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Your search for the tag 'physics' yielded 32 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    How does your knowledge of physics influence your idea of channeling and the Talents involved in the books, such as Traveling, Skimming, etc? Do you have other hobbies or talents that influence your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    My knowledge of physics influenced channeling to the extent that I have attempted to treat channeling as if it were a form of science and engineering rather than magic. You might say that the Laws of Thermodynamics apply in altered form. I expect that my reading in history has influenced the books more than my knowledge of physics or engineering. I have not tried to copy any actual historical culture or period, but a knowledge of the way things actually were done at various times has helped shape my vision of the world of The Wheel, as has the study of cultures meeting that are strange to one another, and cultures undergoing change, willingly or, as is more often the case, unwillingly. I used to spend summers working on my grandfather’s farm, a very old-fashioned set-up even then, so I have some feel for country life, and I like to hunt and fish, and spent a good part of my growing up in the woods or on the water, so I have a fair feel for the outdoors and the forests, which also helps. And of course, I can use a little of my Vietnam experience. Not for setting out the actual battles, but because I know firsthand the confusion of battle and what it is like to try to maintain some semblance or order while all around you random events are pushing everything toward chaos.

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  • 2

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He sees some correlation between Randland's "magic" (a term he frowns on) and quantum physics, but he says it is not deliberate. He disbelieves 95-99% of modern physics but says it will be 50 years before it is put in the same file as phlogiston.

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  • 3

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Question

    Physics/Math background and how it affected his writing:

    Robert Jordan

    —only marginally useful

    —structure

    —Schrödinger's Cat and other Quantum Physics stuff helps with conceptualization of fantasy structure.

    —His editor (also his wife) said that the physics and math was more important than he gave it credit for. ;)

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  • 4

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    borg

    Has your background in physics and as a member of the US Army influenced your books?

    Robert Jordan

    It could hardly help having done so.

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  • 5

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Nick

    What were some of the jobs that you did before you were a writer?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really a lot... I was a nuclear engineer and I was in the US Army before that. Then I became a writer.

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  • 6

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    I noticed that you have a degree in physics. Any chance of getting into the quantum mechanics of the concept of Traveling pertaining to The Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    (Laughing) I doubt it.

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  • 7

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    You're a scientist, you have a degree in physics I saw.

    Robert Jordan

    Eh, yes. I'm not sure I'd call myself a scientist, but, my degree is in physics, yes.

    Question

    It'd be logical for a physicist to write science fiction, and not fantasy. How did you come to fantasy and not science fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    Because I write what I want to write, really, but I'm not certain I'd say that it would be logical for a physicist to write science fiction. Are you aware of the paradigm [and now I finally know how to correctly pronounce that English word] called Schrödinger's Cat?

    Questioner

    No.

    Aan'allein

    [This guy just lost all respect I could possibly have for him, and it's getting worse.]

    Robert Jordan

    It's a mind test in a way, really. If you can wrap your mind around it in the right way, believe it, then you are ready for higher physics. Imagine a cat, sealed in a lead box, and there's no way to look into the box. Inside the box there is a flask of cyanide gas. Attached to the flask of cyanide gas is a Geiger counter. The Geiger counter is pointed at an atom. The atom has a 50-50 chance, in any given second, of decay. Now tell me, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    He's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, no, no, is the cat alive, or is the cat dead? I'm not asking you to give me odds. Is the cat alive, or is the cat dead?

    Questioner

    Ah, he's alive.

    Robert Jordan

    No.

    Question

    Why not?

    Robert Jordan

    If you're an engineer...If you have an engineering mindset, you'll say that the only way to do it is to open the box and check. If you have the mindset that could take you into higher physics, you're willing to accept that the cat is alive and dead, both, and will be fixed in one state or the other when the box is opened. But until the box is opened, the cat is alive, and it is dead, simultaneously.

    Questioner

    Yeah, that's fifty-fifty.

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's not a fifty-fifty chance. A fifty-fifty chance says that it's fifty percent chance that the cat is one way, and fifty percent that it's the other way.

    Questioner

    So it's either way.

    Robert Jordan

    No, the cat is not either way; it is both. It is 100% alive, and 100% that the cat is dead, and both things are true. And must be acceptable as true. If you cannot accept this as true, then you are not ready for quantum...for the most basic quantum physics, much less getting into anything beyond.

