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The question: How much heat damage can Misaka's shocks do to a regular human at max output?

I realize physics questions are not a good fit for us, but considering the user posted their own answer, I don't see it as a problem. It was closed for being off topic, but looking through the help center, I don't see an actual reason this is off topic. Physics is actually a bit relevant when it comes to A Certain Magical Index, as it is a story where magic and science collide, so one could argue it falls under "Historical or societal context of an anime or manga".

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  • Note: I originally intended to ask this question in the same post as How does Misaka survive heat dissipation in her own body when using her abilities? (which hasn't gotten any close-votes so far, so it seems that at least that is on-topic), but when I asked it like that, IIRC, it got a close-vote for being too broad. I decided to make a separate, self-answered Q&A because I wasn't certain that I was doing the math/logic right (this would let others post competing, better answers), and sure enough, other people brought up points I hadn't considered.
    – starball
    Jan 18, 2023 at 5:45
  • And at the time of asking both these questions, I didn't know the information about personal realities that is in your (Shaymin's) answer, so I incorrectly assumed that the question about heat damage to a normal person would be required to answer the one about damage to Misaka herself. I had no devious intent. I just didn't know something and tried to do my best and be a good community contributor based on what I knew.
    – starball
    Jan 18, 2023 at 5:54

2 Answers 2

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Anime physics came at a point where we didn't know what we were doing and trying to find a niche. The question of why Mikoto's railgun is so destructive is frame more toward looking for an in-universe explanation to attempt to explain things drawing in realize physics as an analogy of sorts. Anime of course is not typically grounded or constrained by real-life laws of physics. Those types of questions had their ups and downs, but we can still have some fun sprinkling a bit of math on our answers.

The mentioned question in my opinion really straddles a fine line between something hypothetical and something unreasonably absurd. Such as aside from Level 6 Shift Mikoto being under the influence of Kihara Gensei. It would be our of character for Mikoto to launch a person as materiel for a railgun (it would be more of something Mugino or Accelerator [maybe Kakine] might do). She sticks to her arcade coins for a reason. Mikoto throughout Railgun and Index reaches different peaks and power spikes. Level 6 Shift Mikoto (mentioned to be 2% of the power of Level 6) and Mikoto's Liquid Proof (i.e., liquid coated) Railgun, supported by Misaki, piloting the Anti-Art Attachment are both extremely powerful, but on different levels and circumstances. Both can be considered "maximum potential". In these forms the power and potential of these forms really exceed the bounds to real-life physics, so how do you expect to calculate the uncalculateable?

As for the physics part of the question, there are a lot of variables to consider and a lot of assumptions to be made, the heat capacity/conductivity of a human for one can vary by climate, environment (indoor v outdoor vs in a vacuum), and what a person is wearing, their water, fat content, method of conducting/heat generation (microwaves vs sonic waves vs conductive current vs accumulated air friction by some means) etc. A person of Mikoto's build is likely to be below that of an average person (she is a middle schooler to high schooler, depending on which time period you look at, after all). Even if we attempted to infer optimal conditions, with in realistic bounds, what question about the series will this question really answer? The question itself is not unlike power comparison of characters in ideal scenarios with ideal power ups, sure we can indulge in power fantasies, but will questions like this be useful for anything but filling head canon? How fast can Mikoto heat up a burrito in average would be more reasonable than how fast can Mikoto burn up a human body at the very peak of her power.

Even if we were to focus on only the physics side and ignore the fantastical anime power level bits, it's more hypothetical thermodynamics than anime and manga related. Without the Railgun power level stuff it might be something better suited for Physics.SE, if they even take these types of questions.

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  • Reading your extended reasoning here, I'm wondering now if there's a miscommunication between us that didn't get realized in the comment section on the main post. I'm asking about heat dissipation done specifically due to an electrical shock attack- not heat damage due to being used as a human railgun projectile. Have I understood you correctly? Was this a misunderstanding you had due to a lack of clarity in my question post? If so, I can edit to make the question post clear on that.
    – starball
    Jan 18, 2023 at 6:00
  • I would still say no. The way you present your question is fairly obtuse. The human body is a conductor of electricity. But what relevance is does this have to the series? Replace Mikoto with another high output source and this would be a question about heat conversion via human tissue resistance as the result of electrical shock. If you gloss over these details and give an arbitrary number based on predefined assumptions, if not very different from answering based of perceived head canon.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Jan 18, 2023 at 9:54
  • There are a variety of types of electrical contact, each with important characteristics (different types of current s such as AC vs DC play a factor). Tissue damage due to electrical exposure is caused primarily by the conversion of electric energy to heat, resulting in thermal injury.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Jan 18, 2023 at 9:54
  • There are also a variety of factors that affect resistance such as certain types of tissue having more resistance than others, such as skin and bones, and how the current spreads based on point of contact from most to least resistant. Factor's such as moisture (or lack of) in the skin or from sweat also play a factor. Electric burns typically happen at points of contact and typically spread from there...
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Jan 18, 2023 at 9:55
  • The question about Mikoto's railgun being destructive is a question pertaining to the inherit output in an in-universe setting, we use real-life physics here to extrapolate a reason and compare it to real-life as a frame of reference. The conclusion to that question is, given the calculations, something missing from the formula since the force she outputs exceed the hasty calculations made. It is not, like asking using real-life physics how much heat would be generated if Mikoto electrocuted an average person of her same build. Even if it was, there would be many depending factors to cover.
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Jan 18, 2023 at 10:18
  • "But what relevance is does this have to the series?" See my comment on this AMSE post for why I mistakenly thought (with good intentions) that such a Q&A would be necessary to set up a following Q&A.
    – starball
    Jan 18, 2023 at 17:48
  • This is an explanation base on something that happens in an anime/manga so it's on topic aside from the mathematics meta tag that shouldn't be there
    – кяαzєя Mod
    Jan 19, 2023 at 17:01
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I will of course abide by the site's consensus, but I would like to state my dissent as far as closing this question goes.

This question is similar and wasn't closed: How is Misaka's railgun so destructive?

I personally enjoy seeing these types of questions. They show a high degree of passion for analyzing a work and applying real world principles, and I believe that will draw in more visitors to the site.

As I've stated previously, I think the user showing their willingness to answer their own question makes a difference. And this user has given an extensive self-answer that might be of interest to others.

However, based on how we seem to have agreed overanalyzing is bad (Is it ok to overanalyze an anime?), it seems to me site rules are being upheld by closing this question. So, again, I'm simply stating my dissent.

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