TheMediocreMind

(OB) Lightweavers could produce radiation

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So, nowhere in the books have we seen lightweavers using the surge of illumination combatively. Shallan's army during the final battle in OB did apparently have some substance to it but it is supposed that she did this through a combination of soulcasting and illumination; or simply the 'weight' of concentrated stormlight. 

However, I see reasonable evidence that illumination could actually be used combatively, and to devastating effect. 

As we all know, Ars Arcanum has this to say on the surge of illumination:

Quote

Illumination: The surge of light, sound, and various wave-forms.

[...]

This method has a powerful spiritual component, requiring not just a full mental picture of the intended creation, but some level of Connection to it as well. The illusion is not based simply upon what the Lightweaver imagines, but upon what they desire to create.

Is this to say that lightweavers/truthwatchers can create ANY kind of wave-form? If so this means that in addition to visible light, (not even going to dig into the sound spectrum for the moment) someone with the surge of illumination would be able to create wave-forms ranging all from radio waves and microwaves, all the way up to gamma radiation. Are we someday going to see Shallan take the field and start microwaving voidbringers to a crisp? How about drop her into the middle of an enemy encampment and give everyone cancer from massive exposure to gamma rays? 

Even if one couldn't go so far, why not concentrate the lightweaving into a super powerful laser death ray and blast holes through baddies? 

I see major B-A potential here :)

 

Edited by TheMediocreMind
Typo fix
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2 hours ago, TheMediocreMind said:

Even if one couldn't go so far, why not concentrate the lightweaving into a super powerful laser death ray and blast holes through baddies? 

They could do it in theory. the problem is only in the amount of Investiture required for this. The Stormlight's requirement is proibitive

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I had thought about this concept too in the past, and I can definitely see it maybe being experimented with in the last Mistborn trilogy (Scadrial vs Roshar space fights anyone??? :lol:). Unless Brandon decides it’s too OP, like with speed bubbles and red shift. 

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I wouldn't be surprised if the Shattered Plains was caused by the Surge of Illumination. There's hints that Honor was doing things to keep the Radiants safe. For example, maybe he was limiting the maximum amount of Stormlight they could use. With Honor now being dead, those limits have now been removed it seems, making the Radiants much more dangerous. If we imagine a single person using the Surge of "Illumination" to create wave-forms in the ground (sound is just vibrating air after all) during a highstorm then perhaps destruction on the scale of the Shattered Plains would be possible. This is just a theory. I'm not suggesting that all Radiants would be able to do this - reaching the 5th Ideal seems to be special in various ways, so it's possible that only a 5th Ideal Radiant would be dangerous on this level. 

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With the focus on cymantics (is that the word for whatever Kabsal did with the plate sand and vibrations?) I imagine that lightweavers are ridiculously powerful.

We know that they can manipulate sound, and we know that many of the major cities in Roshar are made in a cymantic pattern like by sound.

That sets up for some insane light weaving tricks in the future if they did that.

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The cymatic cities thing seems like maybe something that would take both a Lightweaver and a Stoneward (or multiples of both, for a city scale project?), unless we're assuming the Windblades et al were Soulcast in place, but that seems prohibitively expensive.

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I was thinking this same thing just the other day. It seams many of the surges could have power well beyond what we think. With Illumination, you could also bend light, you could use this to make yourself invisible, or even possibly viewing the past. How about Gravitations ability to alter the gravitational constant? you could change the gravity of a planet causing it to alter its orbit. It starts to make sense how surgebinders could destroy a planet.

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26 minutes ago, Messremb said:

I was thinking this same thing just the other day. It seams many of the surges could have power well beyond what we think. With Illumination, you could also bend light, you could use this to make yourself invisible, or even possibly viewing the past. How about Gravitations ability to alter the gravitational constant? you could change the gravity of a planet causing it to alter its orbit. It starts to make sense how surgebinders could destroy a planet.

It does make sense that they could, and the only real requirement, like was said above, is the limit on how much Stormlight they have at the time. But with the ability to open a Perpendicularity to access the unlimited Investiture in the Spiritual Realm at any time, these dangers become much more real. 

