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What determines what "earth" is?

  • We know it's not rocks because nobody ever able to work it on metals (until Toph escaped the metal cage and locked the two bounty hunters in it) nor can anyone use it on platinum even during Korra's time.

  • Lavabending is a thing, so we know it's not limited to solids.

  • We also know it doesn't actually needs to be from Earth as Toph was able to bend a space rock.

  • We know it's not even limited to minerals as Bumi was able to bend sugar.

So, what is the defining feature that allows an Earthbender to bend a thing?

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    The whole thing is based on magic, so it's whatever the magic defines as acceptable. I guess if you were a scientist living in the Avatarverse, you could write a hundred papers on this subject.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 10:54
  • Sandbenders. Swamp mudbenders.
    – jo1storm
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 13:42
  • 1
    @Valorum neither meteorites nor jennamite are earth based, as meteorites are literally from space and jennamite is made of sugar
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 1:16
  • 6
    As an aside, metal bending works not by bending metal directly, but earth impurities in it, which is why in Korra platinum can't be bend, since it doesn't have any impurities. (No clue on the science here). Aside from that, I'm fairly certain that bending focuses more on the conceptual aspect of what an element includes than any scientific definition. For example, lightning doesn't have much to do with fire physically, aside from being plasma, but it's considered cold fire, so it works for them. Same as water and healing, or air and spirit projection.
    – kenod
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:59
  • 5
    And that's why IRL people stopped dividing world by those classical elements: it's hard to define which is which.
    – user28434
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 22:24

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