Sunday, 24 August 2014

Concise Explanation about Lucy abilities and other details

The purpose of this article is to provide further explanation about the abilities of the titular heroine, Lucy,  who appears in the film, Lucy (and other details about the film as well).

For my review of the film, please visit this link:

SPOILER ALERT: This article is mainly about the film Lucy. Please do not read this article if you haven’t watched the film and if you do not wish to know the specific details of the film.

Note: The following explanations are provided based on my understanding of the film and what I know about the basics of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. If there are any mistakes found in this article, please kindly provide any comments below so I can rectify it.

Some people are complaining about the fact that the science behind your film — the whole idea that humans only use 10 percent of their brains — is not true. What’s your response to that?
Writer/Director Luc Besson's response:
“It’s totally not true. Do they think that I don’t know this? I work on this thing for nine years and they think that I don’t know it’s not true? Of course I know it’s not true! But, you know, there are lots of facts in the film that are totally right. The CPH4, even if it’s not the real name — because I want to hide the real name — this molecule exists and is carried by the woman at six weeks of pregnancy. Yes, it’s true that every cell in our body is sending 1,000 messages per second, per cell. And in fact, the theory of the 10 percent is an old theory from the ’60s. It’s never been proven. Some people worked on it, and it sounds like it’s not the truth. What is true is that we’re using only 15 percent of our neurons at one time. We never use 100 [percent]. We use 15 percent on [the] left, and then after, we use 15 percent on the right. But we never use more than 15 percent at one time.
The 10 percent is a metaphor in a way. So that’s why I was not bothered by that. I’m always amazed by these people who become scientists at the last minute and go, “This is wrong!” Of course; it’s a film. [Laughs.] What’s more interesting — more than the 10 percent or the 15 percent — is that if we get the capacity of full intelligence, in the film, we say that the first step is the control of the cell, the second step is the control of others, the third is the control of matter, and the fourth is the control of time. And I talked to a lot of scientists, and they believe that at least the first three are possible. They don’t say it’s true, but it’s at least logical. The good thing is when you take a lot of things that are totally right and mix them very well with a few things that are wrong, at the end of the film, you think everything is real. And that’s the magic of film.”

  • What if the synaptic networks of our brain are so perfectly connected that we are capable of transmit more information at one time?
  • What if we have access to all our motory functions, deepest memories and knowledge in fractions of a second?
  • What if we are capable of using 100% of our cerebral capacity, consciously at the same time (all regions of the brain are pushed to the limits and we are able to control the subconscious regions of the brain)?
  • What would happen if a person eventually gains complete control/mastery of elementary/subatomic particles that exist in the quantum realm?

10% brain myth - We use only ten percent of our brains.

Humans use most of their brain capacity in various ways. The notion that humans use only “10%” of their brain is proven to be false, despite the fact that how the brain actually works still remains a mystery. Most parts of our brain are not accessed consciously but rather subconsciously most of the time. 
  • Conscious activity occurs when you’re solving daily work issues, thinking about your loved ones or even as simple as trying to remember where you put your wallet. These conscious activities occur in different regions of the brain. 
  • Subconscious activity occurs when we are doing simple activities such as walking, jumping, keeping the body in balance, dreaming or even lifting your hand to reach for your cup of coffee. There’s a reason why you can think about anything in your mind while walking around in the streets.

According to neurologist Barry Gordon, our brain is active almost all the time and we use virtually every part of the brain for our daily routines. Neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein even provide some evidence to disprove the myth:
  • Various studies of brain damage: If we were only using 10% of our brains, then any trauma to our brain wouldn't be a serious problem. However, every single medical case of brain damage proves that the reality is quite the opposite. Studies show that even the slightest damage to small areas of the brain would have catastrophic effects on a person.
  • Brain imaging (neuroimaging): Technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allow the activity of the living brain to be monitored. They reveal that even during sleep, all parts of the brain show some level of activity. Only in the case of serious damage does a brain have “silent” areas.
  • Localization of function: Our brain has distinct regions for different kinds of information processing. Decades of research have gone into mapping functions onto areas of the brain and there is no part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.
  • Neural disease: Unused brain cells have a tendency to degenerate. If 90% of our brain were inactive, autopsy of adult human brains would reveal a large-scale degeneration.

Brain scans have shown that no matter what one is doing, brains are always active (but not all regions of the brain). Some areas are more active at any one time than others. The brain is enormously costly to maintain compared with the rest of the body, in terms of oxygen and nutrient consumption. It requires up to 20% of the body's energy—more than any other organ—despite making up only 2% of the human body by weight. If only 10% of our brain are useful, it will be a large survival advantage to humans with smaller, more efficient brains instead. It is highly unlikely that natural selection would allow such redundancy to happen.



