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Zoey

Question about Feruchemical Iron

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I am confused about Iron due to it being quite inconsistant compared to all the other metals. 

How exactly is it meant to work? Behind the scenes it interferes with the Higgs Field, which would increase mass and density. This is a pretty ingenious way to think about it in my opinion. 

But in Well of Ascension it says it only changes gravity, at least according to the Terrismen beliefs, when Sazed was traveling with Marsh. Yet in Hero of Ages it says it changes density, as seen when Sazed was breaking out of prison. Alloy of Law says it changes weight but not density when Wax was destroying the mill. And the Ars Arcanum lists it as "Effective weight"

Sanderson says it is Mass and Higgs Field shenanigans. Which makes sense, and I do choose to stand by this. But the books themselves just seem to disagree with themselves throughout. 

So what exactly is it meant to do? I am getting rather confused about it. The first with the Terrismen thinking it was gravity is explainable through them just being wrong, but everything else leaves me confused.

 

Does anyone have an answer to this? As it seems I am the only one confused as I can't find anybody asking about it and these apparent discrepancies in Arcanum. 

Edited by Zoey
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The answer is that there is no answer. Or, not an official one at least. 

Spoiler

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Six

The fight in the ballroom

From the early days of the Mistborn books, I'd been planning how an Allomantic gunfight would go down. I felt it the next evolution in what has been stylistically a big part of these books.

There is a fine line to walk in a lot of these sequences. I've made something of a name for myself in the fantasy world by attempting to mix some scientific reasoning with my magic systems. At the same time, Allomancy was designed precisely with action sequences in mind. I wanted them to be powerful and cinematic—and a cinematic fight sequence is often at odds with realism. (Watch two people who really know what they're doing fight with swords sometime, then watch any fight sequence in a film. Most of the time, the film sequences stray far from what would really happen.)

So, as I said, I walk a line. Sometimes, there are things I just can't do because they violate what I've set up as the rules of the world. Other times, I design the setting and nature of the fight specifically to allow for certain types of cinematic sequences. One thing I like a lot about Wax’s abilities is the power he has to manipulate his weight. There's some realism to what he does—for example, increasing his weight doesn't make him fall more quickly, but it allows him to do some powerful things while falling. Destroying the chandeliers is an example.

At the same time, I acknowledge that the weight manipulation aspect of Feruchemy is one of its more baffling powers, scientifically. Is he changing his mass? If so, he should become more dense, which I don't actually make the case when it plays out in fights. (Otherwise, increasing his weight enough would make him impervious to bullets.) So, if it's not mass manipulation, is it gravity manipulation, like Szeth and Kaladin do? Well, again, not really—as when his weight increases, his strength and ability to uphold that weight increase as well. Beyond that, Wax can't make himself so light that he has no weight at all.

So . . . well, at this point, the ability to explain it scientifically breaks down. I do like what it does, but I have to set its boundaries and stick to them—and accept that some of what's going on is irrational. (And don't get me started on what should really be happening scientifically when Wayne speeds up time.)

Footnote: Brandon has stated that iron Feruchemy works by manipulating the Higgs field.
The Alloy of Law Annotations (March 14, 2014)

So any theory you have that can resolve the inconsistencies may very well be correct. The theory I like is that mass changes, but Wax is not impervious to bullets because the mass change doesn't affect interactions among things internal to him, which would end up including the bullet.

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1 hour ago, Zoey said:

Okay, I am confused about Iron due to it being quite inconsistant compared to all the other metals. 

How exactly is it meant to work? Behind the scenes it interferes with the Higgs Field, which would increase mass and density. This is a pretty ingenious way to think about it in my opinion. 

But in Well of Ascension it says it only changes gravity, at least according to the Terrismen beliefs, when Sazed was traveling with Marsh. Yet in Hero of Ages it says it changes density, as seen when Sazed was breaking out of prison. Alloy of Law says it changes weight but not density when Wax was destroying the mill. And the Ars Arcanum lists it as "Effective weight"

Sanderson says it is Mass and Higgs Field shenanigans. Which makes sense, and I do choose to stand by this. But the books themselves just seem to disagree with themselves throughout. 

