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Firefight Chicago signing ()
#1 Copy

Kurkistan

Is there- have you come up with a Realmatic explanation for why light isn't affected by time bubbles besides handwavium "please don't burn people with microwaves"?

Brandon Sanderson

Peter's got one for us. 'Cause we were going to do redshift: like the actual original writing for it had redshifts; Peter's like "Dude, you will microwave everybody" I'm like "Oh man". So the handwavium of that: there is a real- there is an actual explanation, but it...

*they move to outside the store*

What's the middle of this question?

Kurkistan

Middle of the question was you were thinking about explaining the Realmatics behind light for time bubbles.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh right, right right right right. I can't because it spoils future books; like that's spoiler for Mistborn... 10?

Kurkistan/Argent

*laughter*

Brandon Sanderson

So... if you count the four Alloys, so really gotta stay away from stuff like that.

Kurkistan/Argent

That's fair/fine.

Shadows of Self San Jose signing ()
#2 Copy

Questioner

So, Metalminds: if you store weight, how does that work, do you decrease your mass or...?

Brandon Sanderson

So, storing weight actually plays with your mass, because if you look at how we do the physics of it… This one is really screwy, because we are changing mass and playing with it. You watch, like with Wax decreases his weight while he's in motion he'll speed up, and if he increases it, he'll slow down. The conservation of momentum and things like that, but we'll doing really weird stuff. It's like, how can you store your mass… Well, in the magic system it works, but it’s one of the weirdest things we do. *pauses to sign book* We kind of play loose and free with the physics sometimes. Like the example that I often use is Wayne doing a speed bubble, the light that is trapped in the speed bubble...like if he turns on a flashlight would actually radiate because of the redshift, and you could just kill everybody by flashing that. So, we make the speed bubbles not cause a redshift for that reason. We kind of work with what is good storytelling first, and then work the physics around it, but we have to put in all these little breaks and things like that in there regularity in order to actually have the story.

Ad Astra 2017 ()
#3 Copy

Questioner

I was wondering what made you so interested in the super rules-based magic system. Because you're probably one of the best at that, and in every different universe you manage to create a complete unique set of rules-based magic and they're all completely unique.

Brandon Sanderson

So there's a panel on magic tomorrow, so I hope I don't repeat myself too much. But the whole rule-based magic thing came about mostly because I was looking for holes in the market, right? Like, things people weren't doing that I wish they were doing. I often say to new writers, "Find the books that nobody's writing, that you want to read, and try to write those." That sounds-- I mean, that's just very vague. I don't know how useful that is, but that's kind of what I was doing.

But at the same time I like-- there are lots of soft magic systems I like. Uprooted which came out a couple years ago. It's a really great book with a very soft magic system. So it's not like I feel like magic has to be done this way. But I found something I was good at, that I didn't think people were doing enough of, that I felt like people would want to read, and so that kind of became my thing even before I published. Like when I was writing my books only for my fri-- I wrote thirteen before I sold one, if you guys know about that-- And so when I was writing those books it was, "What weird setting is Brandon going to do?" Because fantasy through the 80s and 90s-- I mean, there's lots of great writers. I love them. But I felt like they were really safe with their settings, and they didn't-- they explored other directions really well. But it-- we had a lot of these kind of faux-Medieval, elemental-base magic systems, and cultures that were very "England, but not England." And I'm like, "Well, fantasy should be the most imaginative genre. Where can we push it? Where-- what different things can we do?" And so I tried that during those years. The magic systems kind of grew out of that. Like, "What are people not doing?"

I will say there are some people who have done it even in the past. Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books. I've really liked those. Those kind of have-- it's not scientific, but it's rule-based, which is kind of-- are two different things. Being consistent is one thing, and then trying-- like I try to play off of physics and make it feel like it's playing off of physics when it's really not, because I'm a fantasy writer, right? Like.--

Questioner

In Mistborn it's pretty physics.

Brandon Sanderson

Pretty physics-- But even in Mistborn, right like if you-- the time bubbles-- speed bubbles. Like I have to fudge some things. Like I spoke with my assistants, like, "Alright, what would happen if we build these?" And we're like, "Well first thing would happen is that it would change the wavelengths of light and irradiate people." You know, like this sort of thing. We're like-- we just have to make a rule that it doesn't irradiate people. You can't just take a flashlight and melt people. Yes, you just have to come up with some-- And so for me, a lot of the big difference, I say, between a fantasy writer and a science fiction writer is, the science fiction writer is forward-- each step trying to be plausible-- and the fantasy writer a lot of times drafts it backward. "Here's a cool effect. Can I explain this in a way that makes it feel like it's real and logical?" But I'm working backward from the fact, not forward from what's happening here.

