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Physique Atomique
Being an Essay Detailing an
Atomic Theory of the Elemental Planes

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Voila Says:

Voila!Beauty is in the Small Things

And let's face it, cutter, you don't get much smaller than atoms. What are they? Why, atoms are tiny bits of matter, so small you can't see them, smell them, or cut them into smaller pieces. And some sages reckon everything's made out of them. Now they come in different shapes, sizes and colours (though how the same sages know they're coloured when they can't see them is a question perhaps best left to wiser bloods than I to answer), and this relates to the elements they're made from. Add positive and negative energy and you've got quite a soup of the things already!

This essay fluttered into my hands on the wings of an astral streaker. I've never met the author, the alleged "Sage of Everything", but I've heard this cutter's got one of the sharpest minds this side of the Plane of Minerals. Amongst many other subjects, he, or she (or neither -- who's counting?) specialised in the esoteric (and very small!) realm of physical atomic theory. Since I'm almost as clueless about that as you, I'll stop rattling my own bone-box and finish recording the essay into the Scholar Mimir for you...

The Physics of the Elemental Planes

Part 1: Introduction to Basic Elemental Particles

In which is introduced the basic terms used in this work, and some of the underlying concepts.

All matter is composed of four basic particles. These particles are all called atoms. Each of these types of atoms has a different shape, that gives it its characteristic properties. These four atoms are Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Air atoms are long, thin, and wispy. Earth atoms are compact, dense, and blocky. Fire atoms are light, jagged, and sized somewhere in between Earth and Air. Water atoms are smooth, rounded, and about the same size as Fire, but heavier.

In addition to these basic properties, the atoms can have spin. The spin can be either negative or positive. A atom of any element without spin is the basic form of the element. When spin, either positive or negative, is applied, the properties of the atom change. When a atom achieves spin beyond a certain level, it becomes pure energy, either positive or negative, depending on what spin the atom had. At a point halfway between no spin and becoming either positive or negative energy, the elemental atoms become known as quasi-elemental atoms. Atoms can also interact with one another. When atoms of different types join, in a ratio of one to one, they create the materials known as para-elemental atoms. However, the elemental atoms cannot interact with one another perfectly freely.

Each type of elemental atom has an oppositional atom to which it cannot bond, because of their basic incompatibility. Air cannot join directly to Earth, and Water cannot join directly to Fire.

In many materials, however, a non opposing atom can join two atoms in opposition, as in a water atom joining an air and an earth atom.

Finally, when all the atoms in para-elemental matter have spin enough to make them quasi-elemental atoms, the para-elemental matter becomes quasi-para-elemental matter.

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Part 2: The Properties of the Basic Elements

In which is discussed in greater detail the properties of each of the four basic elemental molecules.

Fire atoms are, as stated before, jagged, fairly light, and middle sized. Of all the elements, fire atoms are the most able to break the bonds holding other atoms together, because of their sharp nature. This is why simply touching fire is often enough to damage things, as the fire atoms sever the atomic bonds. Fire atoms also have weak bonds with each other. Not only do their jagged surfaces present small area for bonding, their own neighbours tend to break up bonds quickly. Fire atoms will not bond with water atoms, because the water atoms are so smooth that the fire cannot grip them. Fire atoms are usually coloured red, and is transparent. It usually gives off more light than most atoms, naturally tending to have more positive spin than other atoms.

Earth atoms are blocky, dense, and solid. They are the smallest atoms in volume, although their density makes them the heaviest. Because earth is so blocky, it piles up in large stable heaps, and the bonds between atoms are strong, because they happen over all touching surfaces, of which earth has more than any other atoms. Earth atoms do not bond well with air atoms. Air atoms have little surface area to bond to, and the cohesion groups of earth atoms tend to prevent air atoms from curling around them and gaining a good grip. Most earth atoms are not transparent. There is no space between the atoms for light to get through. Earth atoms can be many different colours, however. Most earth atoms do not emit light. They are the most stable atom, and are thus the hardest to alter or damage.

Water atoms are smooth, rounded particles, often spherical. They are about the same size as fire atoms. Because of their smooth surfaces, they tend to have the weakest connections with other atoms of all the elements, except fire. They refuse to bond to fire atoms, for reasons already discussed. Water atoms tend to act like lubrication to other atoms. Most water atoms are bluish or greenish, and have about the same degree of transparency that fire atoms have.

