…the origin of Havok’s powers?

Havok's powers

Personally the whole conceit of Havok’s mutant ability being fuelled through his absorption of cosmic rays has never quite clicked for me. There is a major problem with this principle.

As I understand it, primary cosmic particles hit Earth’s atmosphere where they collide with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen, breaking up to create showers of secondary particles.

These then enter the lower atmosphere, colliding with even more atoms to create even weaker secondary particles.

By the time these cascades of particles reach the ground, they are basically powerless.

Only the most powerful cosmic primaries cause bigger problems, and of these only a very small percentage reach the surface of our planet.

Among the cosmic particles that are able to reach Earth – in fact they pass right through it – are neutrinos, neutrally charged particles with an extremely low mass. They are produced during radioactive decay by stars, including, of course, our own sun.

Since neutrinos are unaffected by the same electromagnetic processes that govern charged particles, they pass through the earth, and us, without interacting at all so Havok would it seems be unable to make use of these to fuel his power either.

The only other cosmic particles that are known to penetrate the earth to any depth are the cygnets from Cygnus X-3, a neutron star located 30,000 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus, the celestial swan. Like neutrinos, these *cygnets* are neutrally charged, yet unlike neutrinos, they do interact with matter, and that includes us humans.

So it would seem the cosmic rays that Havok absorbs to fuel his power would be neutrons with these same qualities.

The only problem is, Cygnus is the only current confirmed source in the Milky Way Galaxy that produces periodic bursts of high energy gamma rays to produce these neutrons.

Otherwise, is Havok’s power perhaps fuelled by similarly attributed neutrons from a certain *neutron galaxy* housed within a certain *crystal*?

Does this finally explain the interest D’Ken and Mr. Sinister had in the Summers line – their ability to absorb and channel the power contained within a *neutron galaxy*?

Maybe this explains why Cyclops’ power was able to shatter the matrix!

The remarkable Jason Powell has posited that it wasn’t the strength of Cyclops’s eye-beams but the fact that he also absorbs energy from the crystal, making it weaker, perhaps explaining how the X-Men passed inside the crystal despite it being super-dense.

Perhaps Cyclops was draining the crystal’s strength, making it brittle…? Has Jean all along been “Sharra” to his “K’ythri”? This might perhaps shed further light on that beautiful little back-up in Classic X-Men #43, Flights of Angels, where Death explains to Jean: “D’you think it was an accident that, as a child, your thoughts touched Scott Summers’? Or that he was orphaned by the Shi’ar Emperor?  That fleeting contact eventually drew Scott to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where he grew into Cyclops, leader of the X-Men.  He fell in love with you, and you with him…”

Is this why Lilandra REALLY sought Charles Xavier out, to prevent the “end of all that is”?  Claremont after all did have Lilandra show her true colours during X-Men: The End, revealing that the Shi’ar technology given to the X-Men’s Mansion by her as a gift, was used, like a “trojan horse” as part of her plan to destroy the X-Men once and for all!

Postscript: What’s further interesting is that the star, Cygnus, was worshipped by the Egyptians as the falcon-headed god, Seker.  I wonder if this could be used to not only explain a certain race of avian-descended humanoids’ interest in the Crystal, but one living pharaoh’s interest in Alex Summers as well!?

31 Responses

  1. Well, that is kinda beautiful! Although without the Neutron Galaxy I would’ve been very tempted to ask “well why couldn’t Alex be absorbing neutrinos and converting them to energy? If we assumed that this is an ability that only Alex possesses, not technologically duplicatable by Reed Richards or Dr. Doom, then it gives some much-needed weight to the extreme nature of his powers as they were first presented…inexhaustible energy that can’t be shut off, that can be turned to all sorts of uses. So…

    Maybe the magic trick here is that Alex’s mutant power interacts with ordinary neutrinos and turns them into cygnets? Once again, a terribly impressive power and process, apparently beyond the reach of “ordinary” Marvel Universe science…so maybe the Neutron Galaxy could be thought of as the M’Krann Crystal’s power plant, the one artificial cygnet-maker that poses the same threat as Alex does, only greater because Alex is a conscious being who is motivated by emotion — his feeling for Lorna helping him temporarily attain mastery of his powers in some old Hulk issue whose number I’ve forgotten, and then of course there is how the Phoenix manages to shut doewn the Crystal through some kind of somewhat-frilly “power-of-love” thing, Kabbalistic antennae or something, wasn’t it? The X-Men as a corporate entity crowned by the Phoenix…?

    I think you’re on to something. Scott’s “non-heat, just force” power could be explained as the conversion of non-interactive particles to interactive ones in the parth of his eyebeams, thus explaining why he never suffers a neck-snapping recoil (not that we really needed an explanation for that, but it’s nice to have one), whereas Alex’s cygnet-conversion would appear to take place within his own body…Scott essentially transforms photons into cygnets by a roundabout process, in that he absorbs electromagnetic energy and then uses it to produce a wave of energy from his eyes that triggers the conversion…whereas Alex appears not to need an external power-supply like that at all. Hmm, well Scott’s power can be blocked by a certain type of crystal, too, can’t it? And the Living Pharoah encloses Alex in crystal to block him off from the…

    …Cosmic rays, oh damn, the bloody Living Pharoah. Okay, not quite there yet: we already know Alex and Scott’s powers don’t work on each other, so it seems safe to say that their systems can absorb cygnets too, maybe even turn them back into ordinary neutrinos…if they can, then perhaps there’s your rationale for Scott’s eyebeams being effective against the M’Kraan Crystal, if cygnets supplied by the Neutron Galaxy are what powers it.

    Ha, it kind of fits! Now the only problem is the Pharoah, who can’t become the Monlith while Alex is still out there absorbing stuff. So maybe he really is becoming the Monolith, except that Alex is a much better absorber of cygnets than Scott? And they all just get harmlessly sucked away. And maybe being this kind of dual-use transformer is how Alex can even learn to control his powers at all: if he can reabsorb and reconvert the cygnets he himself is putting out (he needs some Tantric texts, or something! he should call up Sting!) then he can use his power to control his power…something neither the Pharoah nor Scott can do.

    Man, you could really chase that one pretty far, couldn’t you? Great theorizing, Nate!

  2. @ Plok: Fantastic to have you back on board:)

    I too could’ve just explained Alex’s ability one of absorbing neutrinos and converting them to energy but the existence of the Neutron Galaxy was just too beautiful a link to overlook.

    And yep, my connecting them back to his original presentation was my utter intention:) I absolutely loved those Thomas & Adams issues, the exoticness of the Pharaoh’s cult, etc.

    Would Alex’s accumulation of them though have the potential of creating a Neutron Galaxy on Earth?

    I do love the idea of his power being beyond the reach of even Marvel science, giving him a great reason for being a being unique in the Marvel Universe. And the Neutron Galaxy as the M’Kraan Crystal’s power plant is pure genius!

    Though if Alex possesses power equivalent to the Crystal, why have we not seen the Council D’Ken had on side in pursuit of him, or Mr. Sinister more interested in HIM than Scotty?!

    I’d take that reveal from the old Hulk issue further, tying Lorna’s relationship to him as one intended to not only help him control his powers but to prepare him for some unique cosmic destiny!

    This could also finally be used to explain why Eric the Red sought out Lorna and recruited her to his side first, titling her with the pseudonym Polaris, and why Mr. Sinister later referred to her as his “Pole Star”.

    Given Mr. Sinister’s interest in all things “Summers” did he bind Lorna with Malice so the “negative emotions” that strengthened her would draw the neutrinos out of Alex and thereby provide him with power equivalent to the energy contained within the M’Kraan Crystal?

    Did Mr. Sinister therefore have similar motives to D’Ken and pursued the Summers brothers because he knew they uniquely possessed the genetic traits of being conduits able to safely channel this energy?

    Yes, Scott’s conversion exactly explains why he doesn’t snap his neck when emitting his “particle beam”:) Love the comparison of Scott absorbing and then able to reproduce it as a wave whereas Alex doesn’t require the external power-supply.

    The Living Pharaoh encasing him in a crystal to block this ability could provide the key to this unexplained forty year plot. I love it!!!

    There’s still the need to explain how the energy alternatively converts the Pharaoh into the Monolith and beyond that to a Living Planet. What is his system doing to change the conversion in such a dramatic fashion?

