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"Ant-Man" is a superhero that can change his size. Usually he can get very small, but sometimes he can get large as well. In the movie 'Ant-Man' (minor spoiler here) there is a scene where he is handcuffed. He manages to get small and thus slip out of his cuffs.

My question is: Is there a way to secure Ant-Man such that he can't escape even if he changes size? Using only chains, ropes, and locks, how can Ant-Man be restrained? There may be more than one answer to this.

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    $\begingroup$ Put him in a small locked container? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jul 12 '17 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a puzzle $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jul 12 '17 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ Is it a topology puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Jiminion Jul 12 '17 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ He can shrink to an atomic level, so technically nothing real can hold him. I haven't read the comics so it may have happened in the canon using others powers or sci-fi devices. $\endgroup$ – BreakingMyself Jul 12 '17 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ Puzzles with no "right" answer are generally discouraged; you should have some objective criteria, even if arbitrary, for determining the "best" or most "right" answer, so that we're not just assembling a collection of alternate answers. Additionally, there's really no good way to even prove if a particular answer here is correct. Finally, it's not clear how this is a puzzle at all. This question is Too Broad, too much Primarily Opinion Based, and too Off Topic; it needs to be tightened up considerably to be viable. $\endgroup$ – Rubio Jul 12 '17 at 23:40
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First solution:

Suppose you were to tightly bind his ankles. It is not inconceivable that Antman's feet would need to shrink by 10% for him to slip those bonds. You could similarly bind him around his throat. Now make sure that his ankle bonds are attached to one wall of the room and his throat bonds to the opposite wall, and stretched tight so that his head and ankles cannot move towards each other. If he were to shrink by the 10% needed to slip his bonds, his head and ankles would essentially be pulled apart relatively speaking. In other words, he would be stretched to make him 10% longer which is rather painful.

Second solution:

Have him swallow one end of the rope and wait till it comes out the other end. Then tie the two ends of the rope a fixed anchor point. His body and the rope now form two linked rings. Such linking is a topological invariant under continuous transformations such as shrinking. A more practical linkage is possible using the nose and mouth holes.

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    $\begingroup$ Swallowing a rope would likely be fatal because different parts would get pulled at different speed through the digestive tract. Of course, if Ant Man gets killed, problem solved. $\endgroup$ – supercat Jul 12 '17 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ @supercat: I guess you haven't seen the 1994 documentary Crumb. $\endgroup$ – Jaap Scherphuis Jul 13 '17 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for posting an answer so I don't have to. I was thinking of the 2nd version of the second solution, but I also saw the Crumb documentary. The other (non-string) brother was so troubled. Very sad. $\endgroup$ – Jiminion Jul 13 '17 at 15:32
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You could use ropes and or chains, with or without locks to just fully wrap Ant Man up - surrounding his entire body that is.

If he is fully enclosed, with his arms at his side tied against his body, and his legs together, unable to move, he would be out of luck. Make sure his hand is flat and he's unable to clench his hand to press the button to shrink him.

His ability is activated by pressing a button in his hand to activate the shrink, so if he can't squeeze his head, he can't shrink therefore negating the power that freed him from the handcuffs.


If he's allowed to change size, this seems impossible. What rope, chain or lock can exist at human and at any size such that when he shrinks he does not fall out of it or otherwise escape?

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  • $\begingroup$ "My question is: Is there a way to secure Ant-Man such that he can't escape even if he changes size?" $\endgroup$ – Jiminion Jul 12 '17 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ If you secure him in such a way that he can't change size, problem solved :P $\endgroup$ – n_plum Jul 12 '17 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ It's a button on his hand, he doesn't have to tap his head. In the film he may need to be wearing the helmet, but he doesn't need to touch it to shrink/embiggen. $\endgroup$ – sirjonsnow Jul 12 '17 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ Answer: Tie a lock to the end of a chain, and swing it around wildly until it hits Ant-man's head and kills him. He can't change size if he's dead! $\endgroup$ – edderiofer Jul 12 '17 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ Updated sirjonsnow. Regardless, just in some way secure his body so much that he cannot move or in anyway activate the ability. Otherwise he can escape any rope/chain/lock. As Gerbil said, putting him in a box would be your only realistic option which is not topology. $\endgroup$ – n_plum Jul 12 '17 at 19:57

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