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Ancient Swords Made of Carbon Nanotubes 293

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the built-to-last dept.
brian0918 writes "Nature reports that researchers at Dresden University believe that sabres from Damascus dating back to 900 AD were formed with help from carbon nanotubes. From the article: 'Sabres from Damascus are made from a type of steel called wootz. But the secret of the swords' manufacture was lost in the eighteenth century.' At high temperatures, impurities in the metal 'could have catalyzed the growth of nanotubes from carbon in the burning wood and leaves used to make the wootz, Paufler suggests. These tubes could then have filled with cementite to produce the wires in the patterned blades, he says.'"
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Ancient Swords Made of Carbon Nanotubes

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  • by RelliK (4466) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:19PM (#16878940)
    So swords are a series of tubes too?
    • by gijoel (628142) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:08PM (#16879336)
      No, this means that the internet is far older than we thought.
    • Re:interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nanopolitan (937120) on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:11AM (#16880828) Homepage Journal

      Jokes apart, there is considerable research that has gone into Wootz steel produced in India, and its special properties (reported in the Nature story). My colleague, Prof. Ranganathan (in collaboration with archeometallurgy researcher Dr. Sharada Srinivasan) has written a short article [ernet.in] as well as a book (a pre-publication version is available for free: text [ernet.in] and figures [ernet.in]).

      Coming back to the story about the German researcher's suggestion (speculation?) that carbon nanotubes might have been present in Damascus steels, count me among the skeptics. The presence of nano-scale microstructures is a puzzle that was solved quite sometime ago: they are created when hot and cold steel is bashed repeatedly for producing swords. The nanoscale structure is also the reason for its ultra high strength. The presence of nanowires of carbon rich cementite is thus not a 'new' finding.

      Finally, to my knowledge, carbon nanotubes have been made only under extremely special circumstances (which also explains why their mass production -- for use, for example, in steels for ship-building -- is still a dream). It's extremely unlikely that the 'ordinary' atmosphere under which Wootz was made would have yielded nanotubes.

      Bottomline: Do we need carbon nanotubes to really explain why Damascus swords made with Wootz steel are so special? Use Occam's razor (or, for that matter, the Damascus swords themselves).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by el_womble (779715)
        Lost technologies always make me think of patents. If the blacksmith at the time had patented his technique (not that it was an option), we would probably still have it today.

        I just get the feeling that this amazing skill would have been a guarded secret, probably held by people who couldn't write effectively (if they understoof the chemistry at all, or weather it would have just been a recipe) and passed down through an apprentice. Which was all very well and good until there was a little too much competit
  • wootz? (Score:4, Funny)

    by 0racle (667029) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:20PM (#16878950)
    Look, this isn't really a 'mad loot' or 'MASSIVE DAMAGE' moment so please, so try to speak and write proper English.
  • Wootz? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pedantic bore (740196) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:20PM (#16878952)
    I knew about the special properties of Damascus steel -- there have been many theories about the source of its strength and ability to hold an edge.

    But I didn't know it was called "wootz". That's almost too good to be true. Next we'll find out the it's made of pwned ore.

    • Re:Wootz? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cheapy (809643) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:29PM (#16879044)
      "What have you been doing slave?"
      "Pwning ore sire!"
    • Re:Wootz? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Feyr (449684) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:31PM (#16879068) Journal
      it might not be "wrong" to say it was lost, but it's not entirely right either. i remember a few years ago some engineer had replicated the process and was trying to streamline it for commercial production (it required something like 10 highly involved and time consuming steps).

      wish i could find that article now
      • Re:Wootz? (Score:5, Informative)

        by user24 (854467) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:33PM (#16879520) Homepage
        you can buy damascus steel no problem, but the -original- technique was lost. Today there are several techniques, from lazer etching to acid etching (both imo cheating) to folding different types of steel together in the forge to produce effects like this: http://www.knifekits.com/store/images/steel/kkdam_ random_sheet.jpg [knifekits.com]
        • by Feyr (449684)
          no the article im thinking about claimed to have replicated, or close enough, the original process. laser etching isn't that involved :)
        • Re:Wootz? (Score:5, Informative)

          by I Like Pudding (323363) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:36AM (#16880356)
          You're a bit confused here. First off, Damascus steel can refer to two types of metal: pattern-welded and wootz. The folded type is pattern-welded; any asshole can make this. You just take a couple of different ores, fold them together a few times and you end up with patterns. The acid or laser or whatever bath is simply used to make the finished sword look better. It doesn't really change the chemical or mechanical makeup of the sword (ie dunking Herbert Q. Orcslayer in acid will never turn it into Damascus).