    I just love the idea of Alex in some tantric sex ritual with Lorna, which Sinister conducts in true Frank N. Furter fashion (finally explaining why he wears that silly costume;) Sorry, couldn’t resist that last one.

  3. Speciate the power! Scott transforms neutrinos into cygnets outside his body, basically powered by light…he does not absorb neutrinos but can re-absorb the cygnets he himself produces (otherwise he woulda already blown off his foot, or something), and what Alex puts out is enough like that for him to absorb it the same way.

    Meanwhile Alex actually absorbs neutrinos, and not light…and puts out cygnets but he actually absorbs cygnets preferentially, at some massive rate. It doesn’t really matter because there is such a flood of neutrinos all around him, the only reason he hasn’t blown up is because he’s always reabsorbing a big fraction of the cygnets he’s producing…there’s just a remainder, that’s all.

    And he’s also draining off the cygnets from the Pharoah, who is likewise constantly absorbing neutrinos but at an even bigger rate than Alex…except Alex also absorbs cygnets, which the Monolith doesn’t do at all, so his power just keeps ramping up and up, and his body along with it. Scott’s body is transparent to neutrinos, absorbs cygnets…Alex’s absorbs both cygnets and neutrinos…the Pharoah’s body only absorbs neutrinos. So…yeah, Cyclops’ power seems to be safer all around, and more useful as a “technology” too. Havok’s power interferes with itself, too many feedback loops, can’t shut it off…you couldn’t harness it. Cyclops’ bit works nice and clean. Oh, geeking out can be fun.

    By the way, Nate, your Sharras and K’thyries seem to be proliferating…

  4. @ plok: How is Scott transforming neutrinos outside his body? What light is powering this conversion? Where is it coming from – within Scott? How?

    I think you’ve nailed it re: Alex’s absorption. Now we need to contemplate whether the power he emits is enough like expulsion of cygnets to be a final say on the matter.

    So with Pharoah you’re saying he likewise absorbs neutrinos and converts them into cygnets? And, if he absorbs them at a bigger rate this is why he begins transforming into the Monolith? Yet how, if he still converts them like Alex?

    If Alex also absorbs cygnets, wouldn’t he keep absorbing those his body converts, and therefore not be able to expel them at the rate he absorbs? Wouldn’t this put him in a worse predicament than the Monolith?

    And yep, Cyclops’ power does seem to be safer all around, and it eased the barrier around the Crystal so Phoenix could perform surgery on it which is a pretty significant ability to have.

    Re: Havok’s power acting the way you describe, yes very true that there’s too many feedback loops. So is this why he hasn’t gone off in a major way yet, because Lorna’s power tends to keep the negative consequences at bay?

    Geeking out can definitely be fun:)

    Mayhaps you’re right that Lorna and Alex are another incarnation of the Sharra/ K’ythri paradigm. Can we come up with any others?

    You know, timelost lovers that keep incarnating together include Kata and Shiera Hol.

  5. Yes, but keep it all Marvel, and finally let Claremont have his day as an Englehartian universe-shaper!

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear about the speciation. In my head it’s a three-way balance: the Pharoah absorbs neutrinos but not cygnets, Scott absorbs cygnets but not neutrinos, Alex absorbs neutrinos and cygnets.

    But there has to be a bit more to it than that, to really make it work.

    The Pharoah absorbs neutrinos massively, converting them into the cygnets which then are used by his weird physiology to drive his transformation into the Monolith: in comic-book terms, he converts neutrinos into energy and directs that energy inwards to his own superhuman structure, to his own superhumanity. Like the Hulk, I suppose? The cygnets he creates from neutrinos are not dangerous, except to the extent that he is dangerous because of how they empower him with some “intermediate” energy that comes from his body, that he can then use for a variety of effects. People don’t get cancer from hanging out with the Hulk, you know? So…actually you could technologize the Pharoah’s power okay, except that the amount of energy it produces is so big that the only way to contain it is to scale up the container into WORSHIP MEEE! godhood, and you couldn’t build a machine large enough to do it. Nevertheless, it isn’t the cygnets that would blow up your reactor, it’d be the”intermediate energy” that was released?

    Whereas Alex, though he absorbs neutrinos too, doesn’t absorb them quite as massively as the Pharoah…however he does absorb cygnets massively, so massively that the Pharoah’s neutrino-absorption, even when Alex is on the other side of the planet, only renders him enough power to make the odd force-blast. The cygnets produced by the Pharoah don’t have a chance to change his physiology: before they can mutate him, Alex’s antenna-like cells have already sucked them away, and converted them harmlessly back into neutrinos. Alex mostly turns cygnets into neutrinos, whether they’re cygnets he produces or cygnets from elsewhere…but the thing is, space is supersaturated with neutrino flux, and cygnets are rare. The Pharoah’s own body is only so big, it only has so many neutrinos in its cross-section. When he’s the Monolith there are suddenly many more cygnets out there, but of course he can’t be the Monolith while Alex’s body is absorbing cygnets anyway. So Alex, because his mutant power switches neutrinos for cygnets both ways, and there’s always more neutrinos, always has a surplus of cygnets to emit, not as some intermediate energy but as themselves. Hmm, and the farther away they get from him, the more they probably switch back?

    And then there’s Scott, who absorbs light, and emits “intermediate energy” from his eyes that turns neutrinos in its path into cygnets. Who knows what shape his powers may have taken if not for the brain damage? (A beautiful touch of Claremont’s) I guess he absorbs light massively, to judge from the energy he’s been shown to dispense…but he also absorbs cygnets, which is why Alex’s blasts can’t hurt him.

    So, okay, how about this, let me make it more symmetrical! Alex absorbs all the cygnets that the Pharoah is transmuting…but the Pharoah also absorbs light just like Scott does, and that’s how he generates his hand-blasts. Then it would break down like:

    SCOTT: absorbs light 2, absorbs cygnets 1, absorbs neutrinos 0

    PHAROAH: absorbs neutrinos 2, absorbs light 1, absorbs cygnets 0

    ALEX: absorbs cygnets 2, absorbs neutrinos 1, absorbs light 0

    Oh, you know I have another…

  6. Scott emits “intermediate energy” (“Roy’s “mutant energy”?) that transforms neutrinos to cygnets a lot like that old “new repulsor” of Iron Man’s that gained strength, I think electrostatically, as it travelled to its target? Scott’s eyebeams might have a “sweet spot”…hmm, didn’t Stan say something like that, way back when…? Anyway the resulting cygnets provide the “kicks like a mule” business, making the neutrinos’ kinetic energy (neutrinos have mass, remember, they’re just “weakly interacting”) felt. So the cygnets are never directed at him…but if they were, they’d be re-transmuted into neutrinos, which just pass through him like light through a pane of glass.

    The same “intermediate energy” is what cygnets in the Monolith’s body become, their kinetic energy (they are chargeless, of course) not shredding him from the inside but instead being changed into something his body uses to mutate itself.

    Meanwhile Alex’s body has not even heard the word about “intermediate energy”…what’s that? His body just flips neutrinos and cygnets around. or wait NO…!

    Alex can do more with his power than just “transfer kinetic energy”, right? So as Scott’s projection of “intermediate energy” made from light turns neutrinos into cygnets, both Alex and the Monolith make “intermediate energy” from cygnets

    Which, now that I think about it, means Scott’s power is still better, since it isn’t dependent on his body’s cross-section. Everywhere he looks, he can make cygnets. He can make them all over the place. If he were to turn his head fast enough, he could rival the Monolith’s power output, just make shitloads of cygnets everywhere.

    Oh, the wine has perhaps run away with me.

    When do we get to talk about the Silver Surfer, quartz crystals, and the Coalsack nebula?

  7. Whoa. This is like that scene in COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT where Colossus first gets the uplink to its Russian counterpart Guardian, and the two of them create a telecommunications protocol on the fly as their human programmers look on in amazement.

    I’m also envisioning the webcomic “Plok and Adler: Cosmic Engineers” if Jon Rosenberg can fit it into his schedule…

  8. @plok: Yes, definitely let Claremont loose to build the Marvel Universe as only he can, particularly his Galactus epic revealing The World on which the M’Kraan Crystal resides as his original homeworld (retconning Byrne’s Galactus-origin out of existence;)

    Wow! You’ve made your speciation that clear that you’ve hamstrung my verbosity levels.

