have much use outside dealing damage of thier element, Sound is incredibly useful. Since both fonons and sound are made from vibration, people who can control the Sound Fonons can do things such as heal, read the future, and replicate objects and people.
  • In A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky, the properties of saecelium are remarkably well-defined: As Solomon says in his third message, "when properly refined, [it] exists in a liminal space between realities", and as such is fixed in spacetime relative to other saecelium; it outputs a fixed amount of power for a stable crystal of a given size; and fallout from unstable saecelium has (for the most part) known effects.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 sets a lot of consistent rules for Ether particles, the stuff that makes up the game's Background Magic Field:
    • Humans, as a rule, can't access Ether by themselves. A bonded Blade draws in the energy from the surrounding Ether and passes it along to their Driver to use. Blades can use Ether on their own, but not as well as a Driver.
    • Ether energy exists in elemental dichotomies, and they cancel each other out: a fire Blade is weakened when they get wet, a lightning Blade can't do much about an inert boulder, and so on.
    • Blades aren't the only thing that can use ether energy. Some substances can block or absorb it, which can choke Blades of the energy necessary to fight. While the technology is in its infancy, using machines to harvest Ether energy to perform work exists as a proof-of-concept.
    • Ether particles are subject to the normal laws of thermodynamics. As an area approaches absolute zero, they lose energy.
    • Pyra and Mythra can break a lot of the rules, but that's explained: their core crystal, Pneuma, draws its power from the Conduit, a.k.a. the Zohar, which is an established wildcard in the Xeno-series cosmology.

  • Despite looking like A Wizard Did It, Lux in Tales of the Questor follows some rather specific rules and capabilities. Most of the underlying rules are only revealed by Word of God in the forums, but for a funky and surprisingly stable particle with rather specialized interactions with typical matter, its practitioners are still more intent on viewing it as a science than a matter of magic.
  • Tratons in Unicorn Jelly, Tryslmaistan's equivalent of atoms. Instead of mass-attraction gravity, there's Linovection and Planovection, the Electanic Charge. She keeps up the habit in Pastel Defender Heliotrope with an entirely different dynamic system of Chatoyance.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Post-Trans-Uranic alloys (PTUs) are a type of metal inspired by the very real theory of the "island of stability, where very high atomic elements might be stable ... if you can fuse them. PTUs can be chiefly used to create Annihilation (Annie) power plants which, due to a process that remained unexplained, can be used to create prodigious amounts of energy and manipulate gravitational fields (which leads to most flying objects using a Reactionless Drive). This method of energy production is generally considered much safer than antimatter and well beyond fusion power. Unfortunately creating PTUs requires enormous energy by itself, which presents a bootstrap problem. Humanity was given a small Annie plant to let them create their own. A nation's ability to source and create PTUs is the basis for their economic activity.

    Web Original  
  • Magmatter from Orion's Arm is an incredibly detailed version heavily based on real scientific speculation. It's a type of exotic matter that's super-strong, super-dense and (depending on the type) converts normal matter into energy and is a perfect reflector for electromagnetic radiation. It's used to make nigh-indestructible cables, braces, rocket nozzles and military armour, and as the key component in conversion reactors and conversion drives (which generate power and propel spaceships, respectively).
  • Phaeton has several elements like this, icluding zero elements, which significantly reduce powers to the point of being useless, and memory elements, which when bent or even broken will return to their last safe shape.
  • In RWBY, everyone possesses "Aura" - a sort of energy field created and powered by the soul. Aura itself is loosely defined, but it has a set of internally-consistent effects. For example, it projects a defensive field around the body when active that deflects most incoming energy, though some force penetrates it and can knock a person around or cause pain. It can be used to power superhuman feats such as massive leaps, lifting enormous weights, or striking armored machines or monsters with melee weapons or fists. It can be channeled into weapons, armor, and attacks, which explains the lack of clothing damage. It is also used to power Semblances, which are unique powers specific to each individual, which also adhere to their own internal rules per person. If someone's Aura is depleted, they lose most of its offensive and defensive benefits, and they cannot use their Semblance anymore until it regenerates.
  • Pattern theory, in the Whateley Universe. Used in order to explain where the energy for mutant superpowers comes from, and how mutants use it. It also limits the strength and scope of the possible superpowers, so a flying brick who can lift five tons is a really big deal.

    Western Animation  
  • Transformers: Energon is a borderline case; while it was given many more powers than it used to have when it was made the focus of Transformers: Energon, it shares certain properties that remain constant. It is an energy source for the Transformers that come in both solid and liquid forms, has Power Glows, and goes kaboom quite nicely when manhandled. In its natural state, though, it is unstable and gives off radiation that's hurtful to Transformers in large concentrations (though confusingly organic material is generally immune to it).
    • It's also the life blood of Transformers and Transformer life in general, as it's their fuel, the fuel for their weaponry, and used as currency. Any constantly-glowy melee weapon will also be called an Energon Whatever (presumably meaning it's powered by energon, rather than being made of the stuff, because stuff that explodes when struck doesn't make a good sword.) However, some series have somewhat different rules for the stuff:
    • Transformers: Energon is a series where all the usual rules are kept, but it does a lot more, gaining New Powers as the Plot Demands, due to the amount of focus. We meet the Omnicons, who through millennia of Acquired Poison Immunity, can handle raw energon, and are the craftsbots who turn it into usable forms. Terrorcons, created from Unicron's body, can eat raw energon and generate processed energon. Energon Stars are the main form of processed energon, not cubes, and they can be plugged into Autobots, having the same effect as normal energon consumption in most series... or it can make new weapons appear out of thin air, heal massive damage as if by magic, and restore life to dead planets, mechanical and organic, and is said to be the building block of all life everywhere. Also, raw energon is yellow. When processed, the energon made by Omnicons and used by the Autobots is red, and is as deadly as raw energon - perhaps more - to Decepticons. Terrorcon-made, Decepticon-used energon is green and is similarly deadly to Autobots. Major Fridge Logic here - apparently, that makes the two factions different biologically somehow, and who knows what that means for when someone changes sides (If Wheeljack or Scavenger were still around, what kind would they use/avoid? And neutrals?) Oh, and letting the two types mix is very bad. There's also Super Energon - always liquid, will either supercharge you or kill you dead. Mind you, a lot (not all) of the unique properties of energon in this series, though not mentioned elsewhere, are also not contradicted.
    • In Transformers: Prime the Autobots have been able to create synthetic energon, which can be a substitute for normal energon. Also, energon as "lifeblood" was usually symbolic, but liquid that is explicitly energon drips from wounded transformers in this series (fandom has long considered this to be the case, but it was not done onscreen until Prime, Prime also being the only series in which exposure to raw energon isn't harmful.note . Here, energon is food/lifeblood/fuel/etc, and consumption of raw energon has proven to be a useful substitute in cases where the liquid, processed thing is unavaiable - albeit a subpar one. Notably though, the series does establish that energon is very harmful to humans if it comes into contact with our nervous systems.
    • In Beast Wars episode Power Surge, the Predacon Terrosaur, is running low on energy and is far from base. He gets a charge off a surface-exposed chunk of raw energon. It powers him up, but repeated use proves addictive and nearly fatal. This ties in with raw energon is dangerous to Transformers.

Alternative Title(s): Minovsky Particle, Phlebotinum A Is Phlebotinum A, Physics A Is Physics A