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Oathbringer release party ()
#53 Copy

Questioner

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

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

Questioner

In the Shallan flashbacks, she has the pendant.

Brandon Sanderson

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

Shardcast Interview ()
#54 Copy

Argent

It seems there is a special interaction between silver and investiture, in at least certain places in the Cosmere. We've seen how silver interacts with aethers, and we've seen over on Threnody. So that makes silver the second really really special metal to interact with investiture. Is the plan now to have aluminum block investiture, and silver destroy investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that's the way I'm going with it. To make a distinction between them, that's where we're going.

Argent

But silver is still non-allomantic. No silvereyes.

Brandon Sanderson

No, non-allomantic, yup. No silvereyes. This is my nod towards silvereye-ness, and yeah, there we go.

Argent

So would [silver] be effective against spren, just like [anti-Investiture]?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, you'll have to find out. RAFO!

Footnote: Argent tried. He also horribly mangled his last question, but it got RAFO'd, so that doesn't matter...
Calamity Austin signing ()
#56 Copy

Questioner

The guards that are used on the Shardblades, that people are able to work with them safely, are those made of aluminum?

Brandon Sanderson

[...] This is an excellent question that is well asked, and people are thinking along the right lines. I haven't answered 100%, but people are thinking the right way.

JordanCon 2021 ()
#57 Copy

Pagerunner

The specific word "ralkalest," it appears on multiple worlds. Why did you use that instead of just saying "aluminum"?

Brandon Sanderson

This is mostly us just being cheeky. I like fantasy names for star metal, and I came up with ralkalest because... I go back and forth sometimes about how much I just want to call something what it is in translation, and how much I want to call... In this case, I decided ralkalest sounds cool, it evokes the feeling of the people in world viewing this metal, where they have this view of it as this mythical, magical sort of thing. And simply calling it "aluminum" doesn't convey that in the same way, the mythology associated with it. So I use both, but it's like there's two different languages, and when I'm using "ralkalest," it's more evoking their view of this metal.

Pagerunner

On Sel, Shai says one word, and Raboniel says another word, neither of them are saying aluminum? Neither of them are saying some other word that doesn't exist in English?

Brandon Sanderson

Right, they are both saying, ralkalest would be a transliteration of the actual word in world.

Pagerunner

But which language, which transliteration?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, which language does ralkalest come from? I think ralkalest is probably original Yolish, but I haven't actually sat down and written that down. But that's what I would say now, that we're looking for kind of a mythological level. And a lot of times if you're gonna get a mythological term that's gonna transfer across worlds, it's gonna go back to what it was called on Yolen, right? Some of the words from Yolen are kind of like the way that we use Old English, or even... Latin's weird in English, so it's not really Latin. Latin and Greek have both been incorporated into scientific terms for things. But ancient terms, maybe more like Hebrew. Sometimes there's just some words that feel mythological. Some Yolish terms, because of that, kind of flow through the cosmere.

r/books AMA 2022 ()
#59 Copy

Longshot_97

This question concerns Mistborn Era 2. Aluminum at this time is supremely rare and quite expensive, and Wax is seen lamenting his profound lack of aluminum guns and bullets fairly often. However, couldn't he fashion a "Poor Man's Aluminum" of sorts by coating his guns (and potentially bullets) in a thin veneer of iron, then Feruchemically charging it? You've noted that metalminds can still be pushed, but much less than un-Invested metal. This could help him, in the absence of aluminum. So, is there a reason he has not done that?

Brandon Sanderson

The layer you would get by just that little coat would be so small that it'd have very little effect. Now, there's a pretty good argument for putting it into bullets. The problem there is: are the alloys that make good bullets going to work very well? Now, granted, aluminum doesn’t make for great bullets either. But any aluminum alloy kind of gets the property of aluminum. Where any iron alloy does not necessarily get the property of being able to allomantically or feruchemically interact with it in the right way. Can you get there? It's an excellent question that I perhaps should explore. I like this idea. But it's harder than you make it out to be. It is a good idea, though; it's a pretty good idea.

Skyward Atlanta signing ()
#60 Copy

Questioner

If someone had a Hemalurgic spike and they burned aluminum, would the negation of-- am I going to get RAFO'd?

Brandon Sanderson

You're asking if it would destroy the Hemalurgic power? Burning aluminum at that point would not destroy the Hemalurgic power. It would pull the Investiture through whatever you're doing. It would blank your power, but it wouldn't destroy you being an Allomancer with the spike...

I actually considered this in building it and that would be too easy a way to remove Inquisitors, particularly if there were dissension between them.

Legion Release Party ()
#61 Copy

Jozomby

I’m wondering about the idea that you can block emotional Allomancy with an aluminum lined hat.

Brandon Sanderson

Yup.