          Wootz is an entirely different animal. The technique was lost because it depended upon certain ores with trace impurities which dried up in the 1700s or so. The carbon would clump together which formed the distinctive banding.

          Summary: pattern-welded = 2 different ores folded in alternating layers form a pattern, wootz = forging process and chemical composition of ore results in macroscopic pattern-forming carbon lamellae
          • Re:Wootz? (Score:5, Informative)

            by iq in binary (305246) <iq_in_binary AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:39AM (#16880666) Homepage
            Just an aside, as someone with a little history in metallurgy:

            Pattern-Welded is actually a weaker sum of the metals that went into it's production. Molecular cohesion just does not happen, the metals aren't being smelted or wrought together in a way that is conducive to improving the strength of iron. No matter if it's 2 steels being sandwiched (which is basically the process used when going for aesthetics alone) or even if it's a tool steel being etched by laser or in an acid bath; which is also done.

            Damascene steel on the other hand, is extremely strong. It can hold an edge while still maintaining flexibility. The silica content as well as the amount of tungsten present in the sand from which the iron was extracted is a synergistic combination. Silica providing flexibility (I'm hacking a metallurgical textbook in half to get where I'm going, forgive me), with the tungsten giving the steel a little UMMF that none other had at the time--bands of tungsten carbide. In itself completely inflexible but present as it is in most blades it actually is given alot of room to move.....by the silica.

            Similar qualities are present in the tungsten rich sands of some Japanese waters. However not in the same manner, the Japanese had an ingenious forging method, sometimes referred to as the 1000-leaf method by those speaking of it in English.

            REAL Damascus steel is still legendary not only among sword and knive enthusiasts, but amont metallurgists as well. It is for all intensive purposes a wonder-metal, even by today's standards. In today's day of Titanium, Monel, Inconel and Carpenter-20, Damascus is still something people in the field whistle about.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dbIII (701233)

              someone with a little history in metallurgy ... Molecular cohesion just does not happen

              You just revealed how little - back when I was a metallugist we called them crystals, grains, unit cells all kinds of things but molecules don't make sense in that metallic context, and things can be joined together by forge welding.

              As for it being a magical wonder metal - well it was a way of getting a very good material out of two crappy ones that is an example given to students but don't get all mystical on us. Bands

            • Correction. (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Medievalist (16032)

              Just an aside, as someone with a little history in metallurgy:

              My own experience is empirical, as you might guess from my username. I know a fair number of smiths of various kinds. I have a small forge and foundry myself, though I haven't got a trip-hammer so I don't attempt pattern-welding.

              Pattern-Welded is actually a weaker sum of the metals that went into it's production.

              False. I have been present personally during demonstrations which included creating and testing pattern-welded blades. Comparisons

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LarryLong (899387)
      From TFA: "Their blades bear a banded pattern thought to have been created as the sword was annealed and forged." That's actually incorrect. The pattern is in fact the ancient arabic translation of the word pwned!!, repeated over and over. (Also from TFA) "But his suggestion isn't necessarily rock solid." Does anybody else reckon this may not have even made Slashdot if it wasn't for the steel being called w00tz!??
  • by Crimsane (815761) <clarke@nullfs.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:20PM (#16878964) Homepage
    This, for instance, tells the story of old Damascan warriors that would run around slaying their enemies, and at each kill would shout a prayer of "W00Tz" to their ancient sword gods to thank them for their glorious victory.
  • by IAstudent (919232)
    but when do I get my Dragon's Tooth?
  • Piffle (Score:2, Insightful)

    Suggest is the word. I think the author was smokin' the wacky tabaccy when he came up with this one.

  • ... I've heard so far.

    From my understanding the steel was hammered into very very thin sheets- of approximate shape- and then bundled. 30 to 50 of these sheets were then dipped in an carbon-iron fluxed solution at high temperature which was then 'wicked' between the plates by capillary action. Cooled and drop forged by any number of techinques the steel was work hardened and quenched, and provided the best of both world- steel's strength and hardness (sharpness), and the raw iron's fibrous flexibility.

