Something about the rust virus (or whatever it's called - I can't remember) doesn't quite make sense to me. I'm probably just forgetting some detail or I missed some explanation at one point.

Obviously it can pass from metal to metal (to clear up the obvious).

Somehow it can also pass via human tissue/fluid I guess? One of the miners on the amber planet complains about his knee. Later it's discovered that the virus completely ate through pins in his leg from a previous injury/medical procedure.
I remember someone in the show describes the virus as able to be passed through contact. I assumed they meant metal-to-metal contact, but unless this guy sustained an injury causing him to get stabbed inside his knee all the way to the pins, I have to assume it passed through his tissue/blood or something.

I haven't been able to find a lot on this, other than the fact that the Wikipedia says

"it is discovered the metal infection spreads through human contact"

He later falls aboard the resolute after all of the pins are "eaten", leaving a patch of blood (and virus?) on the floor. I feel like I can assume that the virus can at least be transmitted though blood as well, which could make sense, if the miner happened to cut his leg or something (and he does ask for a bandage from Judy).

Assuming the virus can be transferred via blood/human contact, should the colonists not be more concerned with the future of the Resolute? If the virus still exists in the miner, it would be an enormous risk.
A cure using ammonia is discovered later, but it's not like you can just pump ammonia through someone to kill this thing...without killing them anyhow.
The whole human transmission vector aspect seems to be forgotten after conveniently infecting the Resolute. But for all I know the miner got shot out of an airlock in the background of a scene before touching anyone and none of it matters anymore...

My main question is: How does this thing spread?
Which poses a side question: Why is colonist-to-colonist transmission not a bigger concern, given that it appears to not need metal to be transferred and someone is (or was?) infected?

Granted, I have yet to finish E10, but this rust virus plotline appears to be largely over by this point (at least to the point of my question).

2 Answers 2


My assumption for this was that the miner had consumed some water with the rust virus, which survived long enough to encounter his pins. Devouring the pins caused enough damage to the surounding tissue to break through the skin.

This has its own issues, as anyone who had consumed the water and then peed after being transferred to the ship, would likely spread at least a few active cells into the waste recycling system.


"Virus" is a loose description.

It's a more stable crystalline structure of iron (IIRC). When it comes into contact with other iron, it causes it to reform into this new structure.

Perhaps very small amounts of the iron crystal can trigger this (perhaps much smaller than a typical virus). If so, it could be ingested, passed through the bloodstream, or even absorbed through the skin.

FWIW, there is some scientific basis to the general concept. For example, there are several structures/phases of ice. Though AFAIK nothing similar to abnormal crystalline structures "contaminating" materials (except for fiction like Cat's Cradle).

  • 1
    Google "aluminum and mercury" or "aluminum galium". I think the episode was inspired by those.
    – jo1storm
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 9:40

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