Boskone 54 ()
#4 Copy

Questioner

Let’s say that the fires of industry keep progressing in Middle Earth, and someone builds a spaceship, they get in it and go up. What do you think happens?

Brandon Sanderson

In Middle Earth? I think it is heavily implied by the time that happens that Middle Earth has changed to a place where there is no magic, so I think it works just fine.

Questioner

[Follow-up on if Middle Earth is in the same universe as the cosmere]

Brandon Sanderson

You’re not talking to a Tolkein scholar here.

[...]

Yes, the cosmere takes place in a place where there is another branch of physics that is investiture, and that is the big change.

Questioner

Do you ever run into problems with that, does it break physics?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, yeah. If you look too deep in a fantasy book we are breaking the laws of thermodynamics and we are breaking causality. Those are the two big ones. And those are very important things to be… very dangerous things to be breaking. And you could probably write a fantasy novel that didn’t break those two things. Maybe? I don’t know. The way I avoid breaking laws of thermodynamics is by saying, we’ve got investiture that things can transfer into as well. We’ve got matter, energy, and investiture, I’ve added something to the tripod and therefore it looks like I’m just bending the laws of thermodynamics.

When you actually get down into the nitty-gritty, it starts to break down. It just has to. Causality is the big one. Once you have people teleporting and things like this, run the train experiment. I mean, you just have to say “It’s magic” at some point in a fantasy book. For most of them. I think you could do it, but in mine, with a  grand scale magic system I want to do, we just have to say, “at that point it’s magic.” And this is how I think a fantasy writer differs from a science fiction writer.

A SF writer takes today and extrapolates forward. I take what is interesting and extrapolate backward. Usually. For instance speed bubbles. “I want to have speed bubbles. This is how they work. Peter, tell me the physics.” And we work it out together. We work out physics and try to hit the big trouble points and build into the magic why certain things happen. But that doesn’t stop us from making speed bubbles where there is time passing differently without using mass or whatnot to create time dilation, and it causes all kinds of weird things to happen.

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#5 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

My friend wants to know how fast steel Compounders could possibly go, can they run up walls or over water like the Flash?

Blightsong (paraphrased)

*jokingly* Can they run through time?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Steelrunners can resist a lot things due to the power, like they can withstand the Gs they are out through, but they can't ignore wind resistance and friction. They will burn up if they start running too quickly.

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#6 Copy

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Is there a maximum speed a Coinshot can propel themselves or something else?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yes. It will vary slightly based on the strength of the Coinshot, but there are maximum velocities, just kind of... you would burn yourself up at certain points.

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

So imposed by the laws of physics.

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

Yeah, laws of physics are going to—those aren't normally going to come in play in Allomancy, because Pushing that hard will be really difficult. But, as we are getting into more mechanical uses of Allomancy, those laws of physics become more and more relevant.

Bands of Mourning release party ()
#7 Copy

Questioner

So I was actually wondering, I keep finding myself thinking of new and exciting ways to break science with magic. How do you keep yourself from doing that constantly as you're writing?

Brandon Sanderson

You write the book the best way the book can be. You give it to a scientist. You say "What does this break?" and then you either take it into account, if you think it is going to work for the book. If not you come up with an explanation in-world and you move forward. We're writing fantasy, we don't want the science to ruin our book, we want the science to be something we considered. Does that make sense? Like when I made speed bubbles and Peter's like "Red shift! You're going to irradiate people." I'm like "Alright we're just going to have to say 'Speed bubbles are not irradiating people' ". And just be aware of it and write the best book you can.

Shadows of Self Lansing signing ()
#8 Copy

Questioner

So during the chase scene in Shadows of Self, it seems to imply that conservation of momentum is...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Allomancy follows the law of conservation of momentum, yes. 

Questioner

So that is intentional?

Brandon Sanderson

It is, it does follow the laws of conservation of momentum. That was very intentional.

General Twitter 2010 ()
#9 Copy

EricLake

@BrandSanderson In M:AoL, will bendalloy’s time dilation result in redshifting of light going in/out of the bubble? #weescience

Brandon Sanderson

I’ve been working on the science of it. Basically, I’ve been treating it as a gravitational time dilation.

But only focused inward, and equally, on those inside the bubble. It’s making my brain hurt a bit, but I think I’ve got it working

I think this means yes to a gravitational redshift. But . . . it gets wacky. Trying to decide just what it would do is tough.

Miscellaneous 2010 ()
#10 Copy

Peter Ahlstrom

OK guys, help me out on this.

Let's take a bubble where time is sped up inside, maybe to 10x, maybe to 100x. I'm thinking that if there is no light source inside the bubble, but all light comes from the area outside the bubble, to an observer outside the bubble all light that goes inside and gets redshifted will get blueshifted back the same amount when it exits the bubble. So the outside observer won't see a color change at all. (I'm ignoring refraction for the purposes of this post, but someone else may elucidate.)