    What’s interesting is if Pharaoh is overcharged he becomes the equivalent of a planetoid, whereas Alex becomes a freakin’ STAR. No doubt had Claremont been let loose on that ideation he’d have interwoven Crowleyana like you wouldn’t believe. Have you read Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 where the team battle Horde for the Crystal of Ultimate Vision? There are some interesting revelations about Havok therein that you could definitely tie in here.

    So the question I now have is can the real-world science of neutrinos cause the spark that grows a planet and cygnets the beginning evolution of a star?

    Plus LIGHT, NEUTRINOS and CYGNETS once again create that interesting Trinity we’ve previously discussed.

    Re: your having another, how did I know you were going to say…



    Scott’s power is of course more practical-based, but perhaps from a more galactic perspective it’s Alex.

    Silver Surfer, quartz crystals, Coalstack nebula… Do tell? Speaking of quartz crystals does this include ruby quartz and from there, Cyclops?

  9. @Richard: Thanks again:)

    I come in at 6ft5in so will leave it up to plok whether he wants to be Colossus or Guardian.

    As for Rosenberg, bring it on, I say!!!

  10. (Oh man, I really want to see the Colossus movies again…and I never read the books! Time for a trip to the library…damn you Richard…!)

    Ha, Nate, you’re willing to save everything in every story except Byrne’s Galactus! But can we throw out all the post-Gerber stuff about Starhawk, too? I think your fixes would still stand up perfectly well without all the next-gen Guardians stuff…

    Anyway, it seems like it has to be Light, Neutrinos, Cygnets, and “Intermediate Energy”, so I guess that’s a Quaternity instead of a Trinity…but then again even the Living Tribunal’s head has a fourth side, no?

    As to neutrinos and cygnets and stars and planets…hmm, well, my understanding is that what makes a cold cloud collapse into a star is that all the stuff on the deep inside of the cloud is not interacted with by cosmic radiation, so its movement slows down/it gets colder…there’s no radiation pressure inside the cloud, and so gravity begins to crunch it down…and it’s a long fall. So, not sure what we can do there…except…

    If there happened to be something outside a relatively small cloud, encompassing it or even (I suppose) just kinda near it, that transmuted strongly-interacting particles into neutrinos…then I guess the temperature inside a small cloud could drop enough to create the same “stellar crunch” that would ordinarily take the greater insulation of a much bigger cloud…instead of hydrogen atoms suffering collisions with various “ambient” particles, as neutrinos they’d just sail right on through…

    But whether you’d actually get a star out of it, I don’t know. And, hmm, it seems like it would be a LOT of neutrinos…

    I’ll think about it!

  11. @plok: Not willing to save everything in every story when I prep a Claremont fix. Anything after he left gets thrown out and I attempt to build my fixes only around the clues he dropped before he got a chance to resolve.

    Re: Starhawk, does that include your wanting to thrown out Valentino’s stuff, or do you mean the stuff after that my Gallagher revealing him as the son of Quasar and Her? If the latter go for it

    Touché re: Living Tribunal. Is the Marvel Universe’s structure therefore a mirror to the Living Tribunal’s manifestation?

    If all the stuff on the deep inside of the cold cloud is not interacted with by cosmic radiation, then and there’s no radiation pressure inside the cloud, how is it that Havok’s destiny is to become a STAR (as laid bare more than anywhere else in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11)?

    Then there’s the question of how, given our hypotheses, the Living Pharaoh’s absorption of neutrinos can result in him becoming a Monolith, then planet?

  12. Oh, I just feel way too connected to the story Gerber was telling with Starhawk, the Seventies parable of the evolutionary bottleneck…very attached to the idea of Starhawk as the last of the old species, first of the new. What I read of Valentino’s stuff turned me right off, and it didn’t take much! I felt like painting Starhawk in Nineties colours was a missed opportunity.

    Also, I liked the idea that Stakar is looking out to the ruined city on Arcturus right now! Or rather then: that he and Aleta meet up in the shadow of the Hawk-God at the same time Vance Astro blasts off for the Centaurus system.

    But enough about me. You didn’t have the chance to read Englehart’s Silver Surfer, if I recall right? Where the essential “implied negative” of the Tribunal, the necessary absence/deficit/lack of wholeness that makes him capable of performing his duties as cosmic judge, is the Stranger. That whole series was about the fractal permutations of Trinity-ism throughout the MU…so, yeah, absolutely! I don’t think anyone’s looking at it, but it’s definitely there to see, and Claremont’s stuff fits right in…

    Anyway, back to Alex. He’s to become a star? Okay, well the Monolith becomes a planet because he’s a runaway reaction — converts neutrinos, energy makes him bigger, his body has a bigger cross-section for converting neutrinos, he gets bigger still…on and on until presumably some point of equilibrium is reached. If it were only his skin that converted neutrinos then there would be such a point…as you square the surface area you cube the volume, right?

    (By the way, how good must Scott’s body be at absorbing light when he only ever has the lower part of his face exposed?)

    But Alex doesn’t get bigger, he just either sheds converted energy or reabsorbs it and switches it back, in my model. So, what would be necessary for him to get into such a position where the energy remainder he had to dump would scale up to something like stellar luminosity?

    (The flaw in all this is that the “intermediate energy” doesn’t seem to be light, correct? If it could be, we’d have a very nice symmetry…)

    (Actually it’s still not quite there yet, I’m uncomfortable with the idea that Alex absorbs cygnets far more easily than neutrinos, there’s something slightly screwy there…but oh well: comics)

    Hold on, I’m gonna see if I can chase this one down…

  13. Sorry, taking a while…

  14. Okay, so what has to happen for Alex to get him to “star” level? Has to have tons of energy to dump. Well, he kinda already does: converting cygnets to neutrinos just makes more neutrinos around him to convert to cygnets, and if we suppose (for the sake of argument) that every cygnet’s worth at least two neutrinos…

    Hold on. Maybe my model needs work.

    Suppose we think of this as like nuclear fusion and fission. Taking neutrinos and making them into cygnets, suppose that’s like fusion — concentrating “interactive mass” — and suppose making cygnets into neutrinos is like fission — breaking “interactive mass” down. Both reactions put out more energy than it takes to start them going, but both reactions have an equilibrium point: fusion and fission both stop as soon as they make Element 26. God, I needed this beer. Let’s leave the equilibrium point to one side for now, and think about the original energy that is “added in” to begin the reaction. If we follow Roy, this is clearly “mutant energy”…but, where does “mutant energy” come from? Clearly it comes from the body of the mutant: it’s a biophysical energy in the human body that’s surplus to ordinary human physical requirements. Are you thinking of Pym Particles and Erskine Cells yet, Nate? Anyway it doesn’t all come from just having a big appetite or something — Ben Grimm can eat a whole stack of pancakes on one fork, but it’s just flour and eggs anyway, it isn’t magic…this is a thing that Messner-Loebs made a good thing out of in his Flash, Wally West may eat ten or a hundred or a thousand times what an Olympic sprinter does, but it still doesn’t explain running across the country at the speed of sound…! So Ben is powered by the cosmic energy in his cells, and Cyclops is powered by light, and Iceman is…

    …Similarly powered by light?

    Actually I never did understand how Iceman sucks in the moisture he uses for his ice, you know? But then I never understood how Alex’s power can interfere with the Pharoah’s when one of them is in Cairo and the other in Westchester, either. If we took this to a ridiculous level we might say that Iceman’s power is of a kind with Storm’s — some kind of energy field emanates from his body, that has a special resonance with water molecules: can make them move around in space, and can simultaneously affect their “molecular motion”, i.e. their energy. It’s pretty impressive, if you think about it. Similarly, if you think about it, Storm’s power is both more and less impressive: essentially, she has the power to make clouds…but how is that not the power to move molecules around in a field, while simultaneously altering their temperature independent of that movement? More and more, X3 looks like it’s got hold of a good idea: classes of mutants like classes of storms, Ororo and Magneto are Tropical Storm Mutants and Jean is a Hurricane Mutant. It’s all about imparting motions to particles inside fields

    Wait, I don’t want this to get too big. So, next comment…

  15. Where does the energy come from? From the mutant physiology. But where does that energy come from? It must be from environmental sources. Scott gets powered up by light (and maybe to a lesser degree by electrons), and creates a field in his line-of-sight that turns neutrinos into cygnets: the resultant energy goes thataway, and pushes the cygnets with it, straight as an arrow. That’s a pretty good power.