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microwave is not really useful for figthing. we use them for cooking, but the problem is always the amount; they are no more energetic than visible light, if you want to hurt someone with the heat the energy requirement is the same as if you were using visible light: a lot of energy, too much to be practical.

radiations are somewhat more useful, but not too much. sure, you can irradiate an enemy army, and for a moderate amount of power they will get cancer... within 10 or 20 years. not of much help right now. and if you want to kill them with acute radiation poisoning, again, that takes a lot of power.

the use of a perpendicularity to power surgebinding is the only thing making this viable

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3 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

microwave is not really useful for figthing. we use them for cooking, but the problem is always the amount; they are no more energetic than visible light, if you want to hurt someone with the heat the energy requirement is the same as if you were using visible light: a lot of energy, too much to be practical.

radiations are somewhat more useful, but not too much. sure, you can irradiate an enemy army, and for a moderate amount of power they will get cancer... within 10 or 20 years. not of much help right now. and if you want to kill them with acute radiation poisoning, again, that takes a lot of power.

the use of a perpendicularity to power surgebinding is the only thing making this viable

Gama radiation could cause death very quickly, almost instantly if focused enough. the only things that could limit this is how much stormlight it would take, and how much control a Lightweaver has over waves. Since we have no way of properly knowing how much stormlight it would take, or how much control a lightweaver has, there is no way to prove or disprove the potential. So we are left with simple speculations about the possibility of the power.

Also, I think you are underplaying the power of microwaves. there is a reason microwaves require the door to be closed to work. microwaves interact with molecules causing them to heat up, you could literally cook people alive with them if they don't have the proper shielding.

  

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2 hours ago, Messremb said:

Gama radiation could cause death very quickly, almost instantly if focused enough. the only things that could limit this is how much stormlight it would take, and how much control a Lightweaver has over waves. Since we have no way of properly knowing how much stormlight it would take, or how much control a lightweaver has, there is no way to prove or disprove the potential. So we are left with simple speculations about the possibility of the power.

Also, I think you are underplaying the power of microwaves. there is a reason microwaves require the door to be closed to work. microwaves interact with molecules causing them to heat up, you could literally cook people alive with them if they don't have the proper shielding.

  

I reiterate, it is a matter of how much power is being irradiated. the microwave oven heats stuff up because it generally uses 800 watts or more. A strong lamp uses 100 watts. If you put a lamp making visible light inside a microwave oven and powered it with 800 watts, it would heat the food just as much. if you pointed a 100 W microwave lamp against a person, it would do no more harm than a 100 W floodlight. It's watts that matters for energy transfer, not wavelenght. wavelength matters for potential dna damage, and as I said, even with gamma rays a lethal dose takes up a fair amount of power.

now, the way shallan makes her illusion doesn't obey any normal law of energy consumption - otherwise, starting the illusion wouldn't be much more expensive than keeping them up. Given the amount of gems she needs to start up a normal illusion, however, I believe that the stormlight required to weaponize lightweaving - either by making a laser or a gamma burst - is prohibitively high in normal conditions

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38 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

I reiterate, it is a matter of how much power is being irradiated. the microwave oven heats stuff up because it generally uses 800 watts or more. A strong lamp uses 100 watts. If you put a lamp making visible light inside a microwave oven and powered it with 800 watts, it would heat the food just as much. if you pointed a 100 W microwave lamp against a person, it would do no more harm than a 100 W floodlight. It's watts that matters for energy transfer, not wavelenght. wavelength matters for potential dna damage, and as I said, even with gamma rays a lethal dose takes up a fair amount of power.

Microwave heating and visible light heating work by very different mechanisms (see dielectric heating), so the wavelength does matter.  The main reason is that the wavelength affects the penetration distance, so microwaves can get at your insides, while visible light is almost completely absorbed by your skin.  Microwave burns are a very real thing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_burn).  In fact, there exist non-lethal microwave weapon systems.  

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As others have said, it could be prohibitively expensive in terms of Stormlight to create a lethal dose of gamma rays with Illumination. So it's probably not the most effective tool, even if the characters could use it, which is unlikely.

More conventional uses of light would probably be far more effective, eg:

  • Sensory overload: simply make a very bright light and blind your opponents
  • Sensory deprivation: Lightweave a dark box around the opponent's head, making it impossible for them to see and hear. (Not sure how practical this would be but it doesn't seem to advanced).
  • Sensory confusion: create mirror images, displaced images etc

If you want WMD style then:

  • Currently, it seems most likely that the Shattered Plains was caused by Radiants (or even a single Radiant). Probably by making the ground vibrate to a very strong sound wave, or similar.
  • If it is possible to create lens effects or mirror effects then it would be practical to focus the rays of the sun. The focal length and direction would probably need to be adjusted on the fly for this to really work though.
  • Lasers. Would such a thing be possible purely with the Surge by itself, or maybe with a handy gem? Or would more be needed?
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Honestly I'm more interested in radio waves as a means of communication than the weaponized uses. We've seen how much trouble it is when the spanreeds go dark, so having an invisible, unstoppable method of communicating long distances could be very valuable. 

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(Minor Mistborn Era 2 spoilers ahead)

One issue that I see with Lightweavers creating micro/radio/gamma rays is that at this point in technological development, Roshar has no idea what those are. Since the intention of the magic practitioner is important for their ability to use Investiture, it would be hard for Lightweavers to create electromagnetic radiation that they didn't even have a good concept of. Thus far in the Cosmere, the most technologically advanced people are the Scadrians, and even they don't have radio yet, since (minor Shadows of Self spoiler):

Spoiler

Harmony says that he made life too easy for them. They aren't trying hard to discover new things, so they are behind in Harmony's projected development timeline for them.