    As you know raw iron (no carbon) has packed fibres- you can see them as they rust away- but I have no idea if the fibres are that small...

    Anyway... interesting theory.
    • I've always had an unhealthy appreciation of pocket knives and have coveted one of these Boker Damascus steel models: https://www.bokerusa.com/images/1054DAMASCUS.jpg [bokerusa.com]. I just can't see dropping > $500 on a knife to strip wires and sharpen pencils.
    • by jmarkantes (663024) <jason@@@markantes...com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:41PM (#16879160)
      Maybe I'm mis-reading your post, but it sounds like you're thinking of pattern welding [wikipedia.org]. The true damascus steel was produced in a different way from pattern welding. Because the of the similar appearance of the two steels, pattern welded blades are just called damascus steel nowadays.
      • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:46AM (#16880402)
        Either that, or he's confused about basic smithing. The basic idea behind a sword is that you beat the shit out of the edge while it's cooling to form hard, brittle martensite while the rest of the body forms as soft pearlite to avoid cracking. Then there's the L6 bainite supersword [wordpress.com], which is just nuts.
        • In fact, your explanation of the process is a tad wrong... here comes an explanation closer to reality

          For simple carbon steels, beating the shit out of the edge just gives it its basic shape (it will be refined later at the polish stage). The formation of bainite, martensite and pearlite is caused by the cooling rate. Thus they come from the quenching and subsequent tempering of the blade. The tempering is mainly there to relieve the internal stresses caused by the structure reorganisation triggerred by the quench (and reduce the hardness by a few Rockwell points). Basically (very simplified), a fast cooling rate will give you pearlite while a slower cooling rate will give you martensite and if you keep it a long time at the correct temperature, you'll end up with bainite.

          A prime example of that concept is the way japanese swords are made (oversimplified once more, as this is not a smithing forum).
          After you've given a basic edge shape to the blade, you apply clay on the edge (and a bit on the spine, too) then you bring the whole blade to non-magnetic temperature and you quench it. Three things can happen at that point:

          1. the blade curves towards the back (due to the different cooling rates) and the crystalline structure changes (martensite and friends under the clay, pearlite where there is no clay)
          2. the blade curves towards the edge (can happen with 5160 quenched in oil), it's a miss
          3. the blade cracks due to the stress (you used the wrong quenching medium for your alloy or heated the blade too much)
          If the blade survived, you can then temper it by bringing it back to a certain temperature (depending on the alloy) so the internal stresses are relieved and the surface crystalline structure can change a bit too (if the temp is in the correct range). After that, the smith gives the a very rough polish before sending it to a real polisher.

          I do agree about the L6 bainite swords by HC, they are amazing ;) L6 in itself is just a tooling alloy (used for saw blades, IIRC), the properties of the L6 swords come from the controlled temperatures of the salt baths used by Howard. He is keeping the blades at a very precise temperature range for a certain amount of time to maximise the reorganisation of the crystalline structure to bainite. I don't haved the temperature graphs for various structures handy, but they're quite easy to find on the web ;)

  • Katana comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ekhymosis (949557) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:27PM (#16879028) Homepage
    Since the secret of manufacturing was lost in the 18th century, it would make sense that they were still made during 1500-1600. How would their properties in manufacturing compare to the folding method of the Japanese katana? Would the nanotubes be present in the katana as well, or was this unique to Damascus?
    • Re:Katana comparison (Score:5, Informative)

      by bladesjester (774793) <.moc.daehsgnillohsemaj. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:54PM (#16879232) Homepage Journal
      *puts on his swordsman and apprentice blacksmith hats, looking funny for wearing both at the same time*

      Most Japanese swords created before higher quality iron began being imported in large quantities from other countries were made from volcanic black sand (which is high in iron oxide). The sand was smelted with rice stalks and the resulting block of iron was broken into pieces and sorted by color (carbon content).

      These different carbon content metals were formed into billets and used to make the different parts of the blade since katana blades were not traditionally made in one piece. They were usually made in anything from two pieces (core/edge and outer casing) to five pieces (back ridge, both sides, core, and edge - in this case usually made of harder iron recycled from old pots) with some being made in even more pieces.

      Incidentally, this is also what caused them to be curved since the different metals cooled at different temps. Unfortunately, it also meant that tempering the sword was a very delicate time because if the sword had any non-minor defects or was cooled improperly, the blade would literally rend itself apart.