Air atoms are long, fine, string-like particles. They are the lightest, and the largest in terms of length, of all atoms. They have fairly good cohesion with each other, since they can wind themselves up into large tangles. This also allows them to bond with fire and water atoms, by fitting in the crevices of fire atoms, and following the curves of water atoms. They do not bond well with earth atoms, as previously mentioned. Most air atoms are transparent to the point of invisibility, the opposite of earth atoms.

Part 3: The Properties of Para-Elemental Matter

In which is discussed the properties of the matter that is formed when two types of atoms combine in a one to one ratio.

When the elements of fire and earth combine, magma is formed. Magma takes the flexibility and changefulness of fire, and adds it to the solidity of earth, to get a shifting, but viscous material. Magma is not as light as fire, as its earthy nature holds it down. However, magma is much more fluid than earth. Because of the fire particles in magma, simply touching it will often sever the atomic bonds of other materials. Magma is usually a dark red colour, combining the colours of fire and earth. It takes its opacity from its earth part, not usually letting light through.

When the elements of earth and water combine, ooze is formed. The atoms of water in ooze lubricate the atoms of earth, creating a fluid substance. Because water tends not to bond to earth very well, this substance is even more fluid and divisible than magma. Once again, the earth in the material tends to hold it down. Ooze tends to be a dark colour, similar to the earth atoms that make it up. Water atoms are too transparent to impart much colour to a material.

When water and air combine, ice is created. The atoms of air wrap themselves around and through the atoms of water, holding them firmly together. The result is a material that appears solid, but is actually fluid, although it moves very slowly. The air atoms in ice form large knots, holding the material together under stress, but not for very long. Ice is usually white or blue, and somewhat transparent, because of both the air and the water in it.

Smoke is formed when air and fire mix. The air wraps around the fire, keeping it cohesive, but the fire tends to sever the bonds, so smoke is very easily separated and broken up. Since both the air and the fire parts of smoke are light, smoke is the lightest of the para-elements, forming clouds that float easily. The air atoms tend to shield people from the fire atoms, but sensitive areas, like eyes and lungs, can still be damaged by the sharp fire atoms. Smoke is usually greyish, since the air in it is transparent, but the fire is usually coloured, and this produces a cloudy substance.

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Part 4: The Properties of Quasi-Elemental Matter

In which is described the effects of positive and negative spin on the elemental atoms, and the properties of the resulting materials.

There are two general rules that apply to all atoms when spin is applied to them. First, when one type of spin changes an atom in one way, then the other type of spin will tend to change the atom in the opposite direction. For example, if an atom tends to increase in size when positive spin is applied, then it will tend to decrease in size when negative spin is applied. Secondly, atoms with positive spin tend to emit light, making them brightly coloured, if not glowing, whereas atoms with negative spin tend to absorb light, making them dull coloured, if not black.

When positive spin is applied to fire atoms, they begin to shrink, and their edges grow even sharper. Eventually, they become atoms of radiance. Because radiance atoms are so small, they are less able to cut the bonds of other atoms. However, prolonged exposure to large amounts of radiance atoms does sever the atomic bonds. Also, radiance atoms are far lighter and faster moving than fire atoms. When negative spin is applied to fire atoms, the reverse happens. They become, slower, heavier, larger, and their edges are less pronounced. Ultimately, they become ash atoms. Ash atoms are dull grey, and can hardly sever atomic bonds at all.

When positive spin is given to earth atoms, they become larger, clearer, heavier, and even more angular. They become atoms of mineral. Mineral atoms, while they do not usually glow, are very bright in existing light. They are often sharp enough to sever atomic bonds. When negative spin is applied, earth atoms become smaller, lighter, and more rounded. They take on a greyish colour. They become atoms of dust.

When water atoms gain a positive spin, they become smaller, lighter, and less willing to bond to other atoms, becoming steam atoms. Steam is even more transparent than water is, being hardly visible at all. Negatively spinning water atoms become heavier, larger, and bond more with other atoms, eventually forming a somewhat solid mass. They become atoms of salt. Salt is less transparent than water, coloured an opaque white.

Air atoms spinning positively become longer, larger, and more willing to touch other types of atoms. They turn into atoms of lightning. Lightning atoms glow so much that they light up the area they are in, much like radiance atoms. Lightning bolts are formed of long air atoms rushing through the air, glowing. Negatively spinning air atoms become smaller, shorter, and much less willing to touch other types of atoms. They are called vacuum atoms. Vacuum atoms are not only transparent, they are completely invisible, absorbing low light levels and appearing black.

