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The physics of soulcasting


Oltux72

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Let the brain hurt begin. How do you actually use your soulcaster and what are the consequences?

Let's begin with what we know:

  • mass is conserved (Adolin's observations as a wall is created from air)
  • either heat or temperature is usually conserved (Jasnah soulcasting Shallan's blood into unpoisoned blood)

The second point may be unobvious. So let's start with an obvious observation. Shallan survived the treatment. That means that her blood cannot have been heated or cooled by a lot. Unfortunately blood with poison and blood without poison have virtually identical physical properties, including heat capacity. Other transformations including drastically air into stone or stone into meat do not preserve heat capacity. It takes about five times as much energy to warm meat than it takes to warm stone. So either the meat would come out at liquid nitrogen temperatures or heat is not preserved. Now either a part of the mass is turned into heat or energy is created from nothing. As matter has fantastic amounts of energy nobody would notice or even be able to measure with Rosharan equipment the losses or gains needed for that.
I think we may tentatively conclude that anything you soulcast ends up at the temperature of the stuff you created it from. (Excluding the essence of fire)

There is also the issue of entropy. I guess it really has to go out of the window. You can reduce entropy by soulcasting. You can mix two substances, divide the result and soulcast both halves back into pure substances. Entropy is reduced.

Now the elephant in the room, the essence of fire. Let's again begin with the obvious observation. Jasnah did not level a city block when she soulcast a would-be robber into fire. That is remarkable when you consider what should happen if you turn the mass of a human body into hot gas of the same mass and have it occupy the same volume. However, the temperature of the gas is of minor importance here. Soulcasting any large object into air or smoke, particularly in an underground location should already have been like a bomb going of.
At that point I am stymied. Possibly the effects of the transformation actually take some time and the gas is released in the course of time? And where is the ash you should expect if you incinerate a human body?

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I'm tempted to argue that it's volume-perserving rather than mass conserving- see the tradition of Soulcasting the corpses of important people into metal statues of themselves, which strikes me as something that shouldn't work, since an equal mass of metal would be smaller than a human body. But that doesn't really work, because of the Wall creation scene and the way Jasnah needed to know that rock's mass before she could turn it to smoke. 

I don't see the lack of ash from the robber's body as huge issue, though- surely everything that would've been there was converted into... whatever the essence of fire actually is; be it energy or hot gas or some magical facsimile of fire.

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Just now, Gilphon said:

I'm tempted to argue that it's volume-perserving rather than mass conserving- see the tradition of Soulcasting the corpses of important people into metal statues of themselves, which strikes me as something that shouldn't work, since an equal mass of metal would be smaller than a human body. But that doesn't really work, because of the Wall creation scene and the way Jasnah needed to know that rock's mass before she could turn it to smoke.

Either

  • you can choose not to preserve mass
  • the statues are hollow
  • the transformation uses ambient air as "filler material"
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Actually we've got a WOB that's it's mass-preserving. I asked exactly that question ^_^

He also adressed your point regarding the explosions that should exist, but don't happen like physics tell us.

Quote

Sorana (paraphrased)

Is Soulcasting volume- or mass-preserving?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

It's mass-preserving, but there are some strange things going on and that's why we don't get as much explosions as we should. You can see a bit of what is going on when Jasnah Soulcasts air, there are some little reactions, but not as strong as you ought to get.

 

Edited by Sorana
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3 hours ago, Sorana said:

Actually we've got a WOB that's it's mass-preserving. I asked exactly that question ^_^

He also adressed your point regarding the explosions that should exist, but don't happen like physics tell us.

 

There's also this one that qualifies it a bit. 

 

Quote

 

ReaderAt2046

Is Soulcasting mass-conservative (Soulcast a 1kg goblet, you get 1 kg of blood)?

Brandon Sanderson

In most circumstances, yes.

17th Shard Forum Q&A (Sept. 26, 2012)

 

 

I think it depends more on the Intent with the Final Product.  We have the WOB's that in most instances it is indeed Mass- conservative, but we also have several examples of light objects being Soulcast into Metals or Stone without any (obvious) loss of mass.  And at the end of the day, scientific laws arent much involved in the process, it's a realmic mechanism that's all about re-writing the Identity/Sense of Self of the target object .  I strongly suspect that soulcasting defaults to mass-conservative, especially in most common uses where the Caster is only interested in the material (Stone-to-Food, etc).  But when the Caster is actively interested in preserving the  original Shape of the original object, be that a corpse becoming a statue or just a crafted object that they want to become Metal, they seem able to do so without being limited by rigid Mass Conservation, so long as that Intent is present in the working.   For what it's worth, I also suspect  that this would be that sort of thing that a Radiant Soulcaster has a lot more flexibility to exploit, compared to a Fabrial-user, so we may get more into the weeds of its functionality eventually (fingers crossed).  