      So, to answer your question, they were two completely different processes.
      • I was just looking around on ye olde interwebbe for someone knowledgeable on knives and techniques for forging them- and I think I might have stumbled across the right person ;)

        I was given a knife as a gift for helping someone out (he's a Blacksmith and made it for me ^^ ), and he set me the challenge of finding out what was special about the material in the blade.

        I suspect it may be Damascus steel or a related technique........... the pattern in the steel resembles the type of pattern I've seen in th
        • Re:Katana comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bladesjester (774793) <.moc.daehsgnillohsemaj. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:35PM (#16879536) Homepage Journal
          From the photo, it does indeed look like the metal in the blade has been folded (damasced). That may or may not be the answer he's looking for. I can say that, from the up close shot, the patterning is pretty.

          My master would be a better judge than I am. He's also a swordsman. One of us is better at blacksmithing (He did it professionally for quite some time and used to teach at a school) and the other is generally a better swordsman (though he'd say that was him, we both know better).

          I started learning to work steel because I wanted to make my own weapons (I've trained martially since I was about 6 and got my first sword at 10). Unfortunately, things happened which caused me to stop that pursuit for the moment.

          While I was there, I got to use a type of forge setup which is basically only found in a few places in the world and got to meet a lot of interesting people including a master gunsmith whose work is in the Smithsonian. It was a real trip.
          • That should be enough to earn me the secondary reward (I was promised some sort of alcoholic beverage * 6 if I got the answer from somewhere)

            I was going to thank you in words, but the good karma points got there first.

            Thanks! :D
            • Have a drink for me, and thank your friend for the knife. A good one is worth more than you pay for it (so says the guy whose life has hinged on one a time or two heh)
          • by pipingguy (566974) *
            Unfortunately, things happened which caused me to stop that pursuit for the moment.

            Seriously nicked yourself while shaving with a "blade"?
            • Actually it was a mixture of getting way too busy and then graduating from college (the forge was about 20 miles or so from campus)
        • by fotbr (855184)
          While its hard to tell from that angle without more of the blade being in focus, it *looks* like it might be what's referred to as "cable damascus" or "wire damascus".

          Take chunk of steel cable, weld ends to keep it together. Heat, flux, and heat to welding temp, forge into billet (twisting while heated but before forge-welding to tighten up pattern if you'd like). Forge billet into blade.
          • by fotbr (855184)
            Should mention I'm not a swordsman and not really much of a blacksmith to be honest -- though I do enjoy 'smithing I haven't had as much time as I'd like to devote to that hobby.

            I'm basing my guess on examples I've seen, and descriptions and photos from Jim Hrisoulas' books. If you're interested in knife and swordmaking, I'd highly recommend his books, if you can find them (amazon has the first of his, the others are backordered, STILL)
      • Incidentally, this is also what caused them to be curved since the different metals cooled at different temps.

        That's odd - the processes I've seen put the curve in before the cooling. The way I understand it, the curve is there to aid quick draws.

        • Partially right on the curve being put in beforehand. After it was learned that the way the blade was made caused it to curve when cooled, the smiths decided to control the amount of curve, so yes they were curved somewhat before cooling, but the cooling process itself also curves the blade (with the piecewise swords. it doesn't happen with modern ones) because of the way the swords were made.

          In fact, different smiths often had different amounts of curve that they put in the blade.
      • It's still folding that gives these swords their properties. Katana's, Tanto's etc. are all made by folding iron/steel multiple times in a foundry.

        Ultimately, the additives are what create the specific type of "carbon-alloy" that give each of these sword generations their notable properties.

      • by snowwrestler (896305) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:53AM (#16880742)
        While later Japanese swords were made by forging different metals together, very early swords were not--they were forged from a solid piece of steel. The steel was beaten flat and folded over itself several times, but it was not to impart mechanical qualities--it was to mix the carbon evenly throughout the impure metal. (Later this was accomplished through better steel manufacturing, so the folding was replaced by the multi-part welding of of different alloys as described.)

        Once the sword was shaped it was quenched. However since they wanted different properties on the edge vs. the spine, they needed to cool the different parts at different rates. This was accomplished by painting the sword with varying thicknesses of clay--thick on the back for a slow quench (resulting in soft but springy steel) and thin on the edge for a fast quench (resulting in hard but brittle martensite). This differential cooling also caused some of the curvature. It also allowed a sword maker to impart a "signature" of sorts, by painting patterns into the clay. This manifests itself in the subtle wavy reflective pattern seen along the cutting edge of many katanas, called the hamon.

