Reverse Engineering: The super scientific dangers of capturing Pokemon with your phone

    
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I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but there is a chance that capturing Pokemon could be the end of civilization as we know it. It could likely bring the apocalypse and wipe out every living creature on the planet. If my calculations are correct — and they tend to be — and if you are still playing Pokemon Go, then you are walking with a literal bomb in your pocket.

Niantic recently gave us some more specific information about its new Harry Potter mobile game, but that got me overthinking about Niantic’s flagship game POGO. How do these monsters end up inside your phone and in your pocket in the first place? Clearly, we are looking at some very dangerous physics here, no matter how you slice it. In fact, it could very well be explosive on a global scale.

Law of conservation

To understand the basics of either of these hypotheses, you first have to understand the law of conservation of mass. The dictionary defines the law of conservation of mass this way: “The total mass of any isolated material system is neither increased nor diminished by reactions between the parts.” To simplify this in terms relevant to what I’m talking about here: No matter how we change the Pokemon in question, there will always be the same amount of mass.

According to the Pokedex, Mr. Mime has a mass of 54.5 kilograms and has a height of 1.3 meters. If we expanded Mr. Mime to 2 or 20 meters, it will still have a mass of 54.5 kg. The same applies to compression. If we press Mr. Mime to 1 m or 1 mm, it will still have a total mass of 54.5 kg. Chemical changes work the same way, but changing the chemical make-up of matter makes things a bit more difficult to measure. But if we set Mr. Mime on fire — as many of us want to do — then the mass of all the matter (solids, gases, and liquids) present after fire burns out will still have the total mass of 54.5 kg.

Creating black holes?

At first, I thought that perhaps there would be an issue with making black holes when you compress a Pokemon small enough to fit in your pocket or in your phone. Oddly enough, that would not be small enough to cross what’s called the Schwarzschild radius. When the density of an object is compressed to a point that an event horizon is created — where the density of an object is so great that it starts to collapse in on itself — then becomes a black hole.

The Schwarzschild radius, based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, calculates the size an object has to be to start collapsing in on itself. G in this equation is equal to the gravitational constant, c is the speed of light, and M is the mass of the object. If you would like to do the calculations for yourself, the gravitational constant is equal to 6.674×10-11 N⋅m²/kg², and the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s. The average human is about 70kg. That means that the incredibly small radius of a black hole with the mass of a human is 1.04×10-25 m. That number looks like this when written out:

0.000000000000000000000000104

For those who need a visual — too bad. Even the best electron microscopes can’t see something that small. You don’t get anything above a millimeter until you have something with the mass of Earth. That means that even our biggest Pokemon can be compressed to fit in our phones without causing a black hole, but that does mean there is another problem.

Under pressure

If not a black hole, then what does happen to matter when compressed? Remember, we aren’t just pressing these Pokemon tight enough to fit into a Pokeball, but that Pokeball then has to fit on your phone. So we are talking about compressing some creatures over a couple hundred kilo into a microscopic place.

We know that there are four stages of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. And there are two ways for matter to flip between these states, the first being temperature. We know as you heat up an element, it will cycle through the four stages, but there is another common way to get matter to cycle through the stages: pressure.

At this point, I’m not going to question how it happens or what force a Pokeball would use to actually compress a Pokemon, so let’s just accept that it does. The issue we start to run into rather quickly is heat and eventually electron degeneration. So the electric charge is a factor, and so is the ionization of the Pokemon when it is reformed, which means that the Pokemon that you start with will not be the Pokemon you end up with. And I don’t mean because of “evolution.” (Side note: “Evolution” is a bad term for what happens to a Pokemon, but I will use it here because that’s what it’s called in the game.) It’s literally changed its atomic structure.

E=mc²

The most common theory about how Pokemon fitting into Pokeballs and then inside your phone has to be the idea that a Pokeball transforms matter to energy then back again. This is literally the worst theory in existence. It’s not because it’s not possible. Matter can definitely be turned into energy. In fact, people do it every day, but it’s usually in a very controlled environment. But because the universe operates on entropy, energy is not turned back into matter.

You all know the calculation for turning matter into energy: It’s E=mc², but not everyone knows what that all means. Well, m is matter. And c is the universal constant – in other words, the speed of light. And E is the energy output, usually measured in joules. If we convert Mr. Mime into energy — remember he has 54.5 kg of matter — then we get 4,898,216 terajoules of energy output. I’m willing to bet that a Pokeball and definitely your phone cannot contain that amount of energy. For perspective, Fat Man dropped on Nagasaki contained only 84 TJ. It’s not quite an extinction event like the asteroid and/or volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs, but it will level a small country.

