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How does Wax "whirl"? (nitpicky physics)


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Wild, every sense straining, he dropped a bullet casing and Pushed, instantly popping up about ten feet. Scanning, he whirled, the motion flaring his mistcoat tassels.

SoS, Chapter 6

Am I missing something, or should it be impossible for him to spin around in that situation? There's nothing for him to push off of, and if he were to Push he'd go flying backwards instead of spinning.

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Zane could literally do full body rotations back into a vertical stance with just a single line, though with some difficulty. Wax is possibly the best coinshot in Elendel right now.

Besides, people and the occasional cat flip in midair all the time. I believe it's even possible to do in space if you twist properly. I could at least rotate in water myself underwater pretty well without using my arms or legs.

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I was wondering about this line too, and I too was reminded that Zane can do some pretty nifty tricks with Steelpushes. Given that Brandon has implied (if not outright said) that Wax is a steel savant, I wouldn't be surprised if he has figured out how to manipulate his center of mass (presumably by moving his limbs, leaning and twisting himself) to produce an effect like this. I don't know enough physics to see how exactly it would work though. 

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So you've found examples of a pure Steelpusher who can rotate, which is dandy, but for the sake of argument it's worth noting that Wax can alter his mass.  We know that you can store enough mass to safely fall from any height, so he may be able to just move his arms like a slow-motion hummingbird, even if he can't actually manage to fly without steelpushing. nbsp;

Depending on exactly how that works, he could be playing some strange games with angular momentum as well.  I'm not sure how momentum (linear or angular) plays with Ironminds.  Does he instantly slow down if he adds weight to himself, or is momentum conserved?

 

1.  It's not clear whether the mass increase is proportionately distributed throughout the feruchemist.

 

If Wax has a choice, or even if he has no choice but it's not purely proportional, then it's relatively easy.  He just shifts his mass around the right way as he moves his arms and legs and ultimately he will pick up the correct angular momentum.

Edit to add:  waitaminute, the wiki says "This change does not affect things that the Feruchemist wears".  That makes it clear:  the mass increase is not proportional to the mass impacting Wax to begin with, even if it is proportional within his body.  He could, for instance, hold some weights out at arm's length.  If he reduces his mass, the is effectively push his mass further out -- potentially putting his center of mass well outside of his own body.

 

2.  Is angular momentum conserved through weight gain?

 

Imagine a figure skater.  She is spinning on the ice.  She pulls her arms in and now she spins faster -- this is because angular momentum was conserved, and by pulling her arms in she changed her Moment of Inertia.  Moment of Inertia depends on the shape (which she changed by pulling in her arms) and the mass.

 

- If Wax conserves angular momentum, he may be able to adjust his mass like a figure skater.  Here I'm imagining him putting his arms out, twisting them, then pulling his arms in, twisting back, and combining that with mass changes.

 

- If Wax doesn't conserve angular momentum, then I'm going to guess angular velocity is conserved.  In that case, he can still do something akin to a bird flapping his wings, by twisting his arms in the opposite direction he wants to move while at low mass (the "down-flap"), then twisting his arms back at high mass (the "up-flap").  It's kind of what a swimmer tries to do with underwater strokes, where they look for high fluid resistance when moving their arms one way, and low fluid resistance in the other.  Here I'm imagining people doing those exercises where they keep their arms up at shoulder height and twist left and right, no pulling in or pushing out involved.

Edited by Your.Master
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It's implied he's not flying in this scene, but Pushing to stand still at ten feet. I read it as if he just spun in place, simple as that.

 

It depends on your understanding of Pushing, I guess. I've always read it as applying force on things, as in pushing the ground with greater strength to propel yourself upwards—aka jump. The magic would lie in doing it without touching the object you're Pushing, almost as if pushing by proxy (limited by range, of course). We're constantly pushing the ground to stand on our feet, yet we don't go sailing through the air due it.

 

Same thing would happen when a coinshot stands on the air, he uses the appropriate Pushing intensity and stays still. For all intents and purposes, as long the coinshot keeps his center of mass in place, he's standing on the ground. Spinning depends only on his balance. His Feruchemy might help him to keep his balance; speaking from my own experience I suppose my low weight compensates for my inflexibility, allowing me to spin in place, jump to my feet from a lying position and perform dumb antics like that.

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I don't know how much you can do with balance though.Steelpushes push directly from the Allomancer's center of mass, so if you are perfectly balanced with a Push, and you offset your center of mass, you could go flying at an angle.

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I figured that he was only ten feet up, so nowhere near the pinnacle of a push. So there are probably little bits of metal around him in objects or being carried by people in the crowd. In my view he used tiny pushes in those to turn himself around, but is savant enough that he didn't have to think about it (and was focused on other things) so those little pushes weren't mentioned in the narrative.

Edit: I thought the concern was that he only had one thing to push against, but I guess it is also problematic to turn by pushing on lots of things if the force has to be directed at your center of mass. I'm not fully sure now.

Edited by ccstat
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It is entirely possible I am not smart enough for this conversation but just like a diver does flips and twist his body as he is falling to a pool couldn't Wax whirl as he pushes up. Going up from a steel push is just the opposite of a diver falling down right? I guess a better example would be an NBA player spinning in the air when he dunks a ball. 

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The crux comes from, the phrasing sorta implies that he jumps straight up, then starts whirling, which is like a diver doing one flip and then halfway through reversing direction. If you accept that the phrasing was loose, then yes, it's literally exactly like a player spinning as he dunks.

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