    But the thing is that if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's cat, you can also wrap your mind around fantasy. As a matter of fact, the thing that I find very interesting is that...I don't really follow theoretical physics to any degree now, and haven't for more than twenty years. But when I find myself talking to a theoretical physicist, I sometimes get stuck on panels with theoretical physicists. I'm always afraid that I'm going to be left way behind because I haven't kept up in the area, but I find that I can keep up quite nicely. As long as...while they're discussing theoretical physics, I discuss theology. And ah, I find myself able to keep up quite nicely, talking about the same thing.

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  • 8

    Interview: Mar 29th, 2004

    Sci Fi Weekly

    There is a lot of magic in your writing. Do you believe in any form of magic? How much of your spirituality is reflected in your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't believe in magic, which is one of the reasons I structured the One Power very much as if it is a science. In fact, the technology of the preceding age was based on the use of the One Power.

    As for how much of my spirituality is in my books, I leave it to anybody else to say whether I have any spirituality. I think I'm pretty grounded.

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  • 9

    Interview: Mar 29th, 2004

    Sci Fi Weekly

    How did you go from nuclear engineer to writing fantasy for a living?

    Robert Jordan

    Are you familiar with Schroedinger's cat?

    Sci Fi Weekly

    Yes—that's quantum physics. That's the theory that if a cat were put into a steel chamber with radiation, the feline would be alive and dead at the same time. This is because of the superposition of possible outcomes that exist simultaneously.

    Robert Jordan

    Schroedinger's cat is really a test in a way. If you can wrap your mind around Schroedinger's cat and accept that, than you are ready to take on quantum physics. I also think, if you can wrap your mind around Schroedinger's cat and accept that, than you are ready to write fantasy.

    I don't keep up with the current literature in physics. Occasionally, at conventions, I have been put on panels with physicists—because I have a degree in physics. The only way I can hold my own with the physicists is if I forget talking about physics and start talking theology. If I talk theology, they seem to understand what I'm saying and we get along quite well.

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  • 10

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Delmar, NY

    Besides your incredibly structured magic system, how would you say that your physics education has influenced your writing? Do you regret at all not taking English and writing classes in college instead?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't have any regrets about not taking college English courses. If you major in English, I believe you're well trained to teach English but not necessarily to use it. And my physics background also gave me a view of structure that I think has been very useful in writing.

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  • 11

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    Does he believe in magic?

    Robert Jordan

    No way no how. He is a pragmatist and realist. He also thinks current quantum mechanics is becoming more theology than science.

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  • 12

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    How did he start writing?

    Robert Jordan

    He loved books from an early age and planned to be a writer when he was eight or ten. Later he realized that most authors can't actually make a living on writing alone so he went with his second love, science and mathematics. At age thirty he wrecked his knee and almost died from complications. During his recuperation he decided life's too short to settle for second best and he's been writing ever since.

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  • 13

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    When asked about how he came up with the magic system for WoT, RJ said it began in kind of a strange way.

    Robert Jordan

    He had read a book a long time ago, he didn't provide a title or author, where the women of that world were not allowed to use the magic. RJ said that started him thinking about a world where it was the men, not the women, that were forbidden magic. Then he needed a real reason for denying men the use of magic, and that the Source, its division into male and female halves, and the taint on the male half all grew from that original line of speculation. As he was designing the concept, he tried to devise it as a science and engineering concept with the use of the different elements in weaving and such.

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  • 14

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    In the Wheel of Time there is focus on events occurring again and again throughout history. Is it just history which is circular, or is it time itself which is in a loop?

    Robert Jordan

    If you think of history being in a loop, then time must be in a loop. The Greeks were the first, as far as we know, to think of time being linear which allows for change. Almost every other culture prior to them had believed in circular time, if time is a wheel there is no possibility of change. Whatever I change now, whatever injustices I correct, the wheel will inevitably return, the inequities will return, there is no possibility for change, therefore there is not impetus to change. So time and history are in a loop in this world, a large enough loop...ah...it is really quite immense.

    Question

    So, the sun will never go nova, will never die?

    Robert Jordan

    In this universe, no.

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  • 15

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    How did your background in physics influence how you structured the world of the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Largely it was to make things realistic, as realistic as I can. Background in physics and engineering; I also tried to structure channeling as if it were a science or technology. No eye of newt, hair of dog. There are real limits, there are rules, there are technological structures to channeling which I think are fairly obvious to anyone who looks at it. That was the major influence.

