Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Working Title: Periodic Table Of Awesome: From YKTTW

Possible alternative title: Out of their element?

arromdee: Um, considering that silver nitrate is a commonly known and used compound and it really is "Ag NO 3", why would something called "agenothree" not be that? Is there some reason to believe it isn't, like an actual chemical formula in the book or something?

Daibhid C: I always thought it was nitric acid. Aitch-En-Oh-Three - agenothree. I suppose it could be silver nitrate, since it's also corrosive.

Zyada: Agenonthree is explained in the "Dragondex" as HNO 3 in my edition of Dragonflight, which looks to be printed in 1971

Citizen: Removing the Pern example for being mistaken, then.

Mekanurg: Thorium reactors are actually feasible, though more complex than plutonium-fuelled ones. India has carried out some experiments along that line. Useless nuggest of information: it is possible to make a nuclear bomb of neptunium, though it requires at least ten times as much fissile material as a plutonium device, and that's why it has never been done.

  • Plutonium-186 in The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (which is actually justified by weird transdimensional stuff, but I think it still qualifies).
    • He had a Ph.D. in biochemistry, so he was just playing. He liked to play with that kind of stuff because he was well aware of the real facts. He did do the research, but never let it get in the way of the Rule of Drama (and Rule of Funny).

The fact that Plutonium-186 is impossible is what's driving the plot forward at that point, so this can hardly be a case of "elements don't work that way".

This Troper never had the impression that "cold iron" was a poetic phrase. Doubtless someone had seen a lodestone lose its magnetization when heated above the Curie point.

Prfnoff: There are many acids not named after elements. Is there any reason to suspect "beltric acid" is named after a fictional element it contains?
  • Of course, Superman III had yet ANOTHER chemical impossibility, that is "beltric acid", in both name (the existence of a nonmetal called "beltrium" would be needed for "beltric" acid to exist) and behaviour (when it heats, it becomes so corrosive to eat through everything... except its container).

Johnny E: So what are the properties of carbolium and acetum then? It's not every day you discover new elements in household products...

Nornagest: Cut this —

**hey maybe T'au has a lot of Iridium, plus it IS only for Commanders because it's expensive

...for blindingly obvious reasons.

Johnny E: "close to Natter"? I count at most two useful points (and even those are WM Gs) in this whole mess, so saved those.
  • ...On Earth. Remember, one of the bits of evidence for the "meteor killed the dinosaurs" theory is an unusually high level of iridium when you get down to the geology of 65 million years ago; since they control a fair region of space, they may very well be mining asteroids. And the weight is at least represented in-game.
  • Well the Tau are aliens with very high level of technology, so maybe they did find a way to make Iridium armour lighter and cheaper, plus it is in the beta testing vast and only commanders are allow to use it.
  • No, not possible. You cannot make an element lighter. Elements have a fixed atomic mass which doesn't change (excluding isotopes). It may be possible to reduce its density (essentially by punching holes in it), but this also limits its strength.
  • Unless, of course, you know enough about chemistry to understand that a COMPOUND of an element could be less dense and provide more tensile strength than the element itself.
  • We're talking about a race whose most commonly used piece of advanced technology is antigravity. If you could make antigrav systems small enough, you could place them in iridium plates to compensate somewhat for the weight. But this is veering perilously close to Natter.

Is it just me, or is a good third of this page responses to entries defending the source material or starting with "Actually" and its ilk? Cleanup on Aisle all-of-em, please.

Twin Bird: I don't want this to turn into an Edit War, but I don't think my entry about the illogic of silicon-based lifeforms acting like robots was "forum-like" in any way.

Peteman: Which episode had the Defiant use Neutronium as armour? I know it's been used as armour by various other people (the doors to the Cardassian capital building, the Doomsday Machine, Jason Alexander's Think Tank ship, I think the Vidiians at one point, possibly the Borg), but not the Defiant.

