SirWolfe

*Misborn Era 2 Spoilers* Theory: How Harmonium/Ettmetal works

3 posts in this topic

First, a recap of what we know about Harmonium:

-It explodes when it contacts water

-It copies the effects of whatever Allomantic ability is used nearby (Burning steel nearby would make it steelpush as well)

-Burns with "a pure whiteness" when it's duplicating Allomantic effects

-It slowly uses itself up when copying an ability

With those in mind, my theory is that the Harmonium duplicates abilities by converting its mass into raw investiture, which then aligns with whatever "flavour" of investiture is being used.

Here's why:

Brandon Sanderson did say that what it's doing is akin to the way matter can be converted into energy, and that it's really unstable because it's Spiritual nature (a very delicately held balance of Preservation and Ruin) is unstable, and will tear itself apart if given the chance (it's sort of the opposite of The Stick). When it the Spiritual identity tears itself apart, that Spiritual energy is released into the Physical realm, causing an explosion.

I believe that when ettmetal burns itself out when copying abilities, the metal is reacting with the water vapour in the air to create a slower, more controlled version of that Spiritual energy explosion. This continuous reaction produces small amounts of Spiritual energy, seen in the white light produced by it's burning. I like to think of that Spiritual energy as "unflavoured" investiture, sort of like how a stem cell is waiting to become any other cell. This "unflavoured" investiture then keys into whatever "flavour" of Allomancy is present, similar to how stem cells will typically turn into the same type of cell that is nearby. This would explain how Harmonium can copy Allomantic abilities used nearby.

Answers to possible counterarguments:

1. If ettmetal reacts to water vapour as well, why doesn't it burn itself out when allomantic abilities aren't used nearby?

My answer to this is that Harmonium won't react to such small amounts of water for the same reason that Stormlight doesn't soulcast everything around it without someone actively trying to soulcast. Soulcasting works by convincing the "soul" of a material to change it's Spiritual identity to that of another material using Stormlight (Honor's investiture) as a sort of bribe. But the "soul" will not change without a direction or idea of what it should change into, even if you have a huge amount of investiture. Similarly, Harmonium won't react with water vapour to produce "unflavoured" investiture if there isn't a flavour of investiture to key into. 

2. So why is it that throwing liquid water onto it causes it to react if water vapour won't for the reasons stated in question 1?

I think that it has to do with the nature of Harmonium's Spiritual identity. Harmonium's Identity does want to change, it has a direction it wants to go in, which is "not Harmonium". It's identity is made of two things that really, really don't want to be together, Preservation and Ruin. If water acts as a trigger for the opposing intents of Preservation and Ruin in the metal to react, then small amounts of water won't be enough to trigger the metal to change itself, but a large enough amount of water should be enough for the metal to react and change as it's identity wants it to. Again, it's similar to one of the characteristics of soulcasting, that even if you have the direction for the material to change into, you need enough Stormlight to convince the soul of the object. If we consider water as acting on Ettmetal in the same way that Stormlight acts on souls (a reason/motivation to change), then having enough water be enough for Ettmetal to change into the direction it wanted to in the first place. 

This is my first theory, so I welcome any questions and criticisms with open arms. :)

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This is brilliant! But I ran out of upvotes... have a metaphorical one!

Edited by Kingsdaughter613
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