Science Fantasy–Not-so-magical crystals part 2

To continue with my series on “not-so-magical crystals,” today’s post is is about the real scientific concepts that inspired Renatus’ magic system. You can read the first post in this series, on the topic of crystal data storage, here.

For those of you who are reading this but haven’t read the series, I’ll start with some brief background information. In Renatus, the basic premise for the magic system is that crystals interact with energy around them–whether it be light energy, energy of movement, heat energy, or the energy of the human spirit–and then transforms that energy to produce create some new effect depending on the crystal’s type. A crystal’s type is categorized by two factors: shape and color.

Below is a guide to the crystal naming convention used :
(Note: crystals are named first by color, then by type.)

Color Shape
Fire: Red/Yellow/Orange Fire: Pointed/Jagged
Water: Blue/Purple Water: Smooth/rounded
Earth: Brown/Green/Black Earth: Smooth/flat
Metal: Metallic Metal: Geometric/90 deg angles
Air: White/Grey/Pastels Air: Fluffy/Cotton-like appearance
Spirit: Clear/Transparent Spirit: Spirit crystals are determined solely by color

So a crystal that looks like this:

Celestite, close-up
Celestite (SrSO4), close-up

would be considered a water-fire crystal because of its blueish color and pointed/jagged shape.

I won’t go into too much more detail here because it starts treading into spoiler-y territory, but the powers of a crystal are both determined by and limited by its specific type. A simplistic example would be that a fire-fire crystal would be useful for (you guessed it) starting a fire, but a water-water crystal wouldn’t.

The above concepts are entirely figments of my imagination, but the basic idea for the system sprang from a real scientific field: spectroscopy. Spectroscopy is the study of how materials interact with various forms of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is a form of energy that is emitted as a result of various electromagnetic processes. That definition makes EMR sound more complicated than it really is: common types of EMR that everyone is familiar with are lasers, sunlight, and even light emitted from light bulbs.

When EMR passes through a material, the atoms, chemical bonds, and/or interfaces that compose the material interact with it and change it in various ways. A classic example you can see with your own eyes is white light being separated into individual wavelengths as it passes through a prism.


Exactly how the energy is changed depends on the specific chemical composition of the material and the type of EMR source being used. Since every material is unique, this phenomenon can be used to characterize materials based on how a known EMR source is altered as it interacts with the material being tested.

There are too many spectroscopy techniques to list here, however if you’d like to learn more about the subject, this list on Wikipedia isn’t a bad place to start.

In the end, it really is true that crystals can interact with energy around them, but the only way you’re going to be able to use that phenomenon to save the world is if you’re a researcher using spectroscopy techniques to characterize new molecules for medicines, discover new materials, etc. But you can always read about Nerissa using them to save the world whenever you want! ^_-





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