    (Maybe without the brain damage, he could’ve directed the cygnets in any direction and from any part of his body that he could visualize them being directed in? Out the back of his head, from his left knee, through a pointed hand? But because of the brain damage the effect only occurs in his actual line of sight…)

    So maybe Alex and the Pharoah use light as the basic source of “initial mutant energy” too…the mutant biophysical energy-surplus is there, and they both have a hell of a lot of it, in a way they spend it much more indiscriminately than Scott does. Hey, Scott can’t possiby be getting enough solar radiation from the exposure of his chin, maybe his “field” is bigger than his body? But it probably doesn’t need to be that much bigger. And maybe Alex and the Pharoah have similar-sized fields, except they use them to produce bigger fields still, with which to capture neutrino flux? It’s probably dumb to force this much logic on it, but say the fields they can extend have a radius about the same size as the diameter of the Earth? Or Alex’s field has a radius like that, anyway. And it doesn’t just capture neutrinos, but cygnets too. Maybe that is what’s special about Alex, that the field he generates is so gigantic. Wherever the Pharoah is located on the map, he’s within the field of mutant energy that Alex generates. And there is enough neutrino flux to fill up both Alex and the Pharoah to the limit…

    …Because cross-section is absorption? But also maybe “density of mutant energy” is absorption? Alex’s field has a BIG cross-section, but it’s attenuated in comparison to Scott’s and the Pharoah’s (maybe Scott’s is both the biggest and the most dense, eh?)…it can’t catch all the neutrinos. There are lots left for the Pharoah’s much “denser” aura to grab. And he turns those into cygnets by the “fusion”-analogous process, creating energy as he does so…and then the cygnets interact with his cells to begin his “scaling-up”, bigger field and more cygnets and more energy and more EVERYTHING…

    …Or they would, except Alex’s “mutant energy” field sucks them right up. After all there are not that many of them, compared to the neutrino flux from the Sun and the galaxy. Their “field-density” is low. So the Pharoah’s body doesn’t change.

    But the “fusion-energy” is still there! Only the cygnets get absorbed, not the energy made in their fusional transformation!

    And those are the Pharoah’s bio-blasts. Not nearly as efficient as Cyclops’ eyeblasts, and so not nearly as powerful. Scott is the Mark Spitz of field-power-rendering…other people may have greater throughput of energy, but he’s still got the ultimate form: no power is wasted.

    Okay, I’m getting there. That’s true about Mark Spitz, by the way: he never cross-trained, but modern sports-computer technology tells us he has the most efficient swimming form ever recorded by it. They go in a flume, like Ford tests cars. The computer tells the trainers how much energy is being wasted. And the modern swimmers have lots more energy

    …But Mark Spitz is a swimming artist.

    Anyway…continued on next comment?

  16. It’s just that the screen starts to blink every time every time I do a hard return, after a while. Makes me nervous.

    Think I’ll open this other beer.

    So we were talking about why the Monolith becomes a planet, but Alex becomes a star. Mind you if you take the Monolith out to the Oort Cloud…I mean neutrinos obey the inverse-square law too, right? I mean, that’s just a matter of the basic proportionality of space and time, that we never think about (though other universes may be different: ask Dr. Strange). The further away from a prolific local neutrino source like the Sun, the more the “scaling-up” thing hits diminishing marginal returns (little economics there, in case I was leaning on the astrophysics too much)…uh, like that old story about the man with the fruit stand on the highway?

    Never mind. Anyway it makes sense: the Monolith can’t grow unless he gets away from Alex, but the farther away he gets the more he either a) loses access to a dense neutrino flux, or b) eventually falls into the Sun and DIES…or gets “overloaded”, or whatever. It’s still comics, after all. So there’s definitely an equilibrium there. And did you guys know (Nate and Richard) that someone on Wikipedia says that the Topographical Man is supposed to be the Monolith a thousand years later? Pshaw, though…the Monolith isn’t important enough to be Karanada, and anyway both Yondu and Starhawk disagree about the timeframe. Or is every cosmic-powered person in the MU to be thrown back in time now to be something else?

    (Note to self: must be careful not to give Nate ideas…)

    But so a funny thing about Alex, in this model, is that the light that strikes his “mutant energy” aura drives a further neutrino/cygnet-capturing aura which is attenuated because it’s so large…

    (Scott’s neutrino-capturing aura, remember, is something he directs down his line-of-sight…so it is small…)

    (If a non-brain-injured Scott would’ve been able to project said aura at will wherever he could visualize it, but the brain-injured Scott can only project it where he sees it, then Alex CANNOT direct it by visualization and so sends it out with the same force but EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME…huh, I guess theoretically you could measure Scott’s power-ceiling by considering that Alex’s aura extends at least to a radius equal to the Earth’s diameter…)

    …And Alex’s aura (the Summers Bros. are like the Marvel Flashes, all this talk of aura…!) captures not just neutrinos weakly but cygnets weakly, but turns cygnets into neutrinos too which makes many more neutrinos for him to subsequently absorb…and turn into cygnets…

    So it would be better for him too, if the Monolith was off somewhere in space…because less cygnets turning into neutrinos, less feedback, less disaster…!

    And, hey…

    Wasn’t the Monolith off-Earth during the first run of the Peter David X-Factor years, when Havok’s power was much more under control? And much more boring, too…”I shoot plasma blasts” oh well how very UNUSUAL of you…! Doesn’t match up at all with the Havok that we’ve ever known, but WHATEVER…!

    Sorry. Okay, so what would make Alex turn into a star. MORE AMBIENT CYGNETS. If Cygnus exploded and increased the cygnet flux in our local space briefly to match the neutrino flux produced by the Sun…then Alex’s feedback loops would tighten, and remember we have not yet accounted for the “fusional” or “fissional” energy involved…which presumably he uses, instead of for changing his body like the Monolith does, for guiding the direction of his cygnet-blasts as Scott does. Or for changing the cygnets (like the stem-cells of cosmic radiation, they’re starting to sound) (talking like Yoda, for some reason I am) to some other kind of radiation, just as Scott does not…but Alec can make ’em sit up and do tricks, turn to heat, light, sound…

    …To light, right?

    Alex absorbs light, just like Scott. Not as well; not as efficiently. And the effect he generates from his light absorption is too big to be very efficient at all. But suppose Cygnus blew up and the Earth got showered with deadly “mass-interactional” quasi-neutrinos? NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN. Alex would absorb them ALL. And turn them harmlessly into neutrinos.

    But what of the energy produced?

    If Alex himself started emitting it as LIGHT, through radically boosting its source it would amp up the strength of his “mutant energy” field, until he was capturing neutrinos like his brother captures light, like the Monolith captured neutrinos but on a planetary scale…and invoking the cygnet-neutrino re-conversion as well and Alex doesn’t get bigger in size he just sheds energy-remainders, so…

    Runaway process? Shi’ar prophecy?

    A star, sure.

    Whoof, that was a bit difficult.

  17. And now I could really use a drink, but I think my drink’s all gone…

    AH. No. One more swallow.

  18. I Twittered about this.

  19. @plok: Well you certainly did go to town on this. Glad the beer is helping the inspiration (We need to change those lyrics to “Plok Plokkersen could out consume David Hume”;)

    With regard to where “mutant energy” comes from, what about Matt Rossi’s awesome idea that there’s some kind of alien civilization living on mutant DNA, a multi-dimensional doppler shifting society of beings from Bohm’s implicate order that are living as hitch-hikers on the inert introns of human DNA, and some of them have so ‘over-developed’ their hosts that they’ve started the expression of mutant powers as a kind of combined microscopic/ extradimensional version of global warming.

    And yep, thinking Pym Particles and Erskine Cells:)

    I totally agree that Iceman’s powers were certainly underutilised and explored, and the potential of their application probably the most interesting of any X-character. I didn’t know that about the classes of Storms, etc. Claremont’s reducing Ororo to atea teenager would have been fertile time to explore this implication.

    With regard to Havok becoming a star, then there is the implication of his density continuing to increase to the point that he collapses, becoming a black hole. Now there’s a power some villains would love to have at their fingertips.

