Nanotech Used 2000 Years Ago

02008-01-14 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Nanotech Used 2000 Years Ago to Make History’s Sharpest Swords | Wired Science from Wired.com
Damascus swords — sharp enough to slice a falling piece of silk in half, strong enough to split stones without dulling — owe their legendary qualities to carbon nanotubes, says chemist and Nobel laureate Robert Curl.
The blades used so-called wootz steel, smelted with a technique developed 2000 years ago in India, where craftsmen added wood and other organic debris to their furnaces. The resulting carbon-laced steel, hard but flexible, was soon celebrated across the ancient world.
Perhaps because the tungsten-rich ores used to make wootz steel ran out, the making of Damascus blades stopped during the 18th century. The techniques vanished from metalsmith lore. Modern metallurgists tried again and again to recreate the blades, but without success. Then, a little more than a year ago, German scientists explained their difficulty: wootz steel was full of carbon nanotubes, a miracle material “discovered” in 1991. Some chemists argued that regular steel possesses these nanotubes, but Curl, speaking at the just-concluded Indian Science Congress, sides with the Germans.

(Via The Long Now Blog)

2 Comments

  1. steve

    Articles like this always make me wonder how much cool stuff we have forgotten, and what is awaiting “discovery.”

    Reply
  2. Carol

    So many civilizations flourished and then collapsed. we still bemoan the loss of the library at Alexandria. I wonder if anyone will be able to find any “Rosetta Stone” that allows them to decipher our disks and
    tapes and chips.

    Reply

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