        Finally to address the GP, the original pattern that is now called Damascus had nothing to do with folding the blade. If you look at an original Damascus blade the pattern is not alligned to the edge but runs throughout the blade. It has more to do with the steel composition and how it was forged.

        Sources for more info:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Katana&o ldid=69002423 [wikipedia.org]
        http://www.mines.edu/Academic/met/pe/faculty/ [mines.edu] eberhart/classes/down_loads/damascus.pdf (PDF)
    • Re:Katana comparison (Score:5, Informative)

      by El Torico (732160) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:00PM (#16879278)
      One thing that I noticed on the wiki entry on Wootz steel was the presence of tungsten and vanadium (which is used in modern day steel alloys, as well as chromium). As far as I know, the steel used in Japanese swords ("white") steel didn't have the same impurities, although "blue" steel does.

      Again, I only have a passing knowledge of this. Interestingly, blue and white steels are used in modern Japanese woodworking chisels and planes. Here's are brief explanation of the types of steel used - http://www.woodworking-forum.com/woodworking/White _and_Blue_Japanese_Steel_936937.html [woodworking-forum.com].
    • I was going to post "DUURRRR ITS NOT AS GOOD AS A KATANA AM I RITE" but you already mentioned them, and now the nerd rage of the Japanophiles will begin anyway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by YetAnotherBob (988800)
      The folding and reforging technique the Japanese masters used produced a blade similar to what the imediate poster called out, but, that is not a true Damascus steel. It is really just a lot of welded razors. It is very sharp, but has a different pattern, waves, not speckles, and is not as strong as a true Damascus steel blade. That is why museums pay a sizable fortune for a real Damascus Steel blade. The Japanese blades are still made, a few a year. The Damascus blades are not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nacturation (646836)
      This reminds me of the Machine Gun vs. Katana [youtube.com] video. Be sure to watch past the 1 minute mark where it goes slow-motion, round by round of each impact including some rounds that were split in half by the katana edge.
       
  • Stephenson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by radarsat1 (786772) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:09PM (#16879344) Homepage
    Neal Stephenson mentions this in the Baroque Cycle. He talks about how the little eggs of steel were forged in India and hammered out to make watered steel, then sold to the asian market. I assume he is talking about the same thing? I believe he even used the word "wootz", but I can't recall.
  • by the Gray Mouser (1013773) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:11PM (#16879354)
    By these guys [ntsource.com]?

    Or has their worked been made suspect or not confirmed?
  • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by YetAnotherBob (988800) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:13PM (#16879368)
    Scientific American reported over a year ago that a metallurgist and a blacksmith managed to reproduce Damascus steel. The secret was in the Wootz. Wootz is a lump of iron that was produced at the mine, then exported. The folks in India didn't know how to make it into Damascus steel, the folks in Damascus did, but the process only worked with a wootz from one particular mine in India. The mine in India played out several hundred years ago. That's why the secret died, after being a state secret for over 1000 years. It stopped working.

    According to the team SA reported on, the secret is in a small amount of molybdenum. the process of manufacture used up to 50 forgings, and used acids to etch designs into the blade. The forgings cause microscopically fine strands of molybdenum to be located throughout the steel, breaking up the crystaline structure, and with it the fracture points. This also caused the famous 'watermarks' that all true Damascus steel has.

    As some nanotubes result from almost any coking process, there would be nanotubes in there, (vanishingly small quantities), but the strength would come from other things.

    I understand that it is now possible to buy a new Damascus steel sword again, but the price is very high. (it always was.) A flying car might be cheaper.
  • by djmurdoch (306849) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:13PM (#16879370)
    The making of Damascus steel was lost around 1750, but rediscovered around 2000. There's a nice article on the rediscovery [ntsource.com] referenced from one of the wikipedia pages.
    • by SeaFox (739806)
      I'm more interested in how we managed to lose the method in 1750 when we had managed to keep track of it so long up to that point. I mean, 1750 isn't that long ago. You'd think we could keep track of records better in that time period than, say, the dark ages.
  • by Kent Simon (760127) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:18PM (#16879406) Homepage
    *Makes a mental note of this word for the next scrabble game*
  • by naasking (94116) <naasking @ g m a il.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:38PM (#16879558) Homepage
    Scientific American published the secret of Damascus steel back in 2000:

    http://www.mines.edu/Academic/met/pe/faculty/eberh art/classes/down_loads/damascus.pdf [mines.edu]

    As with most things in material science, the "secret" came down to the impurities.