    I love the idea that Alex can’t stop sucking up those produced by the Pharaoh which would be a great explain for why Abdol is so desperate to neutralise him.

    Totally get the Mark Spitz comparison. Swimming ARTIST is so apt. What drove him above others in his field was his pure love/ enjoyment of what he was doing. The LOVE is what made him the swimmer better than any others. Imagine a mutant that was powered by that concept! The permanent cure to the John Sublime virus…

    You’re so spot on about Monolith losing the dense neutrino flux the further away he gets.

    His falling into the sun and dying could make him Ra on his journey through the night.

    Re: the Topographical Man being the Monolith a thousand years later, was this Krueger’s Earth X series? I’d love to know more.

    Speaking of giving me ideas, there was a sci-fi story I read many years ago that I’ve never been able to remember the title or author of so I can revisit, where photon birds were eating the sun. There was some great food in there that I’d like to bring up in relation to this, so if anyone else can recall the title please, please, please let me know.

    Re: Cyclops’ sustaining an acquired brain injury, it is interesting that if it was primarily frontal lobe damage that the build-up of energy rockets through his red glare. You should read up on the implications of frontal lobe damage and its physical and emotional impacts and compare this with how Cyclops’ personality was presented over the years.

    Yeah, totally hate the idea that Havok’s powers were coming more under control and creating less “havoc”. Did PAD actually consider his codename?

    The equivalent of more ambient cygnets would be the fracture of the M’Kraan Crystal, the neutron star therein containing their MU equivalent. Why then did we not see Havok more affected during the lead up to the Dark Phoenix saga?

    However, there’s a story to tell there if the Shi’ar’s agent on Earth handpicked his girlfriend, and he, to help attack the X-Men. There’s so much fertile territory for a story right there that fits around our hypothesis. If the M’Kraan Crystal had completely fractured could Alex have absorbed all the neutron galaxy’s cygnets and prevented “The End of All That Is” and yet nobody realised? Could his absorption here have been what would cause his destiny of becoming a STAR?

  20. Of course, black holes/neutron stars are created by a loss of radiation pressure inside a cloud too…a big collapse, only you can’t get a sun out of it because you’ve already had your sun: it’s the sun itself that’s collapsing. Black holes and neutron stars are made the same way Superman makes diamonds by clenching his fist.

    But suns run on hydrogen, not neutrinos. I don’t know what would happen to Alex as a star, but he definitely wouldn’t be on the H-R diagram. He’d be a little neutrino-switching seed at the centre of a big discharge of energy, trapped there forever…wow, stars as prisons? Now there’s a nifty idea! Quick Robin, to the notebook…!

    So maybe if his star “burns out”, it just means he’s “paroled”. Suspended animation switches off, and there he is again. Not having read any of the stuff that this is based on, of course…

    And I should probably point out that a) I’m pretty sure Cygnus has exploded already (duh), so that M’Kraan idea is looking pretty attractive really…and b) I never heard of cygnets before this conversation started. Gonna go read about them though!

  21. @plok: I wasn’t suggesting that his collapse would create a star, but that after he becomes a star he keeps absorbing and eventually collapses in on himself, eventually becoming a bh/ ns.

    I’d previously thought of our sun as a prison for the Phoenix, and did wonder if the Jean Grey’s mutation released it during the shuttle flight when they battled Steven Lang!?

    Check out Cygnus X-3 in particular which is thought to be a neutron star (a tiny dead stellar core) pulling its companion star to pieces.There is currently some debate on whether it is a standard neutron star or perhaps something more exotic, like a star made of quarks.

    It has distinguished itself by its intense X-ray emissions and by ultrahigh energy cosmic rays which we all know hold such significance in the Marvel Universe. It made astronomical headlines by a radio frequency outburst in September 1972 (close enough for me to Jean’s manifestation of Phoenix:)which increased its radio frequency emissions a thousandfold and since then has had period radio outbursts with a regular period of 367 days. The flares are of unknown origin, but are exceedingly violent events. Naval Research Laboratory observations in October 1982 using the Very Large Array detected the shock wave from a flare; it was expanding at roughly one-third the speed of light.

    Hope you get to my other queries in my previous reply:)

  22. @plok: Deep in the caverns of the Soudron iron mines are massive detectors designed to measure proton decay. They also measure some background cosmic ray events which can penetrate the thick layer of rock above the detector. Out of 1200 such events measured in a period during October 1985 were 60 anomalous muon events in a 3� cone around Cygnus X-3 with a precise period of 4.79 hours, so they clearly came from that source. Cygnus X-3 has an orbital period about its companion of only 4.79 hours.

    But no known particles can produce such events! Muons themselves are too short-lived to have travelled 37,000 light years so they must be secondary. The particles must be neutral to arrive with that precise directionality. They must be travelling at the same speed, essentially the speed of light, and there are no reasonable candidates for such a particle. Neutrinos, photons, and high energy neutrons are proposed to account for this, but the loss of the signal at the horizon might rule out neutrinos, however the alternative of photons is less workable since the photon flux is 300 times too small, and neutrons are way too unstable and wouldn’t survive the trip.

  23. Utterly fascinating. “Signal loss at the horizon” would seem to put neutrinos very firmly out of the question, and photons just seems wrong

    …Mind you, it could be muons, if only there was sufficient time dilation going on. Don’t know what the gamma factor has to be to keep a muon undecayed for forty thousand years, though! That’s a lot of significant digits…

    Hmm, interesting problem, and it sort of has something in common with the general Havok speculations and with Matt Rossi’s “implicate aliens”, since the disease is so bad that any cure must be worse: I mean, implicate aliens living on the introns sounds silly right up until the point where you realize that without it, you just have to accept that Colossus has a genetic quirk that enables him to turn himself into a human tractor. ALL OTHER MUTANTS START SEEMING PLAUSIBLE AT THIS POINT! Well, maybe not Nightcrawler…

    So the MU pretty much needs something like a morphogenetic field, at that point, so why not the intron aliens? Bendis (of all people!) did a neat thing in Ultimate Fantastic Four, where the FF’s transformations are caused by a failed quantum teleportation experiment — all the phase spaces of all the infinitely possible Reeds and Sues and Johnnys and Bens get screwed up, so Ben’s “Thing” physiology is explainable as physiology because somewhere there’s a universe where it is physiology! I talk a lot of trash about Bendis, but that was very neat and tidy of him, I think…and productive of story detail too, since Ultimate Reed could theoretically try to cure Ben in two ways…one, by getting the right “quantum code” that explains just what screwed up where and how and why…

    …Which (another neat trick!) is recorded nowhere except in Doom’s memory…

    …Which means Ultimate Doom could cure Ultimate Ben in about a minute, but he won’t

    …Or Ultimate Reed could take the long way around, the supergenius way, and try to find a purely physiological solution. Where in Ben’s new body is the genetic blueprint for the creature he would’ve been if evolution hadn’t gone the way it did in that mysterious other phase space?

    Lots of story potential there, sadly once set up it went un-used. But it’s still a better solution than the X-gene…which is a far worse solution than just not looking too hard at the Angel or at Quicksilver, but worse than even that is that it doesn’t go far enough. Colossus is a human tractor. There just isn’t a gene for that. DNA doesn’t bend that way. So bring on the dancing aliens on the head of their intron pins! Cut through that Gordian Knot! Ha.

    Hmm, and you know…while we’re messing around with stars and neutron stars and black holes and stuff like that…well, all density is energy-density really, isn’t it? So maybe the relevant quantity is whatever Alex is switching, at any given point — how many interactions is his power capable of at any given time. He absorbs neutrinos and cygnets and flips them both, then can flip them again once he’s flipped them the first time…so if this “star” thing could act as a star in a gravitational sense, pulling produced cygnets back in, then…

    Well, but at this point it’s verging on treknobabble, I think. ANYWAY…yeah, I think this all makes your Eric The Red stuff look like it really must have something behind it, eh? Nice outcome. Never read Earth X so I can’t tell you if the Topo Man that was referred to on Wikipedia was in it…I hope it was, though, because I’d hate for it to be “real”.

    Ye Gods, is that the time?

    • You might like to know that I’d call this race of dancing aliens Farandolae;) Try and guess that reference!

      • Channelling a little Madeleine L’Engle, are you?

        Quite a lovely little thought!

