king of nowhere

[OB] the legendary metal that stops shardblades

38 posts in this topic

there are mentions of a legendary metal that falls from the sky and can stop shardblades. It is supposedly the same metal that was used in the siege of kholinar to shield the soulcasters.

I know it's supposed to be aluminium, as it has been shown cosmere-wide to be a relmatically inert metal. But the facts just don't add up.

We know from a shallan flashback that rosharans know aluminium. they soulcast into it. so I can't believe it never happened that a shardblade was used to hit someone wearing aluminium jewelry. Heck, with all the people szeth killed with his blade during parties, you'd think some of them had some aluminium.

even more shacky is the claim of falling from the sky. I've been looking into it, but I can't find mention of native aluminium being found in asteroids - though it is certainly a possibility, as asteroids lack the oxygen that oxides the aluminium on earth. But aluminium is much rarer on asteroids: it aggregates on a planet's crust because it's so lightweight. If lumps of native aluminium are found on asteroids, they are rare and small.

So... what the heck? is that a case of brandon making a mistake? is it a different metal?

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https://wob.coppermind.net/events/171-oathbringer-release-party/#e8183

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So, I'm intrigued by aluminum, especially the fact that it can only be found by Soulcasting on Roshar. So, how was it discovered in the first place?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

...Did I say you can only get it through Soulcasting?

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

In the Shallan flashbacks, she has the pendant.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Don't take what she says at 100% truth.

 

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I looked into this the other day because I was curious too. Aluminium is common in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Now, they aren't common in our world (around 5%), but that's because of the unique composition of our solar system. There is no guarantee that the composition of meteorites in the greater Rosharan system is the same as in ours. If the meteorites there have a greater proportion of this type, then it might be quite reasonable to get it from that source.

Additionally, aside from soulcasting (which presumably only works if you know the metal you want to soulcast), the chunks of aluminium are far more easily accessed from a meteorite than from the surface of a planet because of Aluminium's reactivity with oxygen causing it to change state. And Roshar is a higher oxygen environment, so there is even more oxygen for any natural aluminium deposits to react with.

So basically, I don't think he made a mistake.

EDIT: I just realised, he does make one mistake regarding it. He spells it wrong! a l u m i n u m

Edited by aemetha
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Brandon said that Peter wouldn't let him make that material out of aluminum.

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

You know the sparring guards, for the Shardblade training, the guards they put on the Shardblades. Are they made of aluminum?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, they are not. Peter will not let me make them made out of aluminum. He's my continuity editor, he keeps me honest. I tried to get them to be aluminum, but there are reasons why they can't be. So we had to make them their own weird little thing, unfortunately. But you could make a sheath out of aluminum for a Shardblade that would work.

He keeps me honest, so it's good, but I did try to fit them in that way.

Also, it's Aluminum in US, but Aluminium in EU.  Kind of like the u in a lot of words.

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I thought about this too. Basically why go to the effort to make a fabrial half shard when you can just make a shield of aluminum? The simple answer is atm they do not know aluminum will block a shardblade. Sure some people may have some aluminum jewelry but for instance Shallan's necklace it would really offer very little protection from a shardblade. It is not like it has a protection AOE. If you struck her anywhere but the throat it would do nothing to stop a blade. Since they seemingly have not discovered the process to refine aluminum ( or electricity for that matter) it makes sense it is just soul cast as an oddity/curiosity. It was the late 1800's before we developed a refinement technique to make it usable and not until the 1900's before it was done in mass quantities. So basically I think it is so rare it just hasn't been discovered yet. I think it will be though. 

Edited by StormingTexan
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Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

The meteorite metal that they talk about that blocks Shards, is that aluminum?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Uh, so... yes.

You're welcome

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11 minutes ago, RShara said:

Also, it's Aluminum in US, but Aluminium in EU.  Kind of like the u in a lot of words.

Just because an entire country spells it incorrectly doesn't make it a correct spelling :P.