My advice: Stop catching Pokemon before you kill everyone!

I’m kidding… you gotta catch ’em all. What do you think will happen? All science requires testing and retesting. What is your hypothesis? What do you think happens when trainers catch Pokemon? And I didn’t even mention how heavy your phone would be if it had all those Pokemon pressed inside it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Have you ever wondered how the worlds of your favorite MMOs would work in the real world? Welcome to Reverse Engineering, in which MOP’s Larry Everett takes apart the tropes, equipment, and worlds from all kinds of massive online games, from dragons to jetpacks. Let him know what you’d like to see reverse engineered next!

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cursedseishi

So…! I had about 2 hours worth of work adding up the weight of all Pokemon from Red/Blue up to Sun/Moon as taken from here:
https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/List_of_Pok%C3%A9mon_by_weight

And… my cat, sensing the insanity of this I’m assuming, smacked my phone out of my hand from her place in my lap and… gone. Aaaall gone.

I think, after having to go through and fix my numbers, I was roughly around… 10,000kgs? And while knowing the collective weight of Pokemon is fun… Ultimately? I decided it doesn’t matter! And here’s why…

I don’t believe the Pokemon, once captured through your phone, is kept on your phone. That would be silly. A Primal Groudon, on his own, is just about 1,000kgs. The energy alone from him would be about 19 times greater than Mr. Mime… and very likely enough to give any continent a… very bad day. Not even one of those big brick cellphones from the 80s would be sufficient.

I believe the phone, upon capture, transmits the ‘data’ of the Pokemon to a central point… and from there, we are able to access it. But there’s the rub. If my Pokemon Go Pokemon are being stored on a server somewhere… Then so is everyone elses. Just from the number I was at previously, that would mean the energy ALONE from a single person with that much collective weight would be…
898,755,229.358 Terajoules.

Yeah… And this is incomplete here too. Of course, Pokemon Go doesn’t have the full roster in… yet. But this is where things get bad. That number? Again, 1 person… I think, once the full roster is implemented, we all should stop playing this game…

To ‘destroy’ a planet, one needs to overcome the planet’s gravitational binding energy. The Earth, for instance? It’s estimated that our planet has a Gravitational binding energy of roughly… two hundred million trillion trillion.
And the energy necessary to destroy a planet?
2.25 X 10^32 Joules. Or… In numerical sense.
225,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules.
or
2.25 X 10^20 Terajoules.

Now… Remember the number above for one person? About 900,000,000 Terajoules (I’m a filthy rounder, yes so sue me). There is definitely more than one person playing Pokemon GO per area. There’s no statistics for the full number I can find off the bat, but we’ll make this simple. The game saw 20 Million daily users, so using that, if all of them caught 1 each of every single Pokemon, and off my rather rough estimate…
That means they’d have 1.8 X 10^16 Terajoules of energy stored in servers somewhere…

And that doesn’t even include the fact you need to capture Pokemon in Pokemon GO to evolve them, since you have to ‘convert’ them into candy you use to get them to evolve. So, technically… that energy has to go somewhere.

For instance, 1 Bulbasaur is worth 1 candy. It takes 125 candies to evolve Bulbasaur up to Venusaur. To get that much, you’d be catching around 860kgs of ‘matter’ to trade in for the number. And this number is going to add up rather insanely…

If we are extremely lucky? Pokemon GO servers have enough energy somehow situated within them in some form or another, to devastate the world. But if everyone decided they wanted to be a Pokemon master? Well, there ain’t a solar system safe enough for us…

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Schlag Sweetleaf

I like your use of animations/gifs in the article Larry.Gives it a certain visual dynamism(zazz) that appeals to the eyes. 👍

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Dobablo

Pokemon will kill us, but not for the reason you think?
– What is the biggest problem with the world today?
Micro-plastics polluting the oceans and getting into the food chain.
– What are micro-plastics?
Micro-plastics are plastics that were big and are now “micro”.
– Where did the micro-plastics come from?
Micro-plastics are shape-changing hydrocarbons invented during the 1930s, which quickly replaced traditional textile bag of holding. The patent was picked up by a card trading company in Japan who quickly hushed it up and used it as a method of capture and storage for wild mons. Micro-plastics are the results of “Pokeballs(TM)” getting washed out to sea where their micro-properties are amplify and they shrink to microscopic size.
– What risk are micro-plastic Pokeballs?
Anyone that has ingested these tiny pokeballs will be at risk of catastrophic explosion should they pass in the vicinity of a mobile device while it is transmitting an signal to activate pokeballs.

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styopa

“there is a chance that capturing Pokemon could be the end of civilization as we know it”

At this point, I’m not sure that would be a totally bad thing.