 

 

 
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On 10/1/2019 at 3:12 PM, Quantus said:

I think it depends more on the Intent with the Final Product.  We have the WOB's that in most instances it is indeed Mass- conservative, but we also have several examples of light objects being Soulcast into Metals or Stone without any (obvious) loss of mass.

That is true. The observed result is not uniform.

On 10/1/2019 at 3:12 PM, Quantus said:

 And at the end of the day, scientific laws arent much involved in the process, it's a realmic mechanism that's all about re-writing the Identity/Sense of Self of the target object

Nevertheless the result is a physical object with measurable properties. Simplest example is temperature. So what determines the result of a measurement right after soulcasting? The Intent of the soulcaster? Or is it random? Or would it be result of a physical law, like temperature stays constant? Even if the soulcaster knew about it we have problems like the top a stick exposed to the sun being warmer than the bottom in contact with the ground. How much? Unknown. And if the stick were made of metal, the temperature difference were less. So what will it be right after soulcasting?

This totally breaks down if we go to properties no native Rosharan knows about. If you turn a stick into a stone and try dating the stone by cosmogenic isotopes, what will be the result? The age of the stick, zero, or a typical age of rocks in the area? Or you turn a rock into wood and date it by radiocarbon, what will be the result? There can be no determination by intent if nobody knew what radiocarbon is or that it exists. The original soulcaster can be long dead by that time you measure.

On 10/1/2019 at 3:12 PM, Quantus said:

I strongly suspect that soulcasting defaults to mass-conservative, especially in most common uses where the Caster is only interested in the material (Stone-to-Food, etc).  But when the Caster is actively interested in preserving the  original Shape of the original object, be that a corpse becoming a statue or just a crafted object that they want to become Metal, they seem able to do so without being limited by rigid Mass Conservation, so long as that Intent is present in the working.   For what it's worth, I also suspect  that this would be that sort of thing that a Radiant Soulcaster has a lot more flexibility to exploit, compared to a Fabrial-user, so we may get more into the weeds of its functionality eventually (fingers crossed). 

So like the Surges of Gravitation, Elsecalling or Adhesion can do slightly different things, soulcasting also has at least two modes?

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28 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

That is true. The observed result is not uniform.

Nevertheless the result is a physical object with measurable properties. Simplest example is temperature. So what determines the result of a measurement right after soulcasting? The Intent of the soulcaster? Or is it random? Or would it be result of a physical law, like temperature stays constant? Even if the soulcaster knew about it we have problems like the top a stick exposed to the sun being warmer than the bottom in contact with the ground. How much? Unknown. And if the stick were made of metal, the temperature difference were less. So what will it be right after soulcasting?

This totally breaks down if we go to properties no native Rosharan knows about. If you turn a stick into a stone and try dating the stone by cosmogenic isotopes, what will be the result? The age of the stick, zero, or a typical age of rocks in the area? Or you turn a rock into wood and date it by radiocarbon, what will be the result? There can be no determination by intent if nobody knew what radiocarbon is or that it exists. The original soulcaster can be long dead by that time you measure.

So like the Surges of Gravitation, Elsecalling or Adhesion can do slightly different things, soulcasting also has at least two modes?

I wouldnt call it two modes, at least not the same way Gravitation is split into distinct Lashings.  I think it is more that Soulcasting is kind of like a mix of AonDor and Awakening in that it has a whole lot of Default Variables for what it can do,  like AonDor it can be modified and like Awakening that modification can be simply through a specific Intent at the time of casting, which can be as simple or as complex as the casting is capable of.  So at it's most basic Soulcasting would transform one basic Essence into another of equal Mass, but it can be modified to do all kinds of more specific things if the caster Knows enough. 

That being said, I also suspect that a Soulcasting which increases the total mass of the target is going to require more Stormlight to achieve the transformation than otherwise needed, on the logic that the Cosmere still operates on physics generally (realmics notwithstanding) and Investiture is typically the mechanism to balance the equations.  

Edited by Quantus
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