      • You got the reference! Wonderful:)

      • Or, when thinking of intron aliens, and on the other hand the neutron galaxy M’Kraan Crystal providing Havok et al powers, there is a way to marry these two ideas:)


        As a starting point there’s always astrophysicist Frank Drake’s speculation about the possibility of self-replicating organisms living on the surface of a neutron star. This suggestion was taken up in the novel Dragon’s Egg by physicist Robert Forward.

  24. @plok: It’s extremely interesting that you should bring up muons, and while I’ll avoid the treknobabble, I just have to spew forth the following observations about Cygnus despite the fact I might end up turning every other viewer away from this blog.

    Cygnus X-3 (RA 307.6 dec 40.8) has been identified as a source of ultra-high energy (UHE) gamma-rays of an extremely energetic nature. Indeed, their initial discovery in the 1970s was responsible for a complete reassessment of particle acceleration in compact stars. As early as 1973 the SAS-2 satellite reported gamma-radiation with a narrow phase interval of 4.8 h, noted separately in connection with x-ray and infrared observations of Cygnus X-3, estimated to be at 10 kiloparsecs (kpc, about 30,000 light years). This periodicity is most likely caused by the eclipsing of the compact star by its companion, since jet precession is now calculated to be in the range of 5 days. Cygnus X-3 is also thought to be a sporadic 12.6 ms pulsar with gamma-rays produced at or near the maximum (phase 0.6) in the 4.8 h X-ray cycle.

    The gamma-ray emissions in association with Cygnus X-3 are known to range between 35 and 200 MeV, although the COS-B satellite between 1975 and 1982 reported no radiation between 70 and 5000 MeV with the point-source signature of 4.8 h. Yet up to 1986 more than a dozen groups had reported the detection of gamma-rays from Cygnus X-3 with energies of at least 1011 eV. Gamma-rays in the higher range E> 1014 ev were subsequently reported and verified by ground-based collaborations in Germany, England, the United States, India and Italy.

    The extremely energetic gamma-rays from Cygnus X-3 were early considered to be ‘the products of interactions between even more energetic particles within the source, mainly protons’, leading to speculation that Cygnus X-3 was ‘the first astronomical object to be identified with reasonable certainty as a source of cosmic rays’, i.e. any cosmic radiation above 108 ev, or, indeed, a ‘cosmic accelerator’. Moreover, gamma-rays from Cygnus X-3 indicated that ‘only a very small number of sources of like nature would be required to produce most of the observed high-energy cosmic rays.’

    Among the suspected method of production of gamma-rays were two popular models. Either they were protons accelerated by the electric field induced in the accretion disk held in the magnetic field of the compact star, or they were accelerated by shocks in the matter accreted on to a neutron star or black hole.

    Between 1983 and 30 October 1985 various ground-based air shower arrays, including Kiel and Fly’s Eye reported extensive air showers with the direction and periodicity of Cygnus X-3. In Kiel’s case, particles were detected in the 1016 eV range (initially assumed to be gamma-rays). This was later confirmed with the pulse being narrow (duty cycle 2%) and occurring at a phase 0.25 after the X-ray maximum. Thus it was concluded that Cygnus X-3 accelerated particles to at least 1016 eV, and that if these were electrons, then protons might reach a higher level still. Indeed, at Kiel the EAS reached energies of > 1018 eV.

    At the same time in 1985 two underground nucleon-decay detectors set up originally to observe proton decay, Soudon and NUSEX, reported excessive muon fluxes either with a time modulation of the 4.8-h period of Cygnus X-3, or coincident to its daily transit. The flux from single-muon events was greater than several orders than that expected from high energy photon flux, suggesting most probably either a primary of unique characteristics, dubbed the ‘cygnet’, or a new mechanism for very efficient muon production in high energy photon-initiated air cascades.

    Excess muon quanta reported deep underground (at a depth equivalent of 2 to 5 kilometres of water) produced an angular spread highly suggestive of the primaries interacting in the rock overhang down to a depth of a few hundred metres. This was confirmed by the differences in flux between the Soudon and NUSEX detectors, with the latter’s flux being ten times less than the former, leading to the conclusion that this effect ‘can only be explained by attenuation of the cygnet beam in the rock’. It also explained the zenith angles of the muons, which were similar to the background flux produced by EAS. Furthermore, the underground muon energy measurements predicted a characteristic variation of the quanta according to depth, with detectors on the surface only being able to detect them at near the horizontal, due to the large interaction length of the primaries. This meant ‘such detectors would have to be very large to detect a signal’.

    Identification of the relativistic primaries responsible for these signal events has proven extremely difficult, highly controversial and even questionable. The enhanced muon flux recorded, particularly by the Soudon I group, was far too high for them to be gamma-rays, which produced a mere 1/300 of the muons (µ-mesons) characteristic of the reported muon excess. Their 4.8-hour periodicity meant that they had to have travelled in a more or less straight line at relativistic speeds, otherwise a spread of lower velocities would have washed out the signal. Clearly, the path of the cygnets was not curved by the galactic magnetic field, otherwise this would have randomised or deflected their arrival directions.

    The fact that the cygnets produced excessive muon (µ-mesons) quanta, implied that they acted to produce hadron-induced cascades. In other words, they were strongly-interacting particles, rather than electromagnetic particles, like gamma-rays or weak particles such as neutrinos. Further evidence against them being neutrinos was the fact that the cygnet-produced muon flux increased when Cygnus X-3 was overhead, and faded when it was not in view, the so-called ‘horizon effect’. This is not a characteristic of neutrinos, which do not interact in this manner.

    Thus the conclusion was that cygnet primaries, either measured in ground-based air shower arrays or in underground detectors, were long-lived neutral particles with energies anything up to at least PeV. However, the only obvious candidate was the neutron, which is unstable to beta decay and has a half-life of approximately 10-15 minutes. Thus the only way that they could have reached the earth was by travelling at relativistic speeds. Quashing this possibility was the fact that it would require neutrons with 100 times the energy of the monitored cygnet events. Neutral atoms could be eliminated since their electrons would have been stripped away by the 5g per cm2 interstellar hydrogen, causing their decay long before they ever reached the Earth. This is unless they had an incredibly high energy in the range of 1018 ev. The Kiel collaboration registered EAS with energies >1018 eV.

    Initial findings strongly indicated that the cygnet primary bore the following characteristics: 1) no electric charge; 2) no magnetic charge; 3) a rest mass estimated to be between zero and 1/20 of a proton mass, and less than its energy by a factor of around 104; 4) it was strongly interacting, in that it was hadron-inducing, and, lastly; 5) it possessed a half-life relative to its assumed passage at relativistic speed. Protons, neutrons, nuclei, atoms, and micrograins of ordinary matter could all be ruled out.

    The cygnets were not charged cosmic particles since they are affected by the galactic magnetic field which randomizes their directional flow and ruins any chances of ascertaining their astronomical source, which can only be determined if they correlate with activity in other frequencies that might contain a known periodicity or direction.

    Since neutral primaries arrive directly from source without being affected by the galactic magnetic field, they are crucial to determining the original trajectory of any cosmic ray. Gamma-rays are neutral, and so can also arrive directly from source, why we can trace the astronomical source of GRBs.

    Thus in order to determine point sources of cosmic rays it is better to examine neutral particles, which retain their primary trajectory across the galaxy and when travelling at relativistic speeds will also retain their unique signature, which has been the case with Cygnus X-3 and Hercules X-1.

    Indeed, as long ago as 1983 it was suggested that since the galactic magnetic field seems sufficient to randomize all charged particles during their long flights through space, pristine cosmic rays may not be charged particles at all. A study of the five strongest recorded UHE cosmic ray events (E>1020 eV) led to the conclusion that their trajectory pointed back to extra-galactic QSOs (quasar stellar objects) with a margin of error of 0.005. In order that the primaries do not violate the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin (GZK) cutoff for distance travel of a photon or nuclei, they saw them as long-living, neutral hadrons of a possible exotic nature.

