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Pyrokinesis, derived from the Greek words Template:Lang (pûr, meaning "fire, lightning") and Template:Lang (kínesis, meaning "motion"), was the name, coined by horror novelist Stephen King for the ability to create or to control fire with the mind that he gave to the protagonist Charlie McGee in Firestarter. Critic S.T. Joshi describes it as a "singularly unfortunate coinage".[1]

Pyrokinesis is popular in fiction, with numerous examples in films, books, and television series. These include the episode "Fire" from The X-Files, the Beyond Reality episode "Enemy in Our Midst", the One Step Beyond episode "The Burning Girl" and the Fringe episode "The Road Not Taken". Several such works, such as "The Burning Girl" pre-date Firestarter, and have direct parallels with King's work. (King himself wrote that "Firestarter has numerous science fiction antecedents".) It is King, however, that first named the idea "pyrokinesis", this name not occurring in prior works.[2][3]

Several works of fiction explain pyrokinetic powers as being the ability to excite an object's atoms, increasing their thermal energy until they ignite. In The Science of Stephen King, authors Gresh and Weinberg argue that this is "vaguely possible", but characterize it as "generally the stuff of comic books", such as Marvel Comics' Human Torch and Pyro. Without some form of electromechanical device, such as a device to release several of the compounds that do spontaneously ignite upon contact with the oxygen in air (such as silane, a pyrophoric gas, or rubidium), or some form of triggering device located at the source of the fire, there is no scientifically known method for the brain to trigger explosions and fires at a distance.[4]

Pyrokinesis is also explored in the video game Psychonauts. In this game a boy called Raz develops a psionic power that enables him to make objects ignite.

In the case of A.W. Underwood, a 19th-century African-American who achieved minor celebrity with the purported ability to set items ablaze, scientists suggested concealed pieces of phosphorus may have instead been responsible. White phosphorus ignites in air at about 30°C; as this is slightly below body temperature, the phosphorus could be readily ignited by breath or rubbing.[5]

References Edit

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See also Edit

es:Piroquinesis fr:Pyrokinésie hr:Pirokineza it:Pirocinesi nl:Pyrokinese ja:パイロキネシス pl:Pirokineza ru:Пирокинез sk:Pyrokinéza sv:Pyrokinesi

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