Part 5: Properties of Quasi-Para-Elemental Matter

In which is described the effect of positive and negative spin on the para-elemental materials.

When magma, a mixture of earth and fire, has positive spin applied to it, the effects of the two elements becoming their positively spinning counterparts become obvious. Both forms of atoms become sharper, making obsidian a dangerously cutting material. However, earth becomes heavier and larger, while fire becomes lighter and smaller. The earth wins the conflict between these tendencies, making obsidian a hard, heavy substance. But because of the fire contained within it, it is not as heavy as mineral. Since both materials become more transparent as they gain positive spin, obsidian is a dimly transparent material. When negative spin is added to magma, the reverse happens. The material formed, pumice, is made of many small particles. However, pumice is abrasive. What happens is the now smaller earth atoms attach themselves to the surface of the larger fire atoms, forming sharp cutting surfaces that can sever atomic bonds. Pumice is light, since both fire and earth do not become really heavy with the addition of negative spin. Pumice is opaque, because both earth and fire lose transparency when negative spin is added.

When ooze, a combination of water and earth, gains positive energy, it becomes clay. Because of the earth in it, becoming harder and larger, clay is less viscous than ooze. It is a stiffer material. However, the water in it keeps it somewhat mutable. Since earth atoms gain colour with positive spin, clay is much more colourful than ooze. Although positively spinning water atoms become light and small, earth atoms become large and heavy, so clay has a net gain in weight from its ooze form. When ooze is negatively spun, it becomes silt. Silt is slightly more viscous than ooze. The water atoms in ooze become harder, larger, and heavier with negative spin, while the earth atoms become smaller, lighter, and more rounded, but the earth loses a little less the water gains, so the net result is a material very similar to ooze, except with slightly more particles in it.

The combination of water and air, ice, becomes crystal when spun positively. The positive air lends its long, strong atoms to holding together a strong structure, while the positive water lends transparency. Because of the positive air atoms tendency to hold onto other atoms, the resulting crystal is strong and structured. The material formed is sharp and jagged, very similar to mineral. However, crystal lacks mineral's characteristic multiple colours, instead being white, transparent, or even invisible. The positive spin on the atoms of air make all crystal glow to a greater or lesser extent, however. When negative spin is applied to ice, it becomes frost. The light air atoms become even smaller, bearing the now sharp and heavy water atoms into the air, as frost. Frost is opaque, because of the colour of salt atoms. However, the salt atoms are evenly distributed through the small vacuum atoms, creating a swarm of sharp edged atoms whirling through the air.

Smoke is the material formed by joining atoms of air and fire. When positive spin is added to smoke, it becomes spark. The long, strong lightning atoms hold the small, sharp radiance atoms together. The light emitted by this material tends to concentrate on the atoms of radiance, forming what appear to be small globs of light rushing through space. However, these bits of light are actually connected by long lightning atoms. The radiance atoms are often collected in large bunches by the air atoms, and in such large numbers, the radiance can cut atomic bonds easily. When negative spin is applied to smoke, it becomes fumes. The small, short vacuum atoms carry the larger ash atoms into everything, giving the edges on the ash a chance to cut, even though they are much duller than normal fire atoms. This makes fume a very corrosive material, eating away at many things. Because ash atoms are opaque, and vacuum atoms are transparent, fume appears to be a slightly transparent cloud, of a dull greyish black colour.

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Part 6: How the Basic Elements, Para-Elements, Quasi-Elements, and Quasi-Para Elements Form More Complex Material

In which are discussed more complex materials and processes, including life and death.

All the various types of elemental matter combine in complex ways to make up the world we live in. For instance, most materials, especially living or once living materials, contain all four basic elemental atoms in different proportions. This explains many natural phenomena. For instance, when wood burns, some the fire atoms contained in it are released, many carrying positive spin from other atoms in the wood with them. It is important to note that in an elemental reaction, if one atom gains spin at the expense of another, it can continue to gain spin of that type, even after the other atom has no spin of that type left to give.

