‘Electrically charged stones’ hoax sparks ‘Vibranium’ rumours

Vibranium is a fictional metal that features in Black Panther.
Vibranium is a fictional metal that features in Black Panther.

A viral video of “electrically charged stones” has gone viral on Twitter, sparking rumours that the fictional metal Vibranium is real.

The video, thought to be filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been viewed millions of times.

False claims that the material is actually Vibranium, popularised in recent years by the Black Panther movie franchise, are circulating on social media as a result.

So what’s behind the viral video and why can’t it be Vibranium?

Where did the ‘electrically charged stones’ video come from?

Twitter account @Africa_Archives shared a video of men handling a small rock that appeared to conduct electricity.

The video, captioned “Electrically charged stones discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, has been viewed more than 11 million times.

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A second video, posted by the same account, appears to show rocks sparking when touched together.

As a result, Twitter users began speculating that Vibranium is real and that the fictional state of Wakanda is located in the DRC.

One Twitter user said, “Yesterday fiction is today’s reality, vibranium is real,” while another said, “Vibranium wasn’t something that was made up… Hollywood just likes to dramatize the truth.”

What is Vibranium?

Vibranium is a fictional metal invented by Marvel Comics. It first appeared in a 1965 issue of Daredevil, while Wakandan Vibranium first appeared in a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four.

More recently, Vibranium appeared in the Black Panther movie, which is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

Vibranium absorbs nearby kinetic energy within itself, making it hard to destroy.

Black Panther Los Angeles Premiere - In pictures

Lupita Nyong'o (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Lupita Nyong'o (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Janella Monae (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Janella Monae (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Lupita Nyong'o (AFP/Getty Images)
Lupita Nyong'o (AFP/Getty Images)
Lupita Nyong'o (Getty Images)
Lupita Nyong'o (Getty Images)
Comic book legend Stan Lee creator of the
Comic book legend Stan Lee creator of the
David Oyelowo (AFP/Getty Images)
David Oyelowo (AFP/Getty Images)
Angela Bassett joined by her husband Courtney B. Vance, (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Angela Bassett joined by her husband Courtney B. Vance, (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o (Reuters)
Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o (Reuters)
Martin Freeman (Getty Images)
Martin Freeman (Getty Images)
Daniel Kaluuya (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Daniel Kaluuya (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Snoop Dog (AFP/Getty Images)
Snoop Dog (AFP/Getty Images)

What are the ‘electricity charged stones’ really?

If one thing’s for certain, they certainly aren’t Vibranium. The stones could be coltan or cobalt, which are both mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It’s hard to say exactly how the men appeared to make the rocks spark but Twitter users have shared their theories, involving hidden batteries or disguised soldering iron.

Science communicator Hank Green said: “I can’t [explain it] but I’m 99 per cent sure I can’t because it is a magic trick, not an electric rock.”

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