    As far back as the mid-80s it was proposed that cygnets were exotic hadrons resulting from strange quarks produced in strange quark matter in the core of Cygnus X-3. Maiani, for instance, noted the observation of ‘very energetic particles’ arriving from Cygnus X-3, with estimated energies up to 104 TeV, as well as the observation underground of high energy muons correlated with a 4.8h modulation. He also accepted that poorer statistics might have been behind why other collaborations failed to register these increased muon fluxes underground, such as FREJUS and HPW. The primaries, he suggested, could be photons, which produce high energy showers in the atmosphere, and might well explain underground muon fluxes like those observed by Soudon and NUSEX. Yet results from these collaborations showed an increased muon flux too high for photons to be the simple answer. In contrast to Kolb and Ruddick, Maiani saw an anticorrelation in the reported muon flux versus the depth of the traversed rock, and the fact that NUSEX results were less than Soudon I. This was evidence, he felt, merely of the ‘absorption effect’.

    At the same time Kolb asserted that quark nuggets might lead to an enhancement in muon production over normal nuclear matter, yet even then only by a factor of two. He additionally considered the R-odd particle from supersymmetry and also the H-particle, after Jaffe. This last cited he saw as having a lifetime long enough to reach the earth, because of its double beta decay. Moreover, it bears four of the main characteristics of the proposed cygnet, although whether it can produce the enhanced muon flux depended upon its method of production. Despite this, the mass of the H, might not be low enough, something that only experimentation could determine. Even if the mass was close to that of the cygnet, the muon flux would be smaller than that reported. Moreover, the H cannot account for the angular spread of the underground muon flux. For instance, the NUSEX signal was seen coming from a 10 degree by 10 degree window in celestial coordinates, larger than the 0.5 degrees expected for an angular resolution.

    The following year Baym likewise proposed that the cygnet primary was the theorised H particle. Should its mass be less than that of the lambda (?) (1.1 16 GeV) plus that of the neutron (0.938 GeV), then it was possible that the lifetime of the H could be sufficiently long for it to be the cygnet primary, since it would not undergo the rapid decay into a single lambda or neutron.

    In 1996, Wilk and Wlodarczyk acknowledged ‘anomalous cosmic ray bursts from Cygnus X-3’ as the result of strange quark matter existing in its presumed neutron star. This supposition was explored further by Rybczynski, Wlodarczyk and Wilk in 2004.

    in 2005, similar to Kolb and Baym, Weber saw further support for the existence of strange matter in Cygnus X-3, which he speculates produces cosmic rays that to arrive as point-source signal events means that they have to be ‘electrically neutral’, like the cygnet primaries. Acknowledging their main characteristics, he confirms also that to survive the trip from Cygnus X-3 such particles are ‘long-lived’. In his opinion, the ‘only known particle which can quantitatively satisfy this constraint is the photon’. This is despite the fact that, as he states, they would only produce air showers with a ‘small muon component’.

    Weber went on to predict that the ‘natural candidate’ for the cygnet is the H particle. Their potentially long lifetime means that they ‘may be present as components of existing neutral particle beams’. Yet in order to give it long life, it would need to have ‘mass below single weak decay stability’. Furthermore, in order to generate enough H particles, the source would have to be a strange star. Weber admits that the problem with Cygnus X-3 is that, ‘it is accreting mass and thus has a crust, such that there is no exposed strange matter surface where small strangelets could be produced and subsequently accelerated electrodynamically to high energies into the atmosphere of the companion star where H particles were created via spallation reactions.’ Yet other evidence of strangelets in balloon-borne counter experiments, air-shower arrays and large emulsion chambers has convinced Weber that ‘some primary cosmic rays may contain non-nucleus components which generate extended air showers that contain both a large number of muons as well as very high energetic photons’, with Cygnus X-3 being a unique candidate.

    The idea that cygnet primaries are the result of exotic nuclei within Cygnus X-3’s compact star being accelerated towards the earth is based on the view that they interact as hadrons to induce cascades uncommon to the normal production of muons in the atmosphere. However, should it be shown that the particles travel at relativistic speeds and thus contain considerably higher energies than previously reported, then they might be explainable in more conventional terms. Soudon reported that the muon excess from Cygnus X-3 was coincident to major radio flares (from 0.1 mJy up to 20Jy), which have themselves occurred coincident with X-ray and infrared observations. Moreover, gamma-rays with the 4.8 h periodicity of Cygnus X-3 monitored by ground-based air arrays have also coincided with considerable excess muon flux underground as mentioned earlier.

    In 1989 Sommers and Elbert examined the evidence for EeV neutrons and/or photons from Cygnus X-3, based on the Fly’s Eye data, and stated that ‘because of synchroton radiation losses, EeV particle acceleration cannot occur gradually while a particle orbits in a strong magnetic field.’ As a consequence, they suspected that ‘if particles are accelerated in a neutron star’s magnetosphere, some type of linear accelerator must be responsible’.

    Accepting that the cosmic rays from Cygnus X-3 are neutral, since charged particles would be dispersed by the galactic magnetic field at EeV energies, the question remains of how neutral particles might be produced by accelerated charged particles. According to Sommers and Elbert, the range of possible models for the production of EeV neutral particles ‘is greater than the range considered for the production of 1015 eV neutral particles from Cyg X-3. This is partly because the EeV neutral particles can be neutrons as well as gamma-rays’.

    Crucially, Sommers and Elbert go on to state that ‘although free neutrons decay with a mean proper lifetime of 898 seconds’, time dilation allows some neutrons at these energies to travel the distance from Cyg X-3. On this basis, the energy threshold (0.5 EeV) for the data used in the Fly’s Eye analysis suggests that the reported increased muon flux could be neutrons, even though the collaboration was at the time unable to distinguish between a neutron-initiated shower and a gamma-ray shower (Sommers and Elbert, 1989). In final conclusion, they stated that ‘Cyg X-3 is a strong source of EeV cosmic rays’.

    The significance of Sommers and Elbert’s proposal is that with a relativistic linear acceleration through jet production, the view that cygnets are exotic strange quark particles becomes unnecessary. The neutral particles might indeed be neutrons, reliant on a new model based upon synchrotron radiation loss through relativistic flow.

    A one-side relativistic jet was observed in association with radio flare activity in Cygnus X-3 by Mioduszewski, et al using the VLBA in February 1997. It was estimated to have an opening angle of 12 degrees, and a small inclination angle of > 12 degrees towards the Earth, leading to the conclusion that it constituted the galaxy’s first blazar. A precessional phase of 30 days with an anticlockwise movement was also noted in association with jet production. These parameters were comparable with those obtained during the observation in September 2001 of a separate major radio flare by Miller-Jones, et al. using the VLBA over a period of six days following a peak outburst. The southern jet was estimated to be moving within 10.5 degrees to the line of sight, with a precessional phase in a clockwise motion of 5.3 days. The northern jet was weakly observed. Clearly, the implication was that both the precession cycle and the direction of the jets had shifted between 1997 and 2001. Through extrapolation of the jet motion back to source Miller-Jones estimated that the jets were ejected about 2.5 days after the radio brightness of Cygnus X-3 began to increase. Overall the parameters of the southern jet have been found to be consistent with what Mioduszewski et al. had previously observed.

    Bipolar jets were also observed in October-November 2000 using the VLA and examined by the NRAO, although whether or not these were a separate mechanism to the observed north-south orientated jets observed in 2001 has still to be decided.

    The speed of Cygnus X-3’s suspected one-sided jet was originally estimated at 0.35c by Cordova in 1986. More recent assessments of the relativistic jets following the 1997 VLBA observations by Mioduszewski, et al, provided a revised speed up to 0.81c, while Miller Jones, et al, following the 2001 observations concluded that the rate was 0.63c. Yet they accepted that faster speeds could precede the observable appearance of the series of bead-like knots marking the whereabouts of the jets; see also Hannikainen, et al for further discussion on this subject.

    Such speeds might be enough to enable short-lived neutrons to reach the Earth, indicating a realistic process for the arrival of low-mass neutral particles, and the possible production of increased air showers and underground muon quanta from Cygnus X-3.

    It has been pointed out that an observed velocity of Cygnus X-3s jet at a maximum of 0.81c would be too slow to compress time so that neutrons might have time to decay into protons.

