fictitious metals

English author J. R. R. Tolkien, in his celebrated "Lord of the Rings" fantasy trilogy and its precursor, “The Hobbitt”, described a very rare metal called mithril or ‘truesilver”. The most precious metal in Middle-earth, mithril was discovered and mined by the dwarves in the Mines of Moria (who, digging ever more deeply for the metal, finally unleashed the Balrog known as Durin's Bane). Bilbo, the protagonist of “The Hobbit”, received from the elves a mithril armored shirt during his adventures with the dwarves. He passed on this mithril mail-coat to his nephew Frodo, who wore it hidden under his garments. It saved his life in Moria when it stopped a spear from killing him. Described by Bilbo as "light as a feather," mithril, were it an actual metal, would of necessity be lighter than the transition metals. Perhaps the dwarves, who must surely have sought also the precious forms of beryl, discovered how to isolate beryllium metal, which, although brittle at room temperature, is stable, extremely light, and stronger and more elastic than steel. The beryllium might be alloyed with zirconium for workability.On the topic of Middle Earth metals, the golden ring of power, the "One Ring (To Rule Them All)", which could only be created or destroyed in the volcanic inferno of Mount Doom, must have been crafted of a gold alloy with an extremely high melting point. Candidates include boron and carbon, as well as the refractory metals tantalum, osmium, rhenium, or tungsten. Carbon, boron, and osmium, however, would darken considerably the alloy’s color. Perhaps the One Ring was made of a tungsten-rhenium-gold alloy? The forgers of the ring, if they had access to a cyclotron or ion accelerator (this is fantasy, after all!) may have added a little something extra—like radioactive technetium, itself a refractory metal in properties, or perhaps the group 11 transactinon provisonally named unununium. There had to have been something in the ring that so sickened and transformed its wearer . . . Various other fictitious metals (often characterized as "greenish") are staples of science fiction and fantasy, and are particularly prevalent in sword-and-sorcery computer games. The terrestrial greenish metals are ruthenium and, to a lesser extent, iridium.