beating the hell out of criminals that they just happen to run into while rooftopping. There are a
host of reasons why comic book style heroes aren't realistic.
So, with that, if one found one's self suddenly in possession of super powers, what could one do
with them? How would they a) make daily life easier, and b) how could one use them to Get Rich
Quick? How would being super change your employment prospects?
Each of these short articles will consider a specific super power.
Today's power: Telekinesis, because I had more requests for this than any other power.
Telekinesis is the power of moving things with your mind. In the small scale, this is a great power for the lazy. I myself have been known to lie in bed and cry "Pants! To me!". This has yet to prove more effective than getting up and picking up my pants. I will keep trying.
We've got a number of variables in telekinetics to consider. After the last article, I'm going to try to address a few more of the "science" issues, too. For the sake of limiting the argument, I'm going to assume one can't lift one's self - at that point, we're really debating flying, not telekinesis.
First off, the biggest issues with TK (as the hip kids call it) is strength - how much weight can one move? A few pounds? As much as a strong person? Lifting tanks?
Secondly, we have what I am going to call object tracking. Basically, this is how many objects one can manipulate simultaneously. Juggling is impressive because we've only got two hands. With high object tracking, one just manipulates each ball individually. This is the difference between throwing a knife with your mind and throwing the entire silverwear drawer.
Next we have range. How far away can the user move things? A few feet? Line of sight? This also raises the issue of feedback - can the telekinetic "feel" what they are manipulating?
We should also consider duration - how long can one hold something with TK? How long can one work with it before becoming too tired? Is that related directly to the mass of what you're moving?
Finally, we have granularity. How fine is the control? What is the smallest thing the power wielder can manipulate? Can they write thier name with a pen? Use chopsticks? Move individual blood vessels? Rearrange atoms in a molecule? The last isn't something one sees often - IIRC, Phoenix could do it, and one or two others.
Now, on to the science issues. The first issue I see with TK is Newton's third law; to every action, an equal and opposite reaction. If a strong TK user lifts a bus, Newton's law says the weight of the bus then presses down on the TK user. That much weight is going to crush the TK user's legs. Even if that weight somehow gets distributed through to the users feet, there's still a decent chance the user gets pushed into the ground by the weight of the bus. If TK is not a force that acts on the user, then a TK user in a fight pushing against an attack wouldn't get pushed back by it either.
There's also the issue that we'll have to address for pretty much every power - where does the energy for all of this come from? I always like the pseudo-science of having a hyper-efficient metabolism, to the point of just doing e=mc2 in your belly if need be. Or somehow pulling in energy from another universe. We're talking about comic book powers here, so a high degree of hand waving is acceptable.
So, how does one make money as a telekinetic? With a high degree of strength and a decent range, you can replace a crane on a construction site. I couldn't find quotes online for how much it costs to operate a big lifting crane on a highrise, or unloading an ocean shipping container vessel but if you can charge as much as one of those without having to pay to buy and maintain the gear, you're probably not too badly off, assuming that you can maintain a solid 8-10 hours of lifting things.
If your range is *really* good, you could lift planes into the air, taking them quickly to cruising altitude, and bringing them into land again, though object tracking becomes an issue for a major airport unless you have many telekinetics. You could also, with enough power, get a job flinging things into orbit for NASA.
If you have very fine control, a career in electronics, watch-making or medicine could be yours. Being able to make very tiny movements without risk of hand tremors would be pretty useful there. Of course, if you can moves atoms, you're Dr. Manhattan, and the whole concept of money becomes rather moot.
If you have high object tracking, you can do things a lot faster - assembling a car in minutes because you can move all the pieces together at once, etc.
If the process isn't that taxing, power generation isn't a bad way to go - just spin a turbine as fast as you can for as long as you can. Of course, from the perspective of the power utility, it's better if you can do so more or less continually. Only generating power for 8 hours a day is less useful (but then again, people *do* use solar, and at this time of year, 8 hours is about all you get)
Again, we also have more illegal careers. Thief is again a possibility, but we need to again discount it as insufficiently profitable for the risk and effort invovled. The telekinetic is better off cheating at gambling, very carefully. If you can work at a good range, rigging the lottery is a good way to do this, but you can only get away with it twice before people get suspicious, and you get shut down whether or not they can figure out how you're doing it. A cheating gambler has to be careful not to win too often.
The military applications are numerous - someone who can catch and throw bullets and missles, lob tanks and pull down enemy fortifications is a big plus on the battlefield. The telekinetic is still flesh, though, and a big threat like that makes you a big target for assassins and really heavy weaponry. Eventually, you let your guard down and you're done. The army isn't known for paying fantastically well, to the soldiers at least.