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The Questionable Science of Werewolf Telepathy

Science of Fiction

In my book Sold to a Wolf Pack (see: Chapter 18), werewolves can communicate telepathically within 50 meters or so. Stuff like trees makes it harder, closed doors make it nearly impossible, and windows make it all garbled. Also, any werewolf in the area can hear something that is said over the link. Can you explain my version of the werewolf mind link with science? And from a scientific perspective, would you change any aspect of the link so it would make more sense?

PART 2: I’m the only werewolf author who uses this sort of link and you should see the outrage in the comments!! In most other books, doors and windows don’t affect the link, just distance, and it often works across many miles. Some authors also have a pack link that works regardless of distance but can only be heard by members of that pack, not other werewolves. I’ve also seen authors who allow their werewolves to link with a specific person so no one else can overhear. Is one type of link more (or less) scientifically plausible?

-miameade

Part 1:

Your form of telepathy is the easier one to justify, scientifically.

Bats and dolphins can produce and hear sound frequencies well outside human hearing range. Dolphins can produce those frequencies while holding their breath and not moving their lips. It’s pretty much telepathy already. The werewolves could jump it up another kilohertz and even the bats couldn’t hear them.

Ultrasonic frequencies also don’t travel very far. They bounce off of or are absorbed by most materials, including air after a fairly short distance. They might be transmitted somewhat through glass, but it would be dampened and probably distorted. It would kind of sound like you were talking through a drum.

Anyone with a sensor that could pick up those frequencies would be able to detect them, though whether they could make any sense of them might be a different story. It could easily be that any werewolf in earshot could hear and interpret the sounds. However a human with an ultrasonic detector would only be able to detect them, not translate them into meaningful language without a werewolf brain to process them.

So what you describe is totally plausible in nature. The werewolves might just need some unusual structures inside of them to make it happen. A doctor or biologist would notice if they dissected one.

Part 2:

There isn’t a clear example of telepathy in nature that acts anything like this. Lots of animals produce pheromones that can communicate mood, sex, and health over long distances, but that’s basically done by sweating and peeing on things and having the scent carry on the wind. If I’m reading your question right, that’s not quite what you’re looking for. Whales can communicate huge distances with low frequency sound, but that only really works through water.

What we can base this off of is telecommunications: radios, cell phones, wifi, etc. There isn’t a particular reason that an animal couldn’t develop radio communication. Fleshy bodies are pretty terrible radio transmitters and receivers, but there are some examples that show a bit of hope for the idea:

Some animals have have electromagnetic receptors, like sharks. And electrical emitters, like eels, but that’s pretty short range. Many birds can sense the subtle magnetic field of the earth and use it to navigate. What I’m saying here is that telepathy of the kind you are talking about could be possible. Unlikely and difficult, but possible.

Shortwave radio would allow for very long distance communication, but it has some problems common to all communications:

1: eavesdropping. A radio signal is a radio signal. Any radio receiver could pick it up. You would need some way to encrypt/decrypt the signal so it just sounded like noise to everyone else.

2. Noise. A lot of things produce radio waves, particularly in urban areas. If you had a radio receiver in your brain, it could be really hard to filter out the noise and get the signal you wanted.

As far as having private channels, that’s entirely possible. If you have ever secured your wifi router, you have created a private communication channel. They method here is private key encryption. Werewolves outside your pack or partnership would still pick up the signal, they just wouldn’t be able to decipher it. It would just be white noise.

Basically how it works is that the sender has a secret key that they use to scramble up their message. The only way to unscramble it is to have a copy of that key.

Your computer uses this for internet communication and has to go through a complicated handshake every time it connects to a new https site to share keys. Pack members could share keys by blood relation, spending lots of time together, a fancy ritual dance… basically anything that would allow the transfer of data without eavesdropping.

Telepathy via quantum entanglement

You might see this come up if you’re doing research. It’s cutting edge science and it looks like it makes crazy spooky things like telepathy possible. It sort of might… kind of.

Quantum entanglement basically means that some sub-atomic particles are connected together so that when one is affected, so is the other, at any distance.

It sounds ideal for telepathy, but making those particles requires them to be in direct contact, and to undergo some pretty precise and high energy processes and they aren’t very stable. So the pairs would have to be exchanging a lot of physical brain matter on regular occasions for this to work.

Mmmm…. brain matter exchange.

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Featured Image

“Gray Wolf”by Dave Williss is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Ryan

Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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