At that point, the atom giving up its spin begins to gain spin of the opposite orientation. Some of the fire atoms gain enough positive energy to escape as radiance. Others combine with air to form smoke. Some of these particles gain enough positive spin to become sparks, while a few others become fume. Much air escapes unchanged, not spun positively or negatively. Most of the water atoms in the wood gain positive spin, and become steam atoms. Meanwhile, the earth atoms and some of the fire atoms in the wood are losing positive spin to give positive spin to other atoms, turning the atoms into dust and ash. This reaction continues, moving down through the wood, with the negatively spun fire atoms regaining spin from those below them, and escaping, and the earth atoms simply settling down to the bottom of the pile. Eventually, there are not enough atoms with positive spin left to fuel the escaping fire atoms, and the fire goes out.

Life is one of the most complicated elemental reactions in the multiverse. All 12 of the major atomic types are in constant reaction and adjustment with each other. In normal living beings, the reactions usually require positive spin to carry out, and tend to produce negatively spinning atoms, which living beings must discard. To get a constant source of positive energy, atoms must be acquired from the environment. Plants do this by absorbing radiance atoms, and using the powerful positive energy stored in them to fuel their systems. Animals eat plants to get the stores of positive energy in their tissues, and so on up the food chain. Living beings must also consume atoms to rebuild their tissues.

Each atom type plays vital roles in life systems. Earth stabilises and provides structure, water lubricates, air moves atoms around, and fire severs bonds that are not needed. All the lesser atoms also have their own role in life. Although most beings on the prime material planes, and the outer planes, are made of a roughly equal amount of atoms of each type, beings from the various elemental planes have body structures primarily composed of the atom or atoms most common on their plane of residence. Often, this means that elemental beings are less complex.

While life does replenish itself, not all beings are capable of constantly replenishing themselves. Many beings slowly "run down," using up a little more positive energy than they gain during each reaction. Eventually, the being will not have enough positive energy to keep the complex elemental reactions going, and they begin to break down, collapsing and crumbling. This is called death. Some creatures can postpone this longer than others, and some creatures, because of their extremely efficient reactions, actually never run out - any of their body reactions produces as much positive energy as it consumes.

Sometimes, after a being has died, magic will reverse the process, using negative energy to fuel the opposite elemental reactions as occurred in life. This causes one of two things. If the energy is timed right, and is enough, the elemental reactions can completely reverse, bringing a dead being back to life. This usually only works, however, if the reactions were brought to a halt prematurely, through interference with the normal functioning of the body. This cannot usually happen if the positive energy simply ran out. This is how a priest can bring a body back from the dead, although it requires a god's power to return the soul to that body.

The other thing that can happen when negative reactions replace positive reactions is that the body can become the opposite of a living being - an undead being. Note that zombies and skeletons do not fall into this category. These beings are simply animated corpses, with spells to slow or stop the elemental reactions causing rotting. Only free-willed undead are truly the reverse of the living. In some undead, only the most basic functions are reversed to use negative energy, enough to keep the undead movable and thinking. Other reactions are left alone, thus causing the characteristic rotted look of many undead - these reactions have been allowed to proceed. In other undead, almost all reactions have been reversed, making the undead creature to be almost alive. The vampire, the undead that appears most similar to a living being, the reversal has proceeded the furthest.

Many of the vampire's elemental reactions are positive ones, like it used in life. Thus, it needs a ready source of positive energy to keep these reactions functional. (Note that these comments apply only to corporeal undead - bodiless undead are actually spirits given limited ability to take solid form.) It is the presence of negative energy reactions that cause the "energy drain" that is so dangerous to living beings. Living beings' elemental reactions are not designed to deal with large amounts of negative energy at one time, and the extra negative energy breaks down the living being's normal reactions, hitting especially hard in the most complex area of reactions, the mind. Thus, the touch of many undead causes memory loss and brain damage.

Actually, undead have larger amounts of negative energy in them than living beings do of positive. This is for two reasons. First, most undead are of the "perpetual reaction" style of reactions - that is, they can continue on practically for ever. Actually, many of the undead that drain levels actually have an "increasing reaction": their elemental reactions actually produce more negative energy over time, making many undead more powerful as they grow older. Second, since negative energy is more difficult to find normally than positive energy, the magic that animates many undead includes giving them a direct link with the negative energy plane. Thus, level draining undead have more negative energy in them than living creatures have positive energy, leading to level draining.

-- The Sage of Everything

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Copyright 1999 by Kelly Pedersen and Leroy Van Camp III

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