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Basic Information

Perceptonium (or Perceptronium) is a proposed hypothetical 5th state of matter, or element in certain scientific thought experiments and recently published papers. The idea is that it's useful to, for the sake of the argument, to be able to talk about perception and self-awareness in concrete terms that allow us to build mathematical models and simulations of reality. I don't think anyone is literally saying that there's some fluid (or hypothetical form of matter) that embodies and grants consciousness, but if there was it'd be easier to conduct thought experiments about consciousness. So if we kind of pretend there is, we can have useful conversations from that.

It's not an utterly crazy idea, either, given that perception and self-awareness are clearly special in some way, as suggested by Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Schroedinger's Cat, and other paradoxes of Quantum Theory. Observation collapses wave-forms and forces reality into specific randomly-determined paths. Maybe the spark of life or sentience is some chemically special thing that happens in certain brains and could one day be identified, reproduced, and manipulated. Maybe it's the soul.

And that's a cool enough idea for use in gaming, at the very least.

News: Physicists Are Saying Consciousness Is A State Of Matter


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A great new stand-in for applied phlebotinum, unobtainium, green rocks, etc.
    • May be similar or related to computronium. Or it may be entirely more spiritual and as different as can be from that hypothetical substance.
  • If it's a specific chemical or element, it may be that it occurs in tiny portions in the human brain or heart.
    • Possibly in larger quantities in the organs of an artist or true believer. A secondary dose might cause inspiration. An overdose might cause insanity or a loss of self.
    • If it can be removed or filtered out, you could turn someone into a soul-less drone.
    • Injected into an animal or computer it may cause them to develop autonomous sentience.
  • If Perceptonium is a literal 5th State of Matter, it may be created only by exciting certain atoms within a brain to pass from solid to liquid to gaseous to plasma to perceptonium state.
    • This sounds painful, but if it happens in a tiny enough scale, just a few atoms per brain, it might still be feasible to kickstart consciousness in a lower lifeform.
    • And it has freaky implications of what happens if this transformational reaction runs out of control. Will brains blow up like in Scanners? Can the reaction spread via telepathy and create a hivemind or groupthink? One minute your species is barely surviving beyond subsistence level, and the next you're a billion Bodhisattvas as the Perceptonium of your collective system crosses the hundredth monkey threshold.
    • Inspiration is sometimes described as lightning in a bottle - and this could mean that's more literal than anyone imagined.
  • The universe itself may be full of perceptonium. God may be the collective subconscious of all of creation.
  • If the process to harvest, refine or create perceptonium is known only to a single solar system or galactic empire they may have a huge advantage over other nations. Endless creativity and innovation. Limitless reinforcements.
    • Or limitless chaos. They may have the ability to create endless awareness, but not to deal with the rebellion that comes with it.
    • This could be an interesting spin on the precursor concept in science fiction. The ancients seeded awareness throughout the cosmos, and were undone by the side effects of these actions.
      • Azathoth, Slaanesh, or some other elder god may be the madness left at the center of the galaxy after some noble ancient race attempted to wake the universe, and instead unleashed a maelstrom of self-destructive thought upon themselves.
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