Hi. I am curious about this. In another thread I asked if there are any characters in comics who derive their powers and abilities from recycling materials.
Is recycling a form of transmutation?
Recycling is defined as: "the action or process of converting waste into reusable material."
Transmutation is the changing of one element into another by radioactive decay, nuclear bombardment, or similar processes. Or the change of one substance into another.
Please help- thank you.
Everything is transmutable into something else given enough energy. Although 'energetic transmutation' has a cool-sounding ring to it, remember that creation involves destruction so ethical transmutation involves giving consideration to all the various effects of the process(es) and what alternative might be less harmful.
If you are a Marvel fan, considering the following quote from Thanos:
Thanos : [describing his new plan] I will shred this universe down to its last atom and then, with the stones you've collected for me, create a new one teeming with life that knows not what it has lost, but only what it has been given. ...
That is some mighty energetic transmutation Thanos is talking about, but it is beyond the ethic of harm-minimization.
Harm-reduction is the reason recycling is better than making things from scratch starting with the harvesting/mining of raw materials. Re-use, however, is less harmful than recycling because less energy is used to transmute the waste object/material. Re-purposing something might not involve changing anything about the object/material except how and/or where it is used.
Transmutation refers to changing something in some way, but it is subjective how small a change you can consider no-change-at-all. E.g. does the phase change of liquid water to ice seem more like transmutation than the transmutation of water to saline solution by dissolving salt in the water? Both changes are significant, but the phase change is more striking subjectively while dissolving salt in liquid water just seems like adding flavor from a subjective POV.
From another POV, of course, transmuting water into saline changes its conductivity and other chemical properties more so than freezing it. Ice is, after all, the same as liquid water in terms of its chemical make-up. The molecules just slowed down until they could no longer get by each other.