Math Superpowers: Vector Manipulation

John Moeses Bauan, Unsplash

Welcome to Math Superpowers, a series of blog posts that will focus on different abilities related to math or physics. None of these are my own and many of these have been utilized before by different creators. However, these are usually not as well-known or common when compared to abilities like super strength, super speed, invisibility, being impervious to an element, and so on. In our first installment, I will be discussing the many wonders known as vector manipulation.

A vector is an element of vector space, which is a collection of objects. There are many different vector spaces, but there are two main types: position (or location) and momentum (or velocity). All forms of matter can either be or have vectors and by manipulating them accordingly, the individual can create a barrier that is impenetrable from all vectors that may cross its path. This can be accomplished by the individual reversing the direction of kinetic vectors or displacing and sending them to a different region in space.

Think of it as a breakdown like this: position is distance (or coordinate). Direction is in relation to an orientation. Momentum is speed and the direction of motion, which is the trajectory. By manipulating the momentum, the end result is a change in motion and by controlling the position, a vector can have an altered location. Even if the vector equates to zero, it would still count as equating to one because it also has a direction.

Vector manipulation can be applied in a variety of ways. The simplest skills include acceleration (increasing the magnitude and direction of force vectors), deflection (inverting or reversing the direction of momentum vectors), and motion reversal (reserving vectors in movement). Going up a level, it is possible to achieve flight (decreasing gravitational vectors or using wind vectors), manipulate velocity (altering the speed and direction of kinetic vectors), and manipulate sound (manipulating the magnitude of molecular vibrations).

Mastery of vector manipulation can also be applied to manipulating air (through air molecules), light (to make the individual invisible), gravity (using weight vectors), and even regeneration by manipulating vectors in the body to close wounds and continue blood flow. 

Limitations of this ability include having a limited range, being able to only manipulate certain vectors, and being able to understand vectors to the point that calculations can be made in a blink of an eye. Often, manipulation isn’t an instinctual process, but a conscious one and if you’re in the middle of a sticky situation, being able to calculate vectors accordingly must be done in a swift manner.

The most notable fictional character with this ability is Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index, a light novel written by Kamachi Kazuma and illustrated by Haimura Kiyotaka. Accelerator is known for his superior intellect and ability to reflect vectors instinctually, thus allowing him to be a super powered antagonist to the main story. He also has his own spin-off novel series called A Certain Scientific Accelerator.

Vector manipulation is definitely a behemoth of a superpower and applied effectively, it can grant the individual invincibility. However, being intelligent enough to master it is a challenge in and of itself, so why not refresh yourself on vectors?

Look forward to the next installment of Math Superpowers, where you’ll be sure to be the most unique person in the crowd with your outrageous knowledge of superpowers!

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