Malimar: Removed this. As far as I know, wonderflonium is not an actual element, so does not fit the trope; it would more properly be unobtanium.
  • Dr. Horrible has wonderflonium, which must not be bounced.

Be: Bye-bye to the Iron Man example - a gold-titanium alloy might not be any good at fixing the icing problem, but it's not applying any intrinsic properties to gold or to titanium, meaning it belongs somewhere in Did Not Do The Research
  • In Iron Man, his armor becomes frost-proof due to a "gold-titanium alloy" used in satellites.

Magefire: Removed this. Palladium is almost certainly a reference to cold fusion, which supposedly works by passing electrical currents through deuterium-impregnated palladium electrodes. This is made-up physics, not bad chemistry.
  • In the Iron Man film, palladium, a semi-precious metal, is used as part of a reactor that can put out more energy than a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier can. This reactor can be worn on one's chest. Even assuming this is somehow true if one just gets the formula right or something, this would be so far beyond modern science's understanding of chemistry and energy that Tony Stark either guessed randomly or is far, far smarter than the supergenius the film already makes him out to be.

Mike: removed this:
  • Escape Velocity: Nova sent you after palladium once or twice (depending on which route through the game you took); however, neither recipient ever told you what they were going to use it for. It also has thorium reactors.
Reason: palladium has a many uses (capacitor manufacturing, purifying hydrogen, catalyst for assorted reactions, storing hydrogen, and artistic uses), and, since the use isn't specified, it could easily be a real use. Thorium, as explained by The Other Wiki, actually does work that way (although it requires a neutron source, it is used in some real world reactors), so also not an example.

Zuriga: What part of "see Elemental Crafting sub-trope for weapon and armor uses" is unclear? Honestly, 007! Removed this:

  • "Cold" iron has been used for years as poetic imagery for iron, which has been long-established as an effective substance for repelling The Fair Folk. (Specifically, some folk tales refer to carrying with you "a length of cold iron" to repel faeries...but this was before steel became commonplace, and the phrase "cold steel" would have replaced it, giving it a much different connotation.) In Edition 3.5 of Dungeons & Dragons, however, cold iron is a distinct substance mined deep underground which must be forged at the lowest temperatures in order to preserve its mystical ability to harm fey and demons.
    • Changeling: The Dreaming, on the other hand, just specified that the fae's "cold iron" weakness specifically meant wrought iron (extremely low-carbon iron mixed with slag). Also pointed out was that the threat was reduced in modern day, due to cast iron and steel being so much more prevalent.
      • In the New World of Darkness Changeling: the Lost has Cold Iron as Iron that was hand forged. In the Rites of Spring splatbook, several variances are given. One of which is that there is nothing special about Iron at all. The element is the least magical thing on the planet. Which makes it perfect for cutting through magical spells of all types. Using this story in a game means that Iron can cut through magic from every one of the game's supernaturals. Doing magic on the iron itself makes it magic, though, and causes that piece to lose these properties.

  • Dungeons & Dragons has alchemical silver weapons, weapons with silver alchemical infused into steel. This actually weakens the weapon, negating the attack bonus for a masterwork weapon (required for the silvering process). However, it means the weapon will harm werecreatures of all sorts.