It is unknown what the CPH4 real name is. In the film, it is said to be a natural molecule that pregnant women produce after six weeks of pregnancy in very, very tiny quantities and is intended to promote fast cellular growth for the fetus.  From the description, it could be referring to Thyroid hormones as they’re crucial for brain maturation during fetal development. They are also required for normal cell differentiation, development, and body growth. The following is obtained from wikipedia:

“Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is released from hypothalamus by 6 – 8 weeks, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion from fetal pitutary is evident by 12 weeks of gestation, and fetal production of thyroxine (T4) reaches a clinically significant level at 18–20 weeks. Fetal triiodothyronine (T3) remains low (less than 15 ng/dL) until 30 weeks of gestation, and increases to 50 ng/dL at term. Fetal self-sufficiency of thyroid hormones protects the fetus against e.g. brain development abnormalities caused by maternal hypothyroidism.
The thyronines act on nearly every cell in the body. They act to increase the basal metabolic rate, affect protein synthesis, help regulate long bone growth (synergy with growth hormone) and neural maturation, and increase the body's sensitivity to catecholamines (such as adrenaline) by permissiveness. The thyroid hormones are essential to proper development and differentiation of all cells of the human body. These hormones also regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, affecting how human cells use energetic compounds. They also stimulate vitamin metabolism. Numerous physiological and pathological stimuli influence thyroid hormone synthesis.”

However, there is also a molecule known as CPH4 in medical science. Its full name is 6-carboxytetrahydropterin synthase. This is an enzyme found in the cells of millions of organisms, but primarily in bacteria. Enzymes in cells are used to produce other types of molecules that are necessary for the cell to function. The CPH4 enzyme produces Queuosine. Queuosine is a modified nucleoside that is present in certain tRNAs in bacteria and eukaryotes and it essentially helps to hold the tRNA of bacteria cells together. The Queuosine modification may have the potential to influence cellular growth and differentiation by codon bias-based regulation of protein synthesis for discrete mRNA transcripts. However, there is no evidence to support that it has any impact on human intelligence or brain capacity.


Lucy - Australopithecus afarensis

“The first woman was named Lucy.” In the film, we saw Lucy drinking water by the stream. Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis. It was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. The discovery was extraordinary and provided an enormous amount of scientific evidence about human ancestors. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago and is classified as a hominid.

It remains unsure whether Lucy is truly the first human ancestor or not as there’s another older hominid specimen found in 1994. Ardi is the fossilized skeletal remains of a human-like Ardipithecus ramidus. Ardi is the most complete early hominid specimen and is estimated to have lived 4.4 million years ago. As of now, the discovery of Ardipithecus raised a lot of scientific debate regarding its place in human evolution and it is unconfirmed whether Ardi’s species eventually developed into Homo sapiens as Ardi cannot be a common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans due to its skeletal feature.


Lucy's abilities

Note: The abilities that Lucy possesses share many similarities with a character, Dr. Manhattan in the film Watchmen (2009).


  • Enhanced physical abilities: perfect marksmanship, extreme agility, instantaneous reflexes, fast absorption of knowledge, immunity to pain and fear, etc

“100 billion neurons per human, of which only 50 percent are activated. There are more connections in the human body than there are stars in the galaxy. We possess a gigantic network of information to which we have almost no access.” – Professor Norman

“Learning's always a painful process. Like when you're little and your bones are growing and you ache all over. Do you believe I can remember the sound of my own bones growing? Like this grinding under the skin. Everything's different now. Like sounds are music that I can understand, like fluids. It's funny, I used to be so concerned with who I was and what I wanted to be, and now that I have access to the furthest reaches of my brain, I see things clearly and realize that what makes us "us" — it's primitive. They're all obstacles. Does that make any sense? Like this pain you're experiencing. It's blocking you from understanding. All you know now is pain. That's all you know, pain.” - Lucy

The brain controls all the motory functions of the body. Any reflexes are controlled by the brain. Pain is a sensory feeling triggered by the brain to motivate the person to withdraw from damaging situations as soon as possible, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future. If Lucy has full control of the ‘subconscious portion’ of her brain, she can simply turn off (or enhance it to full capacity) any brain sensory function at will. As she doesn't experience any pain, she no longer needs to be fearful of anything at all. However, this comes with heavy consequences.

“My cells are reproducing at a phenomenal speed, several million per second. I’m having trouble precisely evaluating the time of my death, but I doubt if I’ll last more than 24 hours.” - Lucy

Lucy’s body starts to destabilize and disintegrate due to information overload. The synapses of the neurons in Lucy’s brain have become so well-connected to the point it becomes extremely unstable. She is constantly pushing her brain to its limit without control. In order to sustain the rapid cell damage, she needs to consume large doses of the synthetic drug to sustain herself (C.P.H.4 is said to promote fast cellular growth).