/end pedantry

I did actually know that, I was just being silly. Interestingly it has only been a valid spelling of the word since 1993, before then the Americans were actually spelling it wrong.

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Yeah... Considering his reaction in the WoB "did I say you can only get it through soulcasting?" it's a mistake. 

What they call aluminum can't be aluminum, or the "legendary metal" would be recognizable. Same with the plates that Hoid provides to Azure. 

 

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17 minutes ago, aemetha said:

Just because an entire country spells it incorrectly doesn't make it a correct spelling :P.

/end pedantry

I did actually know that, I was just being silly. Interestingly it has only been a valid spelling of the word since 1993, before then the Americans were actually spelling it wrong.

:D That's how it's taught here so that's how we all spell and say it.  I have no idea why.

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The spelling Aluminum, actually predates Aluminium, and the original spelling was Alumium. 

Quote

It's actually quite intriguing how it came to be – first starting with Sir Humphry Davy's not being able to make a decision: Sir Humphry made a bit of a mess of naming this new element, at first spelling it alumium (this was in 1807) then changing it to aluminum, and finally settling on aluminium in 1812.

 

Edited by Calderis
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3 minutes ago, Calderis said:

The spelling Aluminum, actually predates Aluminium, and the original spelling was Alumium. 

This is true, but later scientists objected to the spelling of it because it wasn't consistent with the naming conventions of elements. Internationally the -ium spelling was adopted as the correct spelling, being recognised as the official name in 1990. In 1993 they recognised the -um spelling as an acceptable alternative. Clearly there was a three year period in which Americans were illiterate :P.

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11 minutes ago, aemetha said:

Clearly there was a three year period in which Americans were illiterate :P

Illiteracy and this country are old pals. You don't have to drag Aluminum into that discussion. 

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4 hours ago, Calderis said:

What they call aluminum can't be aluminum, or the "legendary metal" would be recognizable. Same with the plates that Hoid provides to Azure. 

 

yeah, that's part of my point. They know aluminium. if the legendary metal was aluminium, they'd have recognized it as such. if those plates had been aluminium, they''d have recognized it as such - especially since ardents are learned. it seems a real stretch to assume otherwise. that's half the discrepancy.

The other half is that if they have a legend of a metal that blocks shardblades, and they have this metal that can only be made by soulcasting, it's hard to imagine nobody would have actually tried to see if maybe the two metals were the same.

5 hours ago, aemetha said:

I looked into this the other day because I was curious too. Aluminium is common in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Now, they aren't common in our world (around 5%), but that's because of the unique composition of our solar system. There is no guarantee that the composition of meteorites in the greater Rosharan system is the same as in ours. If the meteorites there have a greater proportion of this type, then it might be quite reasonable to get it from that source.

Additionally, aside from soulcasting (which presumably only works if you know the metal you want to soulcast), the chunks of aluminium are far more easily accessed from a meteorite than from the surface of a planet because of Aluminium's reactivity with oxygen causing it to change state. And Roshar is a higher oxygen environment, so there is even more oxygen for any natural aluminium deposits to react with.

So basically, I don't think he made a mistake.

EDIT: I just realised, he does make one mistake regarding it. He spells it wrong! a l u m i n u m

good thinking that they could have more carbonaceous chondrite meteorites in the rosharan system. it would make it a bit less rare.

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Does someone have the quote from OB? I'm not sure what page it was on.

Iirc though it was described as being both stronger and lighter than steel, and that immediately made me think of titanium.

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5 hours ago, StormingTexan said:

Basically why go to the effort to make a fabrial half shard when you can just make a shield of aluminum? The simple answer is atm they do not know aluminum will block a shardblade.

My understanding of Half-shards was that they are made out of aluminum, then reinforced with a fabrial, since even after the Investiture in nullified, a Shardblade is still a really sharp sword. 