To illustrate this principle, that using Investiture requires a concept and intention, here's this WoB:

Quote

Moogle

Compounding requires practice, according to The Hero of Age's annotations. And yet, it's apparently as easy as burning a metalmind. What was going on that meant the Inquisitors couldn't figure out how to do it (despite Ruin likely knowing how and undoubtedly wanting them to learn) for over a year? What skill did they need to practice doing, exactly?

And what happened while they were practicing burning metalminds without successfully Compounding? Did they get an Allomantic effect?

Brandon Sanderson

What I think I was getting at in the annotations was a cosmere magic rule that, perhaps, I hadn't completely refined yet. This is the idea that INTENTION is vitally important to the workings of most cosmere magics.

You can learn to burn metals instinctively over time, but it does take time--time for your body to figure out what it's doing. If you have instruction and guidance, you can pick it up in an evening, like Vin did. Same goes for most of the magics. This ties into Awakening, with the idea that you have to form a command.

During Warbreaker was where I really refined this aspect of the magic. Logically, since the beginning of the cosmere, I've wanted all three Realms to be important to the way the magics worked. The "Practice" therefore for compounding is mental practice--a barrier to overcome in understanding what is happening, and what it will do to you.

If you already know all of these things by having it explained to you, that barrier is far less high. I think that was what I was talking about in the Annotations, without really having the idea specified yet--though I'd have to look back at the annotation and re-read it to say for certain.

(emphasis added, https://wob.coppermind.net/events/98-worldbuilders-ama/#e850)

So, as of now, Lightweavers wouldn't be able to produce these kinds of radiation without someone teaching them about the electromagnetic spectrum. Who could do this? I see two options:

  1. A friendly (or not friendly) Scadrian Worldhopper shows up, having freshly discovered radio and perhaps a plethora of other new technology, and teaches everyone.
  2. Since Harmony seems to have gained a knowledge of scientific advancements, including an approximate timeline of when they should be discovered, it stands to reason that other Shards would have an understanding of this kind of thing and could teach the Radiants.

Item 2 brings up an interesting idea:

There are three Shards on Roshar: Honor, Cultivation, and Odium. Honor is dead, and Cultivation isn't really talking directly with anybody right now. Odium, however is alive and kicking. This gives the Dawnsingers/Listeners/parsh-whatevers a definite advantage. Assuming Odium gained the same scientific that Harmony did through Ascension, Odium could educate his Illumination-wielding Voidbinders in other forms of radiation, something that the Knights Radiant don't have access to. 

In the Cosmere, knowledge is power.

Another thing that most Voidbinders have on their side is a direct link to Odium for Voidlight (in my understanding, similar to an Allomancer's direct connection to Preservation). Since these Voidbinders don't need to rely on a supply of gemstones for Investiture, I suspect they would be more capable of brute feats requiring large quantities of Investiture.

Thus, I think that it is possible for Odium to teach his forces to wield deadly radiation in combat or another use that hasn't really been discussed here: communication

I would think that when someone with Illumination becomes attuned to their powers, they could sense other forms of radiation (similar to Savantism on Scadrial). This could allow Illumination Surgebinders to communicate in a Morse-like code (handy that they're bound to Cryptics) without the need for a spanreed or similar device. 

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5 minutes ago, Rainier said:

Honestly I'm more interested in radio waves as a means of communication than the weaponized uses. We've seen how much trouble it is when the spanreeds go dark, so having an invisible, unstoppable method of communicating long distances could be very valuable

Just ninja'ed me! I agree!

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9 minutes ago, Carbonationspren said:

Just ninja'ed me! I agree!

Yup, that's what happens when you write a wall of text and I bang out a few sentences. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had that thought, and I completely agree with you that they would first need to discover radio waves before a Lightweaver could produce them. 

Communcation is probably the most important part of this war, as we have similarly-powered forces on either side. The force that has superior knowledge, communication, and coordination will get the most from the smallest force, and that kind of efficiency is going to be needed to defeat the power of a god.

Before anyone builds a fabrial to do it, I expect some kind of morse-code or telegraph style communcation from Lightweavers.

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I think the key hurdle to overcome is that the lightweaver needs to be able to imagine it. People on Roshar won't be able to imagine a gamma ray - or even light hurting people beyond just being really bright.