    Plus making sure that I see that everything is real. Well if I bring about a blacksmith, well I don't know anything about blacksmithing, but I was able to get some nineteenth century books on blacksmithing, and once I had written the scenes I sent them to a woman I met that was a blacksmith and farrier, and she said you need to do this and you need to do that, but otherwise it is okay.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    This woman was at the time the only woman blacksmith on the high council of American smithing. She made a lot of the stuff at Billy Graham's in North Carolina, but she wrote wonderful comments back and said, if you want Perrin to ever have children, you must have a leather apron, which was among her other good bits.

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  • 16

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    I was interested in the physics like with the Mirror Worlds, the Worlds of If?

    Robert Jordan

    The Mirror Worlds of course come right out of physics, and the possibility of (mumble) universes and all of the rest of it. But frankly while I don't follow the literature, I haven't for a number of years, I occasionally get stuck on panels with physicists and I am supposed to discuss physics, which I am twenty-five years out of date. But I find that I can hold my own, although I do not have a doctorate or did I ever intend to get one, I went to work instead. I can hold my own with the PhDs in physics when they are talking theoretical physics if I stop talking physics, at least from my point of view, and start talking theology, and this troubles me.

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  • 17

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    Regarding the One Power, in a universal sense, like your physics background, is it more of a force like gravity would be, weak electromagnetic and strong electromagnetic, or is it something more of on a quantum level? Is it on a quantum level in your universe or is it a macro power?

    Robert Jordan

    I think you are going to have to think of it as being on a quantum level.

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  • 18

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    I have talked before about turning the logic of physics into being a fantasy writer. The first part of it is a simple paradigm that you're given as an undergraduate: Schroedinger's Cat. An engineer says, "Well, we can't know if the cat is alive or dead. You open the box to find out." A physicist says (if he has the right frame of mind for quantum physics), "The cat is both alive and dead, and will be fixed in one state or the other when you open the box." If you can really wrap your mind around that, you're ready to write fantasy!

    I browse mythology, but I think if you've studied it too closely there is a tendency to be too grounded in it—an unwillingness to start twisting things and bending things too far. In physics, you expect it to twist and bend and you say, "How does this work? What can I come up with? Hmmm. I wonder how far this thing will bend?" At one time I really did want to get a doctorate in quantum optics but that was a long time ago, so I have not kept up with the literature at all (though I do like the whole notion of the particles, powers, and forces). Occasionally I've been stuck on a panel with physicists—I don't know why they do this to me, since I'm 30 years out of date! Most of the time I'm wondering what the hell they're talking about, but I've discovered a way that I can hold my own: I don't think about discussing physics; I discuss theology, and they think I'm discussing physics! That again says to me, physics is a great grounding for writing fantasy.

    Then there's the moral element. In fantasy you're allowed to have at least some dividing line between good and evil, right and wrong. I really believe people want that. In so much of literature there's total moral ambiguity: good is not merely the flip side of evil, it's on the same side of the coin. Quite often you can't tell the difference between the two. If you want to talk about good and evil in mainstream literature, you do it with a nudge and a wink to show that you're really joking, but in fantasy you can say, 'This is right, this is wrong; this is good, this is evil.' OK, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but it's worth the effort to try.

    Sometimes you're going to make the wrong call, but that doesn't mean you suddenly have to go on living and try to make the right call the next time, being aware that you have a belly button and that means you're going to make mistakes, sometimes big ones.

    Nobody has ever gotten up one morning and said, 'I am a villain' or 'I will be a villain.' What they say is 'I want power.' Serial killers want power, and so do rapists and a lot of other villains, but let’s stick with one sort as an example. You want power and you convince yourself that your being in power will be the best for everyone. That is the way most politicians work. But then there are the guys who say, 'I want power, and if I can convince them that it's the best for everyone, all to the good. I don't give a good goddamn whether it is or not, as long as it's good for me.' He doesn't think he's a villain; he's just trying to do the best he can for himself. But he's on the road to villainy. Unfortunately, so are some of the guys who said, 'This is going to be for the best for all the people involved.' If you do what you believe is the best thing in the world and the result is you deliver millions of people into slavery, as Lenin did in Russia, are you a villain? Yes, you are.

    A fellow in Russia, a politician who's a fan of my books, was asking me a lot of questions because he gives them to his friends. He said, "I tell them these are not a manual of politics; they are a manual of the poetry of politics." I'd never thought of them that way. But there's this scale: at one end is total purity in your beliefs, at the other what your enemies believe and are willing to do. Sometimes you can maintain total purity and still defeat your enemies—or win out over them, if you wish to use a less aggressive term. (It still means kick their butts into next week.) But sometimes you can't. If holding onto purity means that the other guys are going to win, then what is your purity worth? So you move just enough to counter them, but now you've danced onto that slippery slope of necessary evil.