  • In the Crusader series, the Silencers' armor is made from a polonium alloy. Yes, that polonium.
  • Hellgate: London has Palladium, though this might be considered an aversion: palladium is actually a precious metal, worth a bit less than gold.
  • Thorium is a radioactive soft metal in the real world, but is tougher than Mithril in World of Warcraft. Similarly, "Cobalt" and "Titanium" are much more impressive in World of Warcraft than on a real periodic table.
    • Warcraft 3 actually started this. The second and third melee, ranged, and armor upgrade for the Orcish Horde were Thorium and Arcanite (Reaper, HOOOOOOOOO!), respectively.
    • It's pretty good about silver and gold weapons, etc. — while those sometimes appear in armor/weapon crafting recipes, they are always paired with much larger quantities of base metals. (Presumably magic takes it from there.)
    • Lets not forget Saronite, a made up metal named after a Cthulhu Expy. There is a fair share of made up metals only used for quests, too.
      • Saronite is most likely an ore, rather than an element. Warcraft isn't afraid of an -ium metal.
  • RPGs often have equipment made out of gold, despite the fact that gold is soft and very heavy, and thus wouldn't be good for making weapons and armor. Interestingly, the Gold Swords in Final Fantasy III are very weak, making it so there's no point in using them over more powerful equipment available at that point in the game, though the fact that they're made out of gold makes them valuable.
    • This editor once ran a web-based RPG, and the gold weapons followed the above example. They were massively overpriced for what little power they had. He still managed to convince a few players they were great weapons worth saving up for, since "hey, they cost twice as much as the sword of lunchtime, they gotta be better!".
    • The Forgotten Realms in 3rd Edition used hardened gold and platinum—no explanation for how this was done—in weapons, the extra weight resulting in a penalty to attacks but an increase in damage. In previous editions, as silver was equivalent to a magic weapon against lycanthropes, gold was considered even better against them, resulting in higher bonuses--but only against lycanthropes.
    • Diamond armor is also mentioned in a few RP Gs. Real diamond is extremely hard stuff, but that doesn't make it strong. Diamond edges can cut through anything and will resist cutting or scratching from any other substance, but if you whack a diamond with a blunt instrument, it'll split clean in two. (Plus, being pure carbon, you can Kill It with Fire.)
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has silver armor. There are also silver weapons throughout the franchise, but this is justified as they are one of the few things capable of hurting Energy Beings and Daedra. Of course, there's high probability that it's only a silver plating, but [1] is not sure if that was ever mentioned explicitly.
    • It is silver plating. This troper has seen it written...somewhere. So Yeah.
    • Also appearing are glass and ebony armor and weapons. These are stated in the lore not to resemble their earthly namesakes — real ebony is a type of wood, and while strong for wood has never been used for weapons or armour, and is most definitely NOT FOUND IN MINES! This doesn't stop some people from thinking Elder Scrolls ebony is supposed to be a real-world substance. In the games, "glass" is a form of naturally-occurring and possibly-volcanic glass, and doesn't form the base of the armor anyway, and ebony is similar to obsidian without the fragility, being a very black volcanic glass, allegedly the solidified blood of a dead god as his heart was flung to the planet.
  • Dwarf Fortress has silver weapons, but averts the trope by making them pretty useless (half as effective as their iron equivalents). They are quite valuable though, and make ideal training weapons because dwarves wielding them are much less likely to accidentally injure their sparring partners.
    • Metals which are normally unusable for armor and weapons can still be used to make them if the dwarf involved is making his once-in-a-lifetime artifact and succeeds. This can lead to such things as an artifact helmet/chainmail armor/sword made out of stuff like bismuth, pig iron, tin, lead, gold, aluminum, or... just about any other metal you can think of that people could produced in the 14th century. However, any of these metals are just as bad a material as silver/wood for this purpose.
  • Dungeons & Dragons feature weapons made out of silver, which are less effective at dealing damage than regular weapons. However, they are useful for dispatching monsters with a specific weakness to silver (e.g. lycanthropes.)

  • In fantasy and adventure stories, weapons, particularly swords, are often made of metals that are extremely inefficient for that kind of use. Silver and gold are the most popular.
    • Additionally, many metals are shown as being much stronger (or weaker) than they actually are. For example, an iron sword will usually be considered a bottom-tier weapon, while a silver sword is high-tier, even though iron is actually a much stronger metal than silver.

Real Slim Shadowen: I added the point about the Silencer armor back in, because it's not about Elemental Crafting. There is no mythical crap surrounding polonium like silver vs. werewolves. It's about how the game writers chose, probably at random, a soft, self-heating, unstable, toxic, reactive, and extremely heavy element as what the main character's armor is made from.