Jozomby

Okay.  So I’m wondering how much aluminum is required.  So like, an aluminum colander, versus an aluminum headband, versus…

Brandon Sanderson

Right.  Alright.  So, I’ll be honest with you.  The idea of a tinfoil hat was so intriguing to me, basically, that I made sure this was part of the magic system.  I say it has to be tinfoil, at least. Thicker is probably better, the way these things work. I’ll try not to do spoilers.  When Hoid lets somebody use aluminum to block signals, he was going with something that you would be able to bend a little bit by pulling on it, but wouldn’t be able to fold it down.  I’d put a bare minimum, if you want to be extra sure, on that, but lining your hat with tinfoil is viable. Particularly in the later eras of Mistborn, when some of the powers are decreasing.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#66 Copy

Questioner

Is silver in Shadows for Silence similar in any way to aluminum in the rest of the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

*hesitantly* Yes, but not really. Silver is like silver, and aluminum is like aluminum.

Questioner

Does aluminum have any specific use in Shadows for Silence?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, you could definitely find a use for it.

The Hero of Ages Annotations ()
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Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Sixty - Part One

Silver, the Useless Metal

I've annotated about this before, but I figured I'd mention it again. As you probably know, in book one, tin was originally silver. I swapped it out for various reasons.

However, that left silver having no Allomantic powers. That feels strange to a lot of people because of how common and useful it is in our modern culture. Such an obvious metal doing nothing seems wrong to readers.

I toyed with using it in place of aluminum at the end of book one, but I realized that wouldn't work. It was too common, so if it had any Allomantic powers, people would know about them for certain. Only a metal that was very hard to find—like aluminum—would be believable as a new metal that most people hadn't heard of.

So silver is Allomantically inert. Just one of the quirks of the magic system.

Words of Radiance Philadelphia signing ()
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Kurkistan

What would happen if you shot a thug with an aluminum bullet or stabbed him with an aluminum knife?

Brandon Sanderson

Ah, that's a good question. The wound would not be able to heal around the aluminum, but once the aluminum came out and was gone from the system, they would be okay.

Kurkistan

Wait, is that a Bloodmaker, not a Thug?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, you're talking about Thugs?

It would work similarly, but it really wouldn't have a huge effect on them.

Kurkistan

Alright, because Peter was implying that there was some weird aluminum interaction with Thugs.

Brandon Sanderson

What was he thinking of...?

There is some weird interaction but...

Kurkistan

In the wedding scene, Wax thinks they would have aluminum bullets to deal with Thugs, and I was like, "Oh, that's a typo." And Peter was like, "Oh no it's not..."

Brandon Sanderson

No, no. That would just be-- it's like I said: healing it until the bullet is gone, it's just the same as Bloodmakers.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
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Questioner

What's the deal with silver? Why does it not fit cleanly into the Allomantic metals, why is aluminum a special one and not silver. Why is it silver powder and not aluminum powder on Threnody? These kinds of questions.

Brandon Sanderson

Do you want the in-world answer... or the writerly answer?

Questioner

Well really I want the in-world answer.

Brandon Sanderson

...The in-world answer is that people are not sure yet.

Questioner

Well, that's not the in-world answer. That's the in world answer from Khriss, right? What about the in-world answer from--

Brandon Sanderson

That's the in-world answer--they're not sure yet...

The writerly answer is that we started with silver in place of tin. And by the time I swapped it out, aluminum was already its thing. If I had to do it over again, I might make silver aluminum, but I wanted what aluminum does to be rare, and silver isn't. So I might not have. I love what aluminum does because it's super-rare pre-industrial, but you hit industrial and it's everywhere.

So it allowed me to do, when we get to modern era, to have real checks on Allomancy as Allomancy gets more powerful.

Words of Radiance Seattle signing ()
#74 Copy

Questioner

In Allomancy, aluminum won't be able to be pushed or pulled, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Right.

Questioner

So if you put a piece of steel like a gun barrel, and then you surround it with aluminum, can you still push the gun barrel?

Brandon Sanderson

The aluminum will add some interference, it's gonna depend on how thick the aluminum is. It's probably unfeasible. That is a viable concept, I don't think it's feasible on a gun barrel.

Calamity release party ()
#75 Copy

Questioner

Would copper or, like, an aluminum hat influence subliminal messaging and that kind of thing?

Brandon Sanderson

*laughs* Only if they are working through cosmere magics. Not if they are just normal... which is of debatable effectiveness anyway.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#76 Copy

Questioner

It is said by a spren, Syl, that everything has a spren. Does aluminum have a spren? 

Brandon Sanderson

Does aluminum have a spren? This is a good question for philosophers in world. I would say the majority of them would say yes, its just a very isolated and unresponsive spren. There are some who would say no, it is the dead material, that has no spren, but others would argue that a dead material with no spren would just disintegrate to death, so aluminum is kind of a strange duck. 

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#78 Copy

ccstat

Can a Seeker, standing outside a Coppercloud, that is between them and another Allomancer, can he sense the person standing on the other side of the Coppercloud?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but he might get some interference.

Ben McSweeney

Would you sense the cloud itself, like "Hey, there's a cloud between me and what I'm looking at"?

Brandon Sanderson

If you know what you're doing, you might be able to say something is interfering, but you wouldn't be able to determine what. There are multiple things that could cause that, for instance-- Most of them are only-- That they would be able to-- Yeah, there are multiple things that could cause that. Like, for instance--

Ben McSweeney

Big buildings?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, aluminum.