The person inside the bubble will see a redshift of all light coming into the bubble--but will also see far fewer photons per second, so the world will go dim or even black.

At low time-speedups, the person in the bubble will see UV light shifted into the visible range, so will start effectively seeing in UV. At very fast speeds he can see X rays or even gamma rays. (I don't know from Brandon what the max speedup is.)

If the person inside the bubble turns on a flashlight, this will be shifted into the UV or X-ray range when it leaves the bubble. You can fry everyone around you with deadly radiation this way.

When you have a bubble that slows time, the opposite happens. People inside can see in infrared or radio waves. And if they go slow enough, visible light from the outside is shifted into the X-ray or gamma-ray range and the person inside gets fried by radiation. If they turn on a flashlight, people outside get cooked.

Can anyone point out flaws in this analysis? Does anyone have magical suggestions for why any of these things wouldn't happen?

For practical reasons it looks like there will need to be a lot of handwavium burned.

Boskone 54 ()
#11 Copy

Questioner

So North America being islands, was that just another bit of color?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. That was based around the idea of, I want to do this cool thing. I’m just going to do this cool thing. Peter did not have a chance to look at that and tell me if the physics of that planet work or not. But once we pulled it out of the Cosmere, we didn’t have to worry if the physics do.

Questioner

I wasn’t sure if it was tied to history of the magic or?

Brandon Sanderson

No, I didn’t tie it to the history of the magic. I just said, I’m going to do a small planet and we’re just going to make it a big atoll. You’ll see the same things in Europe if we ever do a map of that, which we probably won’t, but South America you’ll see similar stuff.

Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing ()
#12 Copy

Questioner

Speed bubbles--

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Ehhhh... these are the hardest ones.

Questioner

We've seen them work and move with trains, we've seen them not work with carriages: is there a size requirement, or is it how they view themselves?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a good question. So I build in this thing, right? I'm like "Oooh, speed bubbles! Speed bubbles are cool!" but the Delorean problem, right? You're like "I'm going to go back in time: to the middle of SPACE", because the planet is in the same position, right? This is stuff that science fiction writers have been having fun with since the silver age of science fiction. So I'm like "Alright, I need to deal with the Delorean problem". And so I'm like "Alright, we're going to have to say that frame of reference is a big part of it: so perception and frame of reference is a big part of it; and also size of the thing that you're on". So it would be possible to use kind of cosmere cognitive training to get that speed bubble moving with you-- And someone asked me a question about this on tour, I believe, so it would be in one of the reports-- Not this exact same thing, but "Could they learn to move their speed bubble with them?" And yes you can.

Questioner

So it is how the allomancer views it, not how the thing views itself?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a part of it. Partially how it view itself, *garbled* It's really also mass. Big thing-- The speed bubbles required all kinds of physics-gymnastics. I'm sorry physicists, but once you start playing with time the stuff you gotta do. It's just crazy stuff you gotta do.

Questioner

We actually sat down and worked out what the metric would have to do to have a speed bubble-- Yeah, it was gnarly.

Brandon Sanderson

...We did run the math on these things, and stuff like that. And Peter, y'know, he rais-- "Redshift" and stuff like this we talked about. And all kinds of fun stuff about speed bubbles that I then had to--

Bystander

Khriss asked about that?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So this is-- This one and manipulating weight... Those are the math ones. So these are the ones where-- They create the fun things to talk about, but they are where this is fantasy and not science fiction. Like a lot of these questions I could answer and you'd be like "Alright, if there were this alternate power source, we could buy this" but in this case we're like exception-list-of-asterisks to make it work. But they're too fun to not do, right? And I knew I was doing gravity on Stormlight, so I'm like "I gotta do weight separately".

OdysseyCon 2016 ()
#14 Copy

Kurkistan

What exactly- When an object enters a time bubble, how exactly does it determine- how does it know how fast and which direction it's really going?

Brandon Sanderson

It gets deflected a little bit when it enters, but then it adapts to the momentum that it would have going in.

Kurkistan

Like Spiritual bonds to something or other?

Brandon Sanderson

Riiight *sounds hesitant* it's- so... I can't explain that because it has relevance in the future. But in that moment when it passes [into the bubble], something is happening with conservation of momentum. The trick we have to do with it in order to keep from irradiating people.

Firefight Atlanta signing ()
#16 Copy

Questioner

As a physicist I appreciate you being so consistent with your magic systems.

Brandon Sanderson

It is something I try very hard to do, though I do recognize that we do bend a lot of rules. When we were doing the time-based one in this [The Alloy of Law], I'm like, "Oh, boy, redshifts. Oh, no, conservation of energy." We had to do some bending to make it so that the radiation from the light passing out of the time bubble wasn't deadly.