    The 0.81c for the speed of Cygnus X-3s southern jet for the February 1997 observations is based on estimates of jet motion in radio flaring, and does not necessarily relate to the initial velocity of ejecta on all frequencies. Moreover, it is clear that the speed of the jets change, as is seen in the 2001 observations, where a velocity of just 0.63c was deduced. Earlier estimates of jet speed were even lower. Moreover, the bipolar jets monitored by the NRAO using the VLA in 2000 determined that they had an infrared speed of just 0.48c, which is much slower than the higher speed radio flares. Thus there is no reason why UHE and HE cosmic rays and gamma-rays from Cygnus X-3, or indeed any point source, might not exceed the velocity speed of radio flares.

    Signal events from Cygnus X-3 which feature the arrival of GeV gamma-ray emissions and hadron-like neutral particles have coincided with intense bursts of energies across multiple frequencies during the production of jets. For instance, this occurred in October 1985 when an increased muon flux at PeV levels coincided with intense bursts of radio emissions. In addition to this, there was a correlation between the excess muon flux recorded by the Soudon II deep underground experiment between 1991 and 2000 and Cygnus X-3’s production of large or intermediate radio flares. Thus there is every reason to conclude that the production of gamma-rays and long-lived neutral particles in Cygnus X-3 might well be the result of narrow, magnetically driven relativistic jets within a small angle of the Earth.

    It has been suggested that the cone angle of Cygnus X-3 poses a problem regarding any working model for it being a cosmic accelerator in its role as a blazar. In order to send cosmic rays in the Earth’s direction with the solar region being significantly inside the limit to the probability distribution has been estimated to be about 0.5 radian.

    Work has yet to be undertaken on this level, and the recorded data from both particle physics and astrophysics needs careful evaluation in this respect. Much of the findings cited from the 1980s of long lasting neutral particles from Cygnus X-3 has largely been ignored. This is a shame, for it clearly suggests that Cygnus X-3 possesses an extraordinary acceleration mechanism for the production of cosmic rays. As we have seen , their appearance correlates well with radio flaring and hard X-ray outbursts. Nothing has so far been published on any possible correlations between cygnets and major radio flaring during the years 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2006.

    The question with regards Cygnus X-3 is not whether it can accelerate out cosmic rays and UHE gamma-rays, but how exactly they might be produced. In my opinion, it is the production of relativistic jets, or shock waves in association with their production, that remain the best mechanism for their production, something predicted by Sommers and Elbert as far back as 1989. What is important about this and other similar conclusions during the 1980s is that there was no hard data available then suggesting that Cygnus X-3 might be a blazar. This came only through the February 1997 observations, and confirmed during the 2001 observations. In other words, working models for the acceleration process of cosmic rays from Cygnus X-3 were shown to be correct, making the evidence of long-lasting neutral particles originating from here an extremely likely possibility. What is more, they have continued to be reported. Soudon II, announced in 1999 that in its first ten years of operation the collaboration had regularly tracked excess muon events in the Tev range or above from the direction of Cygnus X-3, and again in 2000. There is every likelihood that cygnets are accelerated from source during jet production, and that at such energies only stable, neutral particles can travel the 10 kpc distance from Cygnus X-3 to the earth ‘along trajectories which point back to the source’ (Allison, 1999). Moreover, the Soudon II collaboration conclude that since known stable neutral particles – photons and neutrinos – have only small probabilities of producing detectable muons ‘Tev muons associated with Cygnus X-3 requires either exotic interactions of known primaries, exotic primaries or very large fluxes of neutrinos or photons’.

    Despite the Soudon and NUSEX observations of an increased muon flux underground during the 1980s remaining controversial, there exists good evidence for the existence of long-lived, low-mass, strongly-interacting neutral primaries from Cygnus X-3.

    Exotic primaries have been proposed to explain the reported EAS and increased muon flux underground, with strange quark matter from a strange matter compact star, most likely a neutron star, being currently the most popular model. However, with the introduction of a relativistic flow for the acceleration of the neutral primaries, it is possible that cygnet primaries are simply neutrons. Regardless of this, the idea of them being produced within neutron stars by strange matter remains an attractive theory, and exploration into this area of astrophysics is to be encouraged. It is ironic that the absence of a well-defined mechanism of production of these neutral primaries, along with their erratic data, has diminished the impact of these extremely important findings, which arguably hold the key to determining the first confirmed point source of galactic cosmic rays.

    With the above in mind, where is there left to go re: Alex;)

    Glad you like Matt’s “intron aliens”. That was pretty awesome the first time I read it.

    If thinking all others are plausible, why not Nightcrawler? If not, do you have a better explanation?

    Thanks for the heads-up re: Ultimate Fan4. Are you following Hickman’s Future Foundation and what do you think?

    I love the addition of Doom’s being able to cure Ben but won’t…

    I dare you to cut through the intron aliens, great Alex;)

    Don’t want to head into the “babble” but it does link nicely with my Eric the Red hypothesis, doesn’t it

    I don’t like the Topographical Man/ Monolith connection either, and I certainly don’t think Gerber would have gone this way. I’ve checked up on it online and it was apparently David Michelinie that made this connection. I like when connections are drawn between characters that resolve logical danglers, but don’t like it when writers do it for the sake that they can’t come up with anything better.

  25. never understood the concept of alexs powers for one if he is indeed drawing his fuel from cygnets then really he would have a limit of how long he could use his powers plus the fact given mr. sinster is after the summers bloodline he would have gone after alex more then cyclops for his plans involving the sumemrs blood line also intriqued with Jean being destined to love cyclops since she as phoenix is the gurdain of the crystal which cyclops and havoks powers seem to be from now. also love the revealtion that Lilandra was out to destroy the x-men from day one thus giving xavier the shiar tech including danger . though alsways assumed Lilandra was only after jean because of her connection to the phoenix force. not all the x-men

  26. Thanks for writing about this.

    What you are stating about these Shi’ar related issues could have been resolved if Chris Claremont actually explained (or got to explain) more about them and their empire.

    Since most of this was written by Mr. Claremont, it makes me ask why there was never more information about the cosmic potential of Cyclops and Havok in the first place. We all got to see Jean Grey’s rise to power. IMO Havok is also more powerful than Cyclops but was written as a lesser character who should be one of the strongest in the Marvel Universe. I had no idea Cyclops and Havok could get powered by the M’Krann Crystal. Most text back then appeared devoted to writing about Jean Grey’s experience with the M’Krann Crystal that lead to her death.

    Cyclops famously took time off from the X-Men after Jean’s death, and dated Colleen Wing. This time he spent off could have been a good opportunity to show more of the Shi’ar storylines you write about. Both the Summers family and Grey family seem to have pose a great threat to the Shi’ar, and the Shi’ar seem to have possibly noted the Summers brothers potential before this was written as the major interest of Mr. Sinister.

    Also, OHOTMU’s from the 80’s explained (IIRC) that Cyclops’ eyes were somehow portals allowing him to use his mutant power. IIRC, his mutant powers are fueled by solar energy as well.

    I wonder why there was an “End of Greys” storyline but no such story regarding the Summers family. Maybe such a story could have solved the ongoing plotline that is Adam X!

    And regarding Xavier and Lilandra: a Classic X-Men backup story made it appear to me that when Charles Xavier first encountered Lilandra, he forced himself in her mind across the reaches of space, while she never heard of him before. Afterwards, they are stated to be “soulmates” and later marry. Also note how easily the Skrull Xavier fooled the Shi’ar Empire and IMO ruined Xavier’s reputation.

    The idea of Charles Xavier marrying a colonizer like Lilandra also never made sense to me, either and seemed at odds with his goals (allegedly). This is a further interesting idea in light of Xavier never mentioning how the Shi’ar used Earth as a dumping ground for their intergalactic criminals who could have slaughtered at will.

    • If it weren’t for Classic X-Men #14, we could wonder if maybe Lilandra lied about everything — but this issue has her as a good guy, and it goes right inside her head to tell us so.

      If there is a vast Shi’ar conspiracy involving Earth and the M’Kraan crystal, this story contends she doesn’t know about it. Earth is just a backwater planet that she seems never to have heard of until the Xavier mind-link, and her concerns about the crystal are based on “the old legends” which is far from concrete knowledge.

      If the Shi’ar are at the centre of it all, why is Lilandra so ignorant, since in Uncanny X-Men #105 it is mentioned that Eric the Red was exiled to Earth by Lilandra and later recruited as an operative by D’Ken, yet in #107 Lilandra says that he was “our agent on Earth”.

      So Lilandra was aware of Earth a little more than Classic X-Men claims.

      So what’s up Chris?

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