But, I haven't been able to find the WoB I remember reading, so it might just be my head-canon. Either way, that makes a lot of sense to me, since it would add to the secrecy of Half-shards. Jah Keved's artifabrians wouldn't want people knowing about the properties of aluminum, since that's what makes Half-shards special. Alethi artifabrians already have strengthening fabrials, so once they find out about aluminum, they can create Half-shards pretty easily. 

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12 minutes ago, Carbonationspren said:

My understanding of Half-shards was that they are made out of aluminum, then reinforced with a fabrial, since even after the Investiture in nullified, a Shardblade is still a really sharp sword. 

Problem with that is that Aluminum is an Investiture sink too, in addition to being inert. Meaning you can pump investiture into it and it won't do anything. So the Augmenter Fabrial would do nothing to Aluminum.

7 hours ago, king of nowhere said:

so I can't believe it never happened that a shardblade was used to hit someone wearing aluminium jewelry. Heck, with all the people szeth killed with his blade during parties, you'd think some of them had some aluminium.

Shardblades are still very sharp, and aluminum is rather thin. If you can cut something with a normal sword, a Shardblade will cut it too, magic or no magic.

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So, I don’t which WoB is correct but if it’s not aluminum then my guess would be that it’s iridium. Unlike aluminum, iridium is very rare, at least on earth, but it’s very common in asteroids and meteorites. It also has a very similar color to aluminum, silvery-white, so it kind of resembles a sheet of aluminum foil. 

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9 minutes ago, The One Who Connects said:

Shardblades are still very sharp, and aluminum is rather thin. If you can cut something with a normal sword, a Shardblade will cut it too, magic or no magic.

There's WoB's on that, Blades don't cut aluminum

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/114-an-evening-with-brandon-sanderson/#e1437

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/171-oathbringer-release-party/#e8162

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3 minutes ago, Heretic said:

So, I don’t which WoB is correct but if it’s not aluminum then my guess would be that it’s iridium. Unlike aluminum, iridium is very rare, at least on earth, but it’s very common in asteroids and meteorites. It also has a very similar color to aluminum, silvery-white, so it kind of resembles a sheet of aluminum foil. 

I think you've hit on something there. Iridium is also a lot stronger and denser than aluminum so it is possible that it could be the material used. However, unless iridium turned out to be an "Investiture sink" (thanks for the term @The One Who Connects) like Aluminum, I doubt that it would work as a Shardblade guard. It would have to have its strength augmented by using either an alloy of iridium with aluminum or through some other method.

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Just now, Canucck said:

That WoB isn't definitive in the slightest. Have the history of the subject:

On 11/8/2017 at 6:31 PM, The One Who Connects said:

Have a flow chart of the subject:


From Brandon(Oct 10, 2015):

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WayneSpren

Can Shardblades cut aluminum?"

Brandon Sanderson

"Well-um-yes, yes they can."

From Brandon(Feb 1, 2017):

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Bridge4AM: What would happen if you tried to cut aluminum with a shardblade and as a follow-up how significant is it that Nightblood has a metal sheath?

Brandon: It is significant, and a shardblade would not cut aluminum.

From Brandon(Feb 3, 2017):

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Yata:  Hi, the Community has a doubt, We have two WoB: Shardblades cut Aluminum, Shardblades can't cut it. Which one is true one?

Brandon:  Hm. Yes, I wondered last night if I'd ever answered this before. Truth is, the answer is contentious at Team Sanderson.
Brandon:  I've been pushing for one answer, but Peter (whom I trust) is pushing back. We will see what ends up in the books as canon.
Brandon:  Problem with magic like I do is sometimes you have to wait for the scientific consensus... :) Err on "no" for now

From Peter(February 6, 2017):

Quote

Peter:  Oh, I think Aluminum would stop Shardblades from magical cutting. But if it's too thin like foil, a sword...


The status of the subject is still very much up for debate, and will likely remain that way until Brandon puts Shardblade vs Aluminum into a book.


