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States of Phlebotinum

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Some Applied Phlebotinum come in multiple states, solid, liquid, gas, plasma, etc. Usually it's necessary to convert it from one state to another in order to use it. May involve Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment.

Sometimes the alternate state is inherently destructive, in which case it is Toxic Phlebotinum.

A practical manner of Holding Back the Phlebotinum. A writer wanting to assess new mind-blowing powers to their phlebotinum can avoid breaking the plot with the mere existence of such a thing by compartmentalizing the excessive powers to a specific state that will simply be used up or destroyed. Due to rarity or difficulty in making more, it never need be mentioned again.

Also can be used to neatly avert the Forgotten Phlebotinum problem. The basic phlebotinum already has established powers that would break the immediate plot if used that way, but instead the writer switches to a new state of the phlebotinum, essentially resetting the list of established powers to zero.


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    Live-Action TV 
  • Stargate SG-1 starts out with naquadah as a solid material of the Stargate, and running through the blood of Goa'uld. Later liquid naquadah is added as a small weapons ammo, then the refined, denser weapons-grade naquadah, and heavy liquid naquadah for a weapons satellite system. Also branches off this trope into naquadria, a much more powerful, yet inherently unstable and radioactive version; the Toxic Phlebotinum of the series. The Asgard flagship is mentioned as being of a "naquadah-trinium-carbon alloy" too. Essentially, the series plays this trope almost as an ongoing "Phlebotinum States on Demand".
  • Star Trek: The familiar dilithium crystal concept was later augmented with the introduction of trilithium, which is only useful for making star-destroying weapons. As such, this is the Toxic Phlebotinum version. Also mentioned is paralithium, which is only used with ion-based propulsion fuel, and relatively unimportant except for its use in creation of trilithium.

    • Protodermis generally comes in liquid, solid, and organic forms. Once raw liquid Protodermis is purified in Ga-Metru, it goes to Ta-Metru to be heated and then cooled to harden in ordered to be used in building and crafting as solid Protodermis.
    • Antidermis comes in liquid and gaseous forms, as well as solid if frozen.

    Video Games 

    Web Originals 
  • Mystic Energy in Phaeton can imitate solid, liquid, gas, plasma, gel, fog and states yet unknown to us, but in truth is actually none of these things.

    Western Animation 
  • In Transformers, Energon is normally a liquid, but in Beast Wars, there's a crystal form of Energon (implied to have been created by the Vok) which is notably more radioactive than the liquid form.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Almost everything comes in multiple states, solid, liquid, and vapor, along with non-Newtonian substances such as Oobleck.
  • However, the solid/liquid/gas phase is generally trivial to interchange. Structural differences (carbon vs graphite vs diamond) are often not trivial to interchange. Isotopes are most often separated out of a naturally occurring mixture. When isotopes need to be made, they often are made from completely unrelated elements, but in some cases are made from another isotope of the same element.
  • Though not to the extent of Newtonian states of matter, oil in its unrefined, crude form is hardly usable, but by heating it and putting it through a fractioning column, you derive multiple products that make up the cornerstone in, well, everything. The heavy bitumen at the bottom? Roads and roofs. The petroleum near the top is how you get to work in the morning (unless you take the bus which is several steps down), or you can use it as part of a gel to treat cuts, dry skin, rashes, et cetera. No wonder people are willing to spill blood for it.