Aluminum started as one of the world’s most expensive materials because it was difficult to refine—even though it made up 8 percent of the world’s crust. But eventually aluminum became one of the cheapest materials after methods of mass producing it were invented in the 1880s. It went from $1200 per kilogram down to a dollar in 50 years.
Metallurgist Grigory Raykhtsaum shows Smithsonian three different ways to test if something is solid gold: a color test, a thermal conductivity test, and a particle test. It’s all computerized now so all he has to do is scan the object to get a read on the color, zap it with an electrical current to measure the conductivity, and scrape a bit off to have it analyzed in a powerful microscope.
Turn it up to 8K if you can (you can’t), because this truly awesome video of master bladesmith Tony Swatton working on a Roman Gladius Sword made from damascus steel is a treat to watch. Damascus steel is basically art in a material as the layers get built, this sword is especially awesome because it combines a 93-layer damascus technique in the blade with a twisted grip.
Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of banging and hammering and mashing and even torching involved in making a steel pan drum but watching it all come together and to see flat steel get shaped in the most irregular pounding way to create the most perfect sounding notes for each section is pretty damn awesome. I couldn’t turn my ears away.
No, that’s not a sponge. It’s a piece of metal that’s light enough to float. Researchers at New York University, who invented the substance, say it’s also strong enough to build boats with.
There is probably some negotiation with the Earth’s magnetic poles or some sort of magic going on here because somehow this guy is able to make a cube inside a cube inside a cube from a metal block.