  • The ability to interpret/decipher/control various electromagnetic waves (TVs, internet or cell phones)
“I can start to control other people’s bodies. Also I can control magnetic and electric waves, and — not all of them, just the most basic — television, telephone, radio. … I don't feel pain, fear, desire. It's like all things that make us human are fading away. It's like the less human I feel, all this knowledge about everything, quantum physics, applied mathematics, the infinite capacity of the cell's nucleus, they're all exploding inside my brain. All this knowledge. I don't know what to do with it.” – Lucy

“If you're asking me what to do with all this knowledge you're accumulating, I say, pass it on … just like any simple cell, going through time.” – Professor Norman

Particles have wave-like properties. If she is able to fully control subatomic particles at will, then most certainly she is capable of controlling various electromagnetic waves. If Lucy capable of understanding how subatomic particles behave in quantum realm, then deciphering electromagnetic waves into useful information would not be that difficult right?
  • Telepathy
A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. These signals between neurons occur via synapses, specialized connections with other cells. Neurons can connect to each other to form neural networks. Neurons are the core components of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and the ganglia of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) which comprises the central nervous system (CNS). Through accessing the target's brain synaptic networks, either by touching or through various electromagnetic waves, Lucy is able to read, control minds or knowing what the person thinks at that particular point in time.

After fully aware of the quantum realm, Lucy starts to lose grasp of the 'World' we see and losing her humanity - our macroscopic World. In the film, she briefly kisses the French policeman as a “reminder” that she’s still a human.

“I feel everything. Space, the air, the vibrations, the people, I can feel the gravity, I can feel the rotation of the Earth, the heat leaving my body, the blood in my veins. I can feel my brain. The deepest parts of my memory.” - Lucy

  • Immortality 
Energy or matter is essentially the same thing (Einstein's mass-energy equivalence). Elementary particles are essentially energies, they are unaffected by time and do not age. At the end of the film, Lucy has truly become a transcendent being. She no longer need a human body and she has become part of the energy or matter that exist in the Universe.


  • Invulnerability 
Since energy cannot be destroyed, she is invulnerable to all harm.

Pierre Del Rio: [During the high-speed car ride through Paris with Lucy driving] “I'd rather be late than dead.”
Lucy: “We never really die.”

  • Manipulation (Transmutation) of matter or energy
It was shown in the film that as Lucy starts to disintegrate; she is losing her ‘boundary’…This strips her off from the fundamental forces that hold matter (her) together. As she starts to lose her body, for some unknown reasons, she can ‘see’ the quantum realm and able to learn how to control elementary particles at will. Therefore, she is able to alter her body size, colouration, density and strength, disintegrate other forms of matter and reconstruct them to a supercomputer. She is also able to 'see' the life energies of living beings.

“Every cell knows and talks to every other cell. They exchange a thousand bits of information between themselves per second. Cells join together forming a joint web of communication, which in turn forms matter. Cells get together, take on one form, deform, reform — makes no difference, they're all the same. Humans consider themselves unique, so they've rooted their whole theory of existence on their uniqueness. "One" is their unit of "measure" — but it’s not. All social systems we've put into place are a mere sketch: "one plus one equals two", that's all we've learned, but one plus one has never equaled two — there are in fact no numbers and no letters, we've codified our existence to bring it down to human size, to make it comprehensible, we've created a scale so we can forget its unfathomable scale.” - Lucy showing her perspectives on human concepts of measurement and distinction.

For example, let's take the comparisons between Newton's law of motion and Einstein's Theory of Relativity. In your opinion, which one is correct? Well, the answer is both are correct. But the difference between them is precision. The formulas and calculations proposed by Einstein are far accurate and precise compared to Newton's. Moreover, Einstein managed to provide an explanation about what gravity is but Newton doesn't. However, it doesn't mean that Newton's law is wrong. Both mathematical calculations actually provide a close approximation to how matter behaves on a macroscopic level.

Antimatter is part of ordinary or visible matter. Antimatter works exactly like matter and reacts to the same forces. You could say that antimatter is just like a mirror image of matter. Dark matter is something completely different than matter. Dark matter is a mysterious type of matter that no one can see but makes up 26.8% of the content of the Universe while visible matter (you, me, all stars and galaxies) accounts for only 4.9%. The rest of the Universe, 68.3% is made of dark energy. Nobody knows what it is yet. It is the biggest mystery in particle physics. So the question now is: Do our laws of physics apply to dark matter or energy? We do not know.

  • Force field projection 
If Lucy is capable of manipulating her surrounding atomic particles, she is able to generate a force field strong enough (by adjusting quantum mechanical wave functions and control quantum fields at will) to stop Mr. Jang’s second in command from escaping with the drugs.