    And it is necessary, that's the unfortunate thing. The world is not a textbook study—it's uncomfortably real. And that's where you have to start dancing very hard to make sure you don't swing so far over that your victory is no different from their victory. Often the media just give excuses: "He had a terrible childhood, so the fact that he killed 47 women with an ax is not totally to be held against him." Simplistic, true, but not far off the money really except in scale. I don't believe that many people are purely good, and most of those are ineffectual. We all contain shades of gray. But how dark is that gray? I used to pride myself on being a cynic until somebody said to me, "Oh, a cynic is just a failed romantic." These days being a cynic is too lazy an option.

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  • 19

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2009

    Question

    Does RJ work out things like conservation laws, since he was a physicist?

    Brandon Sanderson

    From what I've seen, he considered it, the power that is doing all these things is coming from somewhere. They discovered the Dark One by finding the power (True Power). (They are) not aware of the source of the One Power. The Law of Conservation of Energy works, it's coming from somewhere, we're not sure where. It's not something the characters were considering, so it wasn't appropriate to include in the books.

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  • 20

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    Robert Jordan started writing about twenty years ago at the age of thirty, before that he worked as an engineer. He has degrees in mathematics and physics.

    He says, "I am a writer, I write fantasy .. I have written other things (and) I may write other things again." Going from the world of physics and maths to fantasy is not that big a step, he adds, "You have to have an almost theological faith for quantum physics."

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  • 21

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    You have a degree in physics and you were employed by the Navy as a nuclear engineer: why did you decide to become a writer?

    Robert Jordan

    It doesn’t seem to me such a big step, maybe because I’ve always wanted to write. When I was an engineer I got seriously injured, I had a very long convalescence in which I read a lot and I got bored with what I was reading. It was then that I said to myself that I had been waiting long enough, and if I wanted to write it was time to do it or shut up. So I did it.

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  • 22

    Interview: May 24th, 2004

    Chiara Codecà

    But why did you decide on fantasy literature?

    Robert Jordan

    Are you familiar with Schrödinger’s cat?

    Chiara Codecà

    I was not, but I checked when I found out that you mentioned it in another interview.

    Robert Jordan

    (Smiles) You did your homework. It’s quantum physics. It’s a theory that says that if a cat were put into a steel closed chamber filled with radiation you can’t know if the feline is dead or alive until you open the door. Until you do, because of the superposition of possible outcomes that exist simultaneously, the cat would be dead and alive at the same time.

    Schrödinger's Cat is really a test in a way. If you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, then you are ready to take on quantum physics. I also think, if you can wrap your mind around Schrödinger's Cat and accept that, than you are ready to write fantasy.

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  • 23

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    After military service I entered the Citadel—The Military College of South Carolina. Despite its name, it is, in fact, a university. At the Citadel I received a degree in physics and worked as a nuclear engineer for the Navy. Doesn’t it seem to you that that a fantasy author having an education in physics is somewhat out of the ordinary?

    Tahir Velimeev

    I would not say that. I know several Russian science fiction authors with an education in the natural sciences that have been successfully working in the fantasy genre ... By the way, we now come to how the writer emerged from the engineer.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, maybe there is more prosaic level—the abundance of free time. After an unfortunate accident I found myself in a hospital bed with a lot of time, and I read everything I wanted. And one day I thought that could well try to write myself. Having started writing in 1977, I’m determined to do so right up my dying day.

    Tahir Velimeev

    And why fantasy? Why not works about, say, the Vietnam War, which would seem more logical?

    Robert Jordan

    In my opinion, fantasy allows you to create new cultures, experiment with them, and apply a freedom to them that is impossible in the real world. Fantasy enables a brighter, clearer portrayal of the struggle between good and evil, allows you to speak more freely about what is right and what is not, and no one can say that your opinion doesn’t fit with what is generally accepted. And I think one of the cornerstones of fantasy is the belief that any obstacle can be overcome, and that if things did not work out today, they will tomorrow. Also in today's world fantasy concerns itself with myth, directing us to the deep layers of the human soul, and teaches people to believe in miracles ... The popularity of this literary genre is to a large extent determined by humankind’s aspirations for Justice...

    As for books about war ... I have a desire to write about the Vietnam War, about my comrades, and I hope that God will give me this opportunity. And for myself, I decided that this book will be released under my real name—James Oliver Rigney, Jr. ...

