Friday, 4 June 2010

i think the new bits in my back are made of omnium steel*

Generously assuming you to be no fool, you have already read John Finnemore on the length of a giraffe's neck and a good nap. It immediately made me want to do similar things, but I am a busy guy, so I didn't.

But then, a couple of hours later, I wanted to check on the names of fictional metals. I typed 'fictional m-' into the search box. The suggestions were 'map generator; monsters; maps; metals; mothers'. There were no particularly existential moments, but it was interesting all the same.

My favourites from the list of fictional metals on Wikipedia:
- Phrikk, from the expanded Star Wars universe, which is a metal which can survive the destruction of a world**
- Vibranium, which is what Captain America's shield is mostly made of. It is sort of associated with Antarctica and the African country of Wakenda. Specifically it can absorb all vibrations in the vicinity as well as kinetic energy directed at it. The energy absorbed is stored within the bonds between the molecules that make up the substance. This doesn't kill it and makes it stronger
- Unobtanium, which is the funny maguffin metal in Avatar which inexplicably the company does not mine by tunneling OR acquire easily from the floating islands which must be more or less made of it. What I didn't know was that it is a long-standing engineers' joke to describe a non-existent material with desirable properties, as in, 'If you want to carry that load with a single strut, it'll need to be made of unobtanium'***

* Stronger than titanium; weaker than adamantium
** The Frick is my favourite gallery in the world. Coincidence?
*** Or, 'If you want a metal valuable enough to be a maguffin worthy of this ridiculous plot, you can't use gold or similar - it'll need to be unobtanium'

1 comment:

Mrs. H said...

Unobtainium has been around a lot longer than Avatar. I bristle when I see credit for it going to that film.