4 minutes ago, Canucck said:

This WoB implies that Aluminum stops magical cutting, nothing more. Given that you can stab Nightblood's Sheath though a person's chest, it's rather heavy duty, so I can see it being thick enough for Nightblood to not physically cut it.

In the end, we return to Peter's answer, where magical cutting is prevented b/c aluminum, and physical cutting is prevented by thickness(as it is in the real world).

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57 minutes ago, The One Who Connects said:

That WoB isn't definitive in the slightest. Have the history of the subject:


This WoB implies that Aluminum stops magical cutting, nothing more. Given that you can stab Nightblood's Sheath though a person's chest, it's rather heavy duty, so I can see it being thick enough for Nightblood to not physically cut it.

In the end, we return to Peter's answer, where magical cutting is prevented b/c aluminum, and physical cutting is prevented by thickness(as it is in the real world).

I thought that scene in OB pretty much proved a shardblade (at least Nightblood) couldn’t cut through aluminum. I agree it must be thick because it didn’t physically cut through the sheath but also didn’t magically cut through it which should be the easier of the two options. We’ve seen Nightblood cut through plenty of stuff magically and we know his sheath is aluminum so I think this as proof but maybe I’m missing something? 

Edited by StormingTexan
Stupid autocorrect
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Just now, StormingTexan said:

I agree it must be thick because it didn’t physically cut through the sheath but also didn’t magically cut through it which should be the easier of the two options. We’ve seen Nightblood cut through plenty of stuff magically and we know his sheets is aluminum so I think this as proof but maybe I’m missing something? 

I'm saying it can't magically cut through aluminum(we seem to agree here), but I'm also saying that it should be able to physically slice through a thin enough piece because that's how sharpness works(we also seem to agree here).

So I don't think you're missing something, I think we just see disagreement where there isn't any because we are bad at wording our thoughts.

3 minutes ago, StormingTexan said:

I thought that scene in OB pretty much proved a shardblade (at least Nightblood) couldn’t cut through aluminum.

Time for me to read, I guess :)

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15 minutes ago, The One Who Connects said:

I'm saying it can't magically cut through aluminum(we seem to agree here), but I'm also saying that it should be able to physically slice through a thin enough piece because that's how sharpness works(we also seem to agree here).

So I don't think you're missing something, I think we just see disagreement where there isn't any because we are bad at wording our thoughts.

Time for me to read, I guess :)

Haha ok I agree to agree. Sorry I think I read your post wrong but see you meant the WoB wasn’t definitive which I agree. Luckily we finally got some on screen enlightenment.

I’m guessing Nightbloods sheath is at least 1/4” thick aluminum which isn’t as strong as 1/4” steel but would still be really hard to cut through with a sword blow.  

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What if there's something wrong with the Soulcast Aluminum? It was suggested above that what they're Soulcasting might not actually be aluminum in the wider Cosmere sense, but another metal mistaken for it on Roshar. However, the actual Soulcasting process might be producing Physically correct aluminum, but not providing the Spiritual connection that provides the Investiture-sink (great term!) property. Hence, commonly available aluminum on Roshar would be nearly useless unless backed up by a fabrial to supply spiritual power, while naturally occurring (meteorite) aluminum comes with pre-packaged properties. (There is a WoB that Soulcasting is a spiritual change for an item, so maybe I'm totally off-base)

 

The back and forth between Sanderson and Peter is fantastic, and also indicates that we could have the correct answer today, while being totally wrong tomorrow. Or there's the extra nuance of an incorrect name for the metal local to Roshar. 

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The process of smelting Alum into Aluminum is very technical and energy intensive (if you're curious just google the Hall-Héroult process). It wasn't even discovered until 1825. There is a 0% chance that pre-industrial civilizations like the ones on Roshar would know about the Aluminum (and thus be able to soulcast it) unless they had help from a world hopper. It seems plausible that such a world hopper would likely not understand the implications of having aluminum with regards to shardblades, although that is just speculation on my part.

Edited by I'mAStickFanClub
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