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Good points, everyone :)

The issue of how much power it would take could be negated considering that now we know that Dalinar can create a storming infinite well of stormlight for a limited time. (How long do we think that lasts, btw?) That alone opens up a bunch of possibilities that probably weren't really an option before. Agreed, this may not be an everyday thing, but it would be possible with Honor's perpendicularity, which we have seen can completely change the tide of a battle. Or a lightweaver could just use low level microwaves to heat their food :)

1 hour ago, Calyx said:

I think the key hurdle to overcome is that the lightweaver needs to be able to imagine it. People on Roshar won't be able to imagine a gamma ray - or even light hurting people beyond just being really bright.

I agree that perception is terribly important to performing any of these undiscovered abilities, but I have two points to counter this:

1. We've seen other examples of radiants manifesting abilities of which they have far from an intimate understanding on a physical level. Such as Kaladin using his adhesion to create spikes in air pressure, Dalinar bonding stones together, Shallon herself soulcasting before she realized her bond with pattern.. 

Plus the fact that we've only seen the third ideal of lightweaving so far; further oaths might grant a better understanding of the surge, or possibly accidental manifestations which lead to such greater understanding. 

2. Shallon is a scholar. As she gets to know her abilities better she may realize that she can create the full spectrum of different sounds, (which, as mentioned, could be a deadly weapon on its own) is it such a leap that she might then apply the same ideas to her lightweaving and see what happens? She could begin pushing the light spectrum to different extremes and realize that there's more to it than she first realized. Access to the surge alone may advance physical understanding of wave-forms to a much higher level. They probably wouldn't call it radiation. Maybe something like... deathlight :D

3 hours ago, kari-no-sugata said:

Lasers. Would such a thing be possible purely with the Surge by itself, or maybe with a handy gem? Or would more be needed?

You're probably right on this one. I didn't consider the focus necessary for a laser. A gem would be a cool way to do it, although we know they have glass, as well as glasses, so lens technology is available. Maybe a lightweaver could hold the lens in their hand and make a super-powerful light which beams out of their palm and through the lens, creating an iron-man style death ray. 

Edit:

This would likely work with any sort of wavelength, actually. I bet a microwave death ray would be pretty nasty, or maybe focusing like that could reduce the cost to produce effective gamma rays. 

End edit.

Or... Kaladin could use his adhesion to compress the air itself into a massive lens and Shallon could beam light through it similar to how Shallon and Dalinar can combine their powers to create their live-stream holo-map. 

Kaladin could probably do this with the sun itself now I think about it. 

Edited by TheMediocreMind
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On 12/7/2017 at 3:40 PM, Rainier said:

Honestly I'm more interested in radio waves as a means of communication than the weaponized uses. We've seen how much trouble it is when the spanreeds go dark, so having an invisible, unstoppable method of communicating long distances could be very valuable. 

Do we know how wide the continent of Roshar is, and whether the planet is about the same diameter as ours?  Because radio waves would be limited by the curvature of the planet.  CB waves (I think) can bounce a bit, but eventually they'd go off into space or run out of energy or run into a mountain range.

 

On 12/7/2017 at 6:18 AM, Blacksmithki said:

With the focus on cymantics (is that the word for whatever Kabsal did with the plate sand and vibrations?) I imagine that lightweavers are ridiculously powerful.

We know that they can manipulate sound, and we know that many of the major cities in Roshar are made in a cymantic pattern like by sound.

That sets up for some insane light weaving tricks in the future if they did that.

I was LITERALLY just talking about this last night!  I think that the Dawncities, or at least, the cities that follow a cymatic pattern, such as Kholinar, Thaylen City, etc, were probably made by Lightweavers in concert with either Stonewards or Dustbringers.  Possibly Urithiru, as well, though not with Lightweavers and cymatics, since it doesn't follow a pattern.

 

If Lightweavers can truly control just about all aspects of electromagnetism, ya'll are thinking too big.  Think quality, or rather, control over brute force.  Our brains use electricity.  Mess with that just a little and cause seizures.  Block nerve signals and cause loss of sensation or even vision and hearing.  Overload the sensory neurons and cause blackouts. Lots of tiny uses of finely pinpointed power.

Edited by RShara
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11 minutes ago, RShara said:

whether the planet is about the same diameter as ours

Roshar is about 0.9 cosmere standard, which is based on Yolen being 1.0 cosmere standard, and Scadrial is described as the closest approximation of earth, also at exactly 1.0 cosmere standard, so I think it's reasonable to assume Roshar is 0.9 earths in size.

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2 minutes ago, aemetha said:

Roshar is about 0.9 cosmere standard, which is based on Yolen being 1.0 cosmere standard, and Scadrial is described as the closest approximation of earth, also at exactly 1.0 cosmere standard, so I think it's reasonable to assume Roshar is 0.9 earths in size.

That's good to know.  So...chances are Roshar wouldn't be THAT large...maybe closer to North America than Eurasia?  I'm wildly guessing here.  But if so, it's quite possible that from Uritihiru, which is hugely high up, you can reach just about every corner of Roshar.

Urithiru could become the new Tashikk!

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