E=MC2 is a physical law, matter and energy are linked. Theoretically it would be possible to convert a significant amount of energy into matter, like reverse nuclear fusion.

How would the matter converter in Tron Legacy generate an army if CLU's plan was a success without an infinite amount of energy?

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    Since this is a "fictional" title, maybe it uses "unusable energy" aka entropy to generate matter/energy. Or you can say it draws energy from other dimensions like HULK or Transformers' energy cube. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 12:15
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    Your fundamental error is that you're forgetting that tightly packed code transfers to energy such that E(nergy) = D(ata)c(code)3. So that's (Data x code) cubed. Don't think you know everything about the universe now, that'd be silly. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 12:55
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    We don't know that the device is a matter-energy converter. Maybe it just manipulates atoms; as soon as Clu emerges, he'll have to replenish the tanks or... Oh, that could be interesting...
    – Beta
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 19:55
  • You could just as well ask: why doesn't the digitisation of Sam Flynn cause a catastrophic explosion?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 23:00
  • I had thought about this when posting the question. You could hand wave it that the energy is stored somewhere and used to reconstitute them when they leave the grid Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 9:26

4 Answers 4


There are approximately 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in the average human body.

Assuming the "device" is a perfect converter between energy and matter, you would need around 70,000,000,000 Megajoules of energy to create sufficient mass to generate a human from pure energy.

Since the output of the average nuclear reactor is around 22 Megajoules per minute you would need it to run continually for approximately 6000 years to generate the amount of energy required.

Digitisation gun from Tron

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    Definitely the best answer, its just impossible Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 9:52
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    @harmingcola - Actually it's perfectly possible (theoretically) just incredibly unfeasible.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 18:32

CLU isn't able to create new programs, only repurpose/militarize programs that are already in existence. Even if that weren't the case, the size of his army would presumably be limited by the amount of memory available to the grid. Since he has a finite number of programs to work with, there doesn't need to be a source of infinite energy to transport them off the grid and into the world.

As for where the energy comes from - as Binary Worrier alluded to, the digital version of an individual/program on the grid should capture everything about them, such that all information is conserved. The energy cost of moving an individual into the world from the grid would therefore be met by removing their presence from the grid, and vice versa.

  • Seems like it would take more juice, than the energy regained from "removing their presence from the grid". A small amount of atomic matter seems to convert into a large amount of energy. So, going the other way, the conversion would probably take more energy than is necessary to sustain the program in the grid. Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 21:09
  • Actually Binary Worrier was taking the mick, this is one of those questions that makes me hang my head and sigh for the state of geekdom . . . sigh Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 8:19

The matter converter would definitely have failed to generate that amounts of matter. The matter digitizer/de-digitizer can only perform the operation on small amounts of data/material. It entirely depends on the amount of power it can suck up from it's electrical supplies. To generate an army that size it would probably require an entire nuclear reactor hooked up to the matter converter.

  • What are you basing this on? Is this supported by something in the comics/games/tv show?
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 14:23
  • Even a nuclear reactor only converts a small amount of matter to energy. Even to store the amount of energy generated from digitising a person would be an astronomical feat of engineering Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 15:40
  • I am basing this on physics and some amount of thought process based on the movie. Tron does not go over any of these aspects.
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 9:54

I'm not sure if you could call the SHV 20905, which is what I think you are referring to, a matter converter.

In the TRON script (and movie), Walter Gibbs explains the process of Digitization as working like this:

Not disintegrating, Alan -- digitizing. While the laser is dismantling the molecular structure of the object, the computer maps out a holographic model of it. The molecules themselves are suspended in the laser beam. Then the computer reads the model back out, the molecules go back into place, and... voila.

Pulled from Here

The following assumes that the laser located in the basement of Flynn's arcade is the same or functions the same as the one in the original TRON film.

The molecules being "suspended" in the laser beam would mean that when a person is digitized, the matter that comprises them isn't converted into energy. and vice versa. Instead, when a person is un-digitized, the molecules that are already suspended in the laser are what is used to reconstruct the person. If the matter was created using energy, there would be no reason to "store" their atoms.

Following this line of logic, matter would have been needed to have been somehow pre-loaded into the laser, and it would have had to have been a VERY large amount. Perhaps if Clu had succeeded in sending his carrier ship and army through the portal, they simply would not have been able to materialize (As a side note, there would not have been room in Flynn's arcade basement to materialize all that anyway).

Obviously this doesn't make much sense, since this means that the entire mass of the user would have to be suspended in the laser, and I'm not sure if matter can be held up against the force of gravity by light alone. Also, the molecules would have to be compacted to physically fit inside the beam of light projected by the laser, which sounds very complicated.

The convenient way to make sense of this is to say that the laser operates on some technology we don't yet have or understand, or that this aspect of the story wasn't completely thought out by Lisberger.

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    Can you possibly provide a more primary source? As I said in my previous comment, wikias are informative but they can be edited by anyone to contain false information. As such, providing quotations from the primary sources are preferred.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 9:12
  • The only information gathered from the wikia was the name of the device, the quote is from the script of the movie, which was written before the movie and not followed exactly by the actors. scripts.com/script/tron_625. Anyhow, the rest is speculation upon what canon information is given by that script (the quote from the movie is more or less identical I believe).
    – Heymac
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 9:20
  • Oh my apologies, I didn't realise it was from the script. Adding that as a citation would be helpful. Seems like a pretty well reasoned answer, none-the-less.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 9:28

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