    The article concludes that there was never a "lost technique", it was merely a fluke that the source of their iron contained just the right type of impurities in the right amounts, to result in the incredible Damascus steel. Once that source was exhausted, the "technique" no longer seemed to work, and the "secret" was henceforth considered lost.
  • Not really news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Apakosis (1028422)
    In the article, John Verhoeven is given a small amount of space to relate his experiences with Wootz. As a matter of fact, both he and Al Pendray, a master Bladesmith from Florida, succeeded in rediscovering the methodology for creating Wootz "cakes," or ingots, that are in turn forged into blades. I had the pleasure of talking with Mr Pendray after a demonstration at the ABANA Conference in St Louis a number of years ago. He brought samples of the Wootz cakes and they are nothing like what you'd expect fro
  • Cutting a sword (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:54PM (#16879682) Journal
    Maybe it's time for MythBusters to RE-revisit cutting a sword with a sword [televizzle.org]...
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:22PM (#16879868) Journal
    Sometimes Scientific American is just like /. - dupes and all.

    Back in the 70's SA ran a similar article on Damascus steel. The authors (iircc, one was from Stanford) attributed the steel's property both to the impurities which this article talks about and to the heating/cooling cycles that gave the steel its strength. The article referenced an ancient blacksmith's poem that described the various colors the steel had to take as it was heated and cooled. Since the poet didn't have a Pantone color palette available, he compared the colors to the sun and moon at various times of the day and year. Heaven help the color-blind or weak memoried blacksmith.

    One last point that I remember from the article was a discussion of the quenching fluids. For the final quenching, the poem describes killing a slave by driving the steel into his chest. The authors, noting the current shortage of slaves, concluded that a saline solution held at 98 degrees Fahrenheit was the salient factor in the quenching fluid.
  • aha! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:22PM (#16879870)
    I was wondering where the tem 'w00t' came from, lol. Obviously they took that from the Damascans as well as the Carbon swords from the Phantasy Star series on good old Sega Genesis. Must be the basis for a +1 sword in D&D too. So what's Drizzt Du Erden's +5 scimitar based on in reality you ask? Well that's simple, it's a carbon nanotube enhanced, antimatter bladed, quantum slash enhanced, electric current carrying, Ruby on Rails using blade :)
  • Hard to believe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by newt0311 (973957) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:32PM (#16879924)
    I find it hard to believe that a normal furnace is hot enough to produce carbon nanotubes. Currently CNTs have to be manufactured using plasma torches. in a normal furnace, there will be too many defects in the CNTs for them to be of any use.
  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:48AM (#16882388)
    I think Verhoeven got it right. Read all about it at http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9809/Verhoeve n-9809.html [tms.org].
  • Ren Faires (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Avatar8 (748465) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:52AM (#16884796)
    All I can say is that the scientists should get out more. Daniel Watson of www.angelsword.com has been making "technowootz" swords for years. Angel Sword visits numerous large Renaissance Faires around the country. I own two blades of his, and I can assure you, they're the strongest material I'll likely ever see in my lifetime.

    I think the only news here is that "scientists apply the term 'nanotubes' to an ancient process that was rediscovered several decades ago."

    I got a kick out of Daniel as I asked about the no-breakage/replacement guarantee.

    Me: So if Bubba Redneck ticks me off, I hack into his truck's engine block and the blade breaks, you'll replace it?
    Daniel: I doubt it would break, but if it does, yeah, we'll replace it.

    I guess it's comforting that science and the media confirms something we Ren Faire geeks have known for years: ancient science is better, and modern science is only rediscovering what has been lost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seraphim_72 (622457)
      Daniel Watson is a hack and a charlatan. Got to watch him fumble in front of a guy with a PhD in metallurgy. "No Sir, you dont understand blades. No Mr Watson, you don't understand metal, at all." The guy imports what he sells from mexico. His people just polish it up and add the fittings. He is well know for this in the Renfaire circuit. We got him punted from the MN RenFest because of his lousy product and the inhumane way he treats his "apprentices". His blades are hard and brittle. Put one of those in a

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