So what exactly is it meant to do? I am getting rather confused about it. The first with the Terrismen thinking it was gravity is explainable through them just being wrong, but everything else leaves me confused.

 

Does anyone have an answer to this? As it seems I am the only one confused as I can't find anybody asking about it and these apparent discrepancies in Arcanum. 

I was asking similar questions recently and can't say that I fully understand it.  However, I do think that the WoB is the best answer.  

I actually love that each book describes it a bit differently.  All we see is characters perception of what it is.  Or writings of histories trying to explain it.   The desire to understand it all is totally something I have but I do enjoy the fact that not all characters see it for what it is.  Having sperate characters describe how they perceive it to work is a ton of fun.  

 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, I tend to see it moreso as them not fully understanding it themselves. Thus a lot of mistakes go on. 

 

Wax, iirc, does not fully have an understanding of science and the like, he is moreso just skilled gunman and knowledgeble in criminology, its been a while. So it is possible he just, in universe, assumed resistance to penetration had to do with density, I know Brandon thought this too in 2014, but it seems that he has things concerning it planned out more nowadays. 

Edited by Zoey
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6 hours ago, Zoey said:

Wax, iirc, does not fully have an understanding of science and the like, he is moreso just skilled gunman and knowledgeble in criminology,

Waxillium did display a full understanding of Newtonian mechanics when he was talking to Khrissalla.

6 hours ago, Zoey said:

its been a while. So it is possible he just, in universe, assumed resistance to penetration had to do with density, I know Brandon thought this too in 2014, but it seems that he has things concerning it planned out more nowadays. 

It does change density and gravity and weight internally and externally in different ways. When they get ultraheavy their bones do not splinter. Nor is that limited to iron feruchemy. When you use chromium, where does the carbon dioxide you need to exhale go? If you use bendalloy, when do you go to the toilet? When you charge or when you tap?

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3 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Waxillium did display a full understanding of Newtonian mechanics when he was talking to Khrissalla.

It does change density and gravity and weight internally and externally in different ways. When they get ultraheavy their bones do not splinter.

This is the crux of it all, I think.  I think it's easier to think of it as a skin-deep field effect: The person's body is not literally made heavier (requiring stronger bones etc to support it, pump the super-heavy blood, etc), rather the way the person's body Interacts with the Physical Realm around it is tweaked.  It's the same issue with comic book superspeed and the age-old question of how a speedster can run faster than bullets and not be "shot" by every bug they hit:  Superman is invulnerable, but the Flash needs physics to take a back-seat to The Speed Force handwave.  

3 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Nor is that limited to iron feruchemy. When you use chromium, where does the carbon dioxide you need to exhale go? If you use bendalloy, when do you go to the toilet? When you charge or when you tap?

I suspect the molecules are literally removed and "encoded" as Investiture similar to the metal Burn process. On waste it more depends on if it's storing post-digestion "Calories" or pre-digestion Food. Based only on the fact implication that it's possible but takes a different Metalmind to store Waste, at least.

 

Quote

 

angwilwileth

Since there's a Feruchemical metal that stores calories, is there one that stores the need to eliminate waste?

Brandon Sanderson

Not yet.

/r/books AMA 2015 (July 30, 2015)

 

 

 

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I have to wonder if its kind of like surge of gravitation, where somehow the magic is tricking the person's body into thinking gravity is in a different strength and direction than it really is. Its not creating a gravitational pull in a different direction, but actually altering the way normal gravity works. Somehow, feruchemical iron isn't actually changing the person's mass, but seems to be changing how their mass works. Though frankly, that gives the physicist part of my brain a bit of a headache, but it might be one of the best explanations.

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I kinda want to just go with the explanation in the WoB about Higgs Field interference. It does make the most sense to me. Storing the mass formed by interactions with the Field into the metal as energy/Investiture, and being able to take that in again and add the mass back, is what makes the most sense to me. It makes a degree of sense in terms of the physics of it, and also works with how Feruchemy functions. I do hope that we do get more on this, and just get a more consistent explanation of Iron Feruchemy in general. 

