Anonymous asks:

You’re a chemist, right? Mind watching a Youtube video called ‘EVERY Steel Type Pokemon EXPLAINED!’ by Lockstin&Gnoggin and tell us what you think? I watched that video and immediately thought it might be something you’d be interested in! 🙂

This is the video we’re talking about

Okay, so, saying that I’m a chemist would be a slight exaggeration; I mean, I have an undergrad degree in chemistry but it is not my professional field.  But whatever.

There’s a few, like, miscellaneous mistakes/head-desk moments scattered through the video, like saying that basalt is a metal (it f#%&ing isn’t) or that hydroxyapatite is “a form of calcium” (in much the same way that pineapples are “a form of carbon”).  Also Gnoggin says EVERY Steel-type Pokémon but I’m pretty sure he missed Bronzong for some reason?  He mentioned it in a list at least once, but I don’t think he ever actually discussed it individually like all the others.  I’m nitpicking though; most of the specific things he says are basically fine.  I kind of wonder about the general point, whether it does much good trying to systematically apply real science to Pokémon like this.  Ultimately Steel Pokémon are made of metals/alloys that have the properties the designers want them to have, which means that they are all probably a little bit magic and can’t easily be related to real metals/alloys unless a source like the Pokédex (or the Pokémon’s name) gives us an explicit hint.

It’s also… weirdly unimaginative in places?  Like, with Durant for instance, Gnoggin never even raises the possibility that Durant’s armour might just work in exactly the same way as Aron’s.  We see them eating leaves in the anime, but we know they dig into mountains like Aron, so couldn’t they also have a mineral component to their diet?  And he seems to think that having them somehow craft their own armour would just be too strange, but… why?  That is, after all, exactly the way the Pokédex talks about Durant – “covering themselves in steel armour” – and it would sort of fit the idea that ants within a colony have specialised roles to suggest that there might be “armourer Durant” within a colony.  Obviously we can’t “prove” that, it’s speculation, but we can’t “prove” almost anything in this video, so why not explore some more out-there possibilities?  Or Shelmet and Karrablast – the Pokédex tells us that Karrablast “targets Shelmet”; what could be the point of that line, if not to indicate that they do evolve in the wild, through some means that we just don’t know about?  Why would they even have evolved forms at all if they never evolve in the wild?

Having said all that, there’s some ideas in there I quite like.  Wormadam’s urban form having a fibreglass coat is an interesting thought, and I am weirdly okay with the necessary corollary that plastics fall under the domain of Steel-types (chemically they’re not similar at all, but thematically they have a nice similarity as materials linked with humanity and technology).  Titanium makes sense for Genesect, not just for the reasons Gnoggin suggests, but because it’s a highly biocompatible metal (which is why it’s used in prosthetics); it’s a very sensible choice to use if you’re going to splice metal parts into a Pokémon that didn’t develop naturally as a Steel-type.  It makes sense to interpret Jirachi’s Steel-type as deriving from meteoric ore and shooting stars.  Also, although I don’t think this actually originates with him (it seems to be on Bulbapedia as well), this is the first time I’ve encountered the suggestion that Lucario’s name is a backwards Japanese spelling of orichalcum, and as a Plato nerd, I approve.

Finally, I feel you should all know that Jim the Editor and I just literally spent over an hour bickering about whether you could actually prove that Cobalion’s designers intended for us to see Cobalion as literally made of cobalt alloy/cobalt steel, successfully proving only that we are both horrible people who deserve each other.

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