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  • 24

    Interview: Apr, 2012

    Brandon Sanderson

    PRK (5 APRIL 2012)

    "I wanted to tell tales about things that broke the laws of physics. Consistently."—@BrandSanderson #Swancon

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  • 25

    Interview: Jul 20th, 2012

    Casey Phillips

    You have made a distinction between "hard" (defined) and "soft" (undefined) approaches to the use of magic in fantasy novels and suggest you ere more on the harder side. Why is that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    One reason is that it's just what I enjoyed reading. Many of the magic systems earlier in fantasy's history were very soft. There were wonderful stories there, but I felt that that ground had been tread very well. It wasn't until the '90s that I read people who were doing harder magic systems, and I really liked them; they clicked with me.

    I have a bit of science background. I started in college as a biochemistry major before jumping ship to English, where I found things a lot more fun. What interests me about fantasy is not necessarily doing whatever you want but changing a few laws of physics and exploring the ramifications upon the people and upon the world itself. That fascinated me; it interests me.

    It's one that that fantasy can do that no other genre can. We ask the "What if?" and I like to explore that. I've made kind of a name for myself doing that. I'm certainly not the only one, but a hallmark of my style is that I build a system of magic that doesn't ignore the laws of physics. I'm not a physicist, so there are going to be some flaws, but it's fantasy. At the end of the day, it is fantasy; it's not physics with a different name on it. We're doing something fantastical, but I do try and consider the scientific ramifications and write a story that explores those.

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  • 26

    Interview: Feb 16th, 2013

    Viper

    Hah. So in Cosmere, does physics work the same way in the physical realm as it does in our world? Specifically, particle physics; and are atoms made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, and is light photons, etc?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Viper

    So what's at the core of an atom of Atium? Ate-teum? Also how do you pronounce it? At-teum?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. And the matter is just normal matter, but it's wrapped in the spiritual. The Spiritual DNA [or something] is what makes it magical.

    Viper

    (Note: he might've said slightly more about this but I didn't write it down and I don't remember. Sorry for not bringing a tape recorder :(/> )

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  • 27

    Interview: Mar 21st, 2014

    Kurkistan

    Are the laws of physics in the cosmere Spiritually based?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They... The laws of physics in the cosmere are ours except where they have been changed by Spiritual influence. So I guess you could say "yes."

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  • 28

    Interview: Feb 20th, 2015

    Question

    I’m a physical chemist and I’m reading your book [TWoK] right now and at some point you have someone studying flamespren and what they saw, that’s one of the fundaments [sic] of quantum mechanics--So you got that from quantum mechanics?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I did get that from quantum mechanics.

    Question

    How did you come across that and decide to incorporate that into your epic fantasy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well the Way of Kings magic systems are based on the fundamental forces. That was the original idea and the extrapolation from them. I’m fascinated by quantum mechanics and I have worked them into the way that-- Remember in my worlds, my books, the magics are a new branch of physics, in these worlds. And so they interact with our normal physics, it’s not like they are ignoring them, so they obey the laws of thermodynamics, even when they appear to be breaking them, and they interact with quantum and all the stuff. It’s just very natural that they are going to, to me if that makes sense? It would be weird if they didn’t interact with them.

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  • 29

    Interview: Feb 17th, 2016

    Question

    What happens when you Lash water, or a body of water?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Excellent question, it’s going to have some hard time gripping on--

    Question

    Would it have a gravity well going on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah it would have a gravity well, it think-- yeah. You are the first person to ask about that, I don’t think even my assistant has asked about that. So that’s your tentative answer until I think about it some more, but I think it would.

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  • 30

    Interview: Nov 30th, 2016

    Borderlands SF-AU Tour (Paraphrased)

    Necarion

    One other speed bubble question. Is the speed of light the same inside and outside a speed bubble?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Um, yes. The speed of light is the same. Good question, you’re trying to figure out the FTL.

    Necarion

    Also, it would eliminate the redshift if the speed of light…

    Brandon Sanderson

    If the speed of light were similar . That’s one thing we considered, but it felt too non-intuitive, plus it’s just not how I imagined things working. So, no it is not, but that’s a good question. It is something we considered.

    Question

    I just want to setup a lab in a speed bubble and do fun things.

    Footnote

    [Necarion’s note: there would be no redshift if the speed of light were directly proportional to the ‘speed of time’. Alas this theory doesn’t seem to be valid]

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