  • Telekinesis 
All objects or matter are actually constructed by elementary particles themselves. With complete control over elementary particles, Lucy is able to move objects without physically touching them, even herself (levitation).


  • Quantum teleportation 
Since she has control over elementary particles and capable of converting surrounding particles into energy for matter transmutations, she is able to perform interplanetary and intergalactic teleportation by just physically decompose the target’s body and reconstruct the target’s body at a specified destination.

Teleportation can also be explained with quantum mechanical tunnelling. Quantum tunnelling is the instantaneous teleporting of the particle to a place outside the nucleus. In quantum mechanics, a particle has a finite probability of appearing on the other side of any physical barrier (regardless of its height or width) that classical mechanical physics says it shouldn't be able to. These barriers are any potential energy greater than the kinetic energy of the particle. Quantum tunnelling is a consequence of the wave-particle duality of matter.

 (Near) Omniscient: 

  • Atemporal (free from limitations of time) and able to perceive time in a non-linear perspective
Lucy: “Time is the only true unit of measure, it gives proof to the existence of matter, without time, we don’t exist.”
Professor Norman: “Time is Unity.”

Space and time are involved in a special relationship. So tight that you might wonder whether either of them could exist without the other. This interconnected relationship of space and time is called the space-time continuum, which means that any event that occurs in the universe has to involve both space and time. A simple example of this relationship would be that of two objects that cannot exist in the same space at the same time, they have to be in their 'own' space, or they might occupy the same space, but at different times.

According to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, time differs from place to place or time runs more quickly (the actual time speeds up) at higher altitudes because of a weaker gravitational force.
The effect of time passing at different rates in regions of different gravitational potential is called Gravitational time dilation. The lower the gravitational potential (closer to the centre of a massive object), the slower time passes.

Humans live in ‘macroscopic levels’ of space-time dimensions that are bound by the four fundamental forces – strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetic radiation and gravity. They travel relative to one another at slow speeds, generally unaware of the distortions in the passage of time and perceive time linearly.

Each of us, like any massive object, also warps the spatial fabric in close proximity to our bodies, although the comparatively small mass of a human body makes this a minuscule indentation. (Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University)

Humans are unable to reach the full awareness, understanding and complete control over ‘quantum (microscopic) levels’ of dimensions. However, a being (such as Lucy) who ‘sees’ or ‘lives in’ (later on) the quantum realm will perceive time in a non-linear perspective, whereby fully aware of and experiencing everything simultaneouslyunaffected by the space-time dimensions.

Lucy is capable of observing and controlling subatomic particles in the quantum realm (where all elementary particles that has “orbital speeds” that equals the speed of light). At quantum level, subatomic particles cannot be measured in terms of its exact position in space at a given time. The particles are also as likely to move backward in time as it is to move forward, and can appear to be in two places simultaneously. (Quantum uncertainty) Due to quantum superposition, she is able to see her own past, present and future simultaneously (non-linear perception of time). By physically touching others and gain access to their quantum realm, it is possible that she can also see their past, present and future simultaneously as well.

“Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.” – Lucy

“…the crucial part of our philosophical reflection we have today: can we therefore conclude that humans are more concerned with “having” than “being”?” - Professor Norman

“One neuron, you're alive. Two neurons you're moving. And with movement, interesting things begin to happen.” – Professor Norman

“If its habitat is not sufficiently favourable, or nurturing, the cell will choose immortality, in other words, self-sufficiency and self management. On the other hand, if the habitat is favourable  they will choose to reproduce — that way, when they die, they hand essential information and knowledge to the next cell, which hands it down to the next cell, and so on. Thus knowledge and learning are handed down, through time.” – Professor Norman

 “We have been subordinate to our limitations until now. The time has come to cast aside these bonds and to elevate our consciousness to a higher plane. It is time to become a part of all things.” – Ghost in the Shell (1995)

“If you can analyze a comic book, a TV show, a movie and extract real correct science out of it, then superheroes are just the right tool for explaining science, allowing students to find science more interesting.” – James Kakalios

“It can also be argued that DNA is nothing more than a program designed to preserve itself. Life has become more complex in the overwhelming sea of information. And life, when organized into species, relies upon genes to be its memory system. So, man is an individual only because of his intangible memory... and memory cannot be defined, but it defines mankind. The advent of computers and the subsequent accumulation of incalculable data has given rise to a new system of memory and thought parallel to your own. Humanity has underestimated the consequences of computerization.” –Ghost in the Shell (1995)

1 comment:

  1. Agree that a lot of what is happening to Lucy in the film is left untold. But there are explanations that can be drawn as to what is happening in end and through the latter half of the movie. Some of the ideas seem to come from Asian philosophies - Dvaitam, Advaitam, etc. Have a look here :!Lucy-2014-Explained/ce4s/56a4cf970cf22a61ccc963b7