Hope we can get that in Wax and Wayne 4. But the Higgs stuff would likely only get explained in Era 3 considering the technological levels of Era 2 not really being enough to become aware of such quantum concepts and occurrences. But do hope that it, W&W4, can at least give a more consistent and solid statement of how it works on the Macro scale. 

 

 

9 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Waxillium did display a full understanding of Newtonian mechanics when he was talking to Khrissalla.

It does change density and gravity and weight internally and externally in different ways. When they get ultraheavy their bones do not splinter. Nor is that limited to iron feruchemy. When you use chromium, where does the carbon dioxide you need to exhale go? If you use bendalloy, when do you go to the toilet? When you charge or when you tap?

Ah, yeah, I forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me. 

 

 

Quote

 

clyguy

If Wax were to go to Roshar, and--he's a Skimmer, right? So he can change his weight--if he got Lashed in a different direction if he Stored his weight would that nullify some of the Lashing?

Brandon Sanderson

Okay, you're going to make me think through this. *laughter* So Wax actually changes mass. And the Lashing only affects gravitational pull. So the answer is no because different things with different masses fall at the same speed.

 

 

(Same Speed minus Wind Resistance and, in Cosmere's case, the changes in mass leading to velocity changes to compensate for Conservation of Energy and Momentum)

This and this:

 

Quote

 

Brandon Sanderson

Well The Way of Kings' magic systems are based on the fundamental forces. That was the original idea and the extrapolation from them. I'm fascinated by quantum mechanics and I have worked them into the way that-- Remember in my worlds, my books, the magics are a new branch of physics, in these worlds. And so they interact with our normal physics, it's not like they are ignoring them, so they obey the laws of thermodynamics, even when they appear to be breaking them, and they interact with quantum and all the stuff. It's just very natural that they are going to, to me if that makes sense? It would be weird if they didn't interact with them.

- Firelight Chicago Signing (Feb 20. 2015)


 

 

and the aforementioned statement of the Higgs Field interactions,

Quote

Seonid

There's a researcher who talks to Wax, asking him about whether he's changing his mass of whether he's changing whether the planet perceives him-- affecting his gravity.

Brandon Sanderson

Right. It's more a re-- Defining something I didn't pin down strongly enough. I wouldn't call it a retcon because it's something that nobody really did until Wax, really, in the series. The only one really capable of doing that in the original trilogy would have been the Lord Ruler, maybe some of the Inquisitors, but we don't have viewpoints from them. So I wouldn't call it a retcon I would just say it’s something that didn't come up in the first series that now I have to make sure is clear.

Seonid

So is it Higgs field stuff going on?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Mmhmm.

Seonid

My idea was right.

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

-Bands of Mourning Release Party - January 25th, 2016, BUY Bookstore

 

 

Make me feel that it is indeed just Higgs Field interactions misunderstood by the people. It would explain a lot of the apparent inconsistences, leading to a consistent answer of what is going on in the background of all of this. Am I justified in thinking this? It seems reasonable to me. 

 

*Sorry for the Bold there, it is being extremely annoying and tedious, and I can't unbold it. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Zoey said:

I kinda want to just go with the explanation in the WoB about Higgs Field interference. It does make the most sense to me. Storing the mass formed by interactions with the Field into the metal as energy/Investiture, and being able to take that in again and add the mass back, is what makes the most sense to me. It makes a degree of sense in terms of the physics of it, and also works with how Feruchemy functions. I do hope that we do get more on this, and just get a more consistent explanation of Iron Feruchemy in general.

It seems to me that the question of the actual physical mechanism and the queston of how internal and external effects are distinguished are independent.

And you do need this difference. It is not just the bones not splintering. The mass of the atoms in your body makes a difference. Heavy water does have measurably different chemical and physical properties apart from its density. It is less acidic at standard conditions for example. In fact heavy water is poisonous:
Symptoms of heavy water poisoning

And this issue is not limited to feruchemical iron. How do you breathe when using steel? How come you do not poison yourself with the carbon dioxide you exhale? How do you manage not to cook yourself? Your body's waste heat has to go somewhere. It looks to me like feruchemy involves some overlap of alternate realities. Indeed it seems to have an underlying component not too dissimilar to Forgery.

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