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Re: Meteors and Swords

Poster: Jeanette Gugler <jgugler@mindspring.com>

At 15:42 04/15/98 -0400, Gene Bonar <gbonar@auspex.com> wrote:
>At 02:12 PM 4/15/98 -0400, Terry wrote:
>>I don't think speculation is out of line as long as the speculation and the
>>facts are kept in orderly piles. 
>>Actually, few are pure iron although they're closer to pure iron than would
>>be found on earth naturally. Most are a combination of iron and nickel with
>>some carbon common. Does anyone know how well iron-nickel does in a forge?
>Well this is what I get for pontificating outside of my specialty. <wry
>grin>  Rather than pure iron I should have said elemental iron, I guess.
>The point being that meteors don't fall into the atmosphere an amorphous
>blob of diverse elements, heat up and land a chuck of steel.  I think
>Stephan's question was if a chuck of steel form and landed on earth or more
>to the point Southern England it could ....
>>Being a geologist, I have no idea how much iron it takes to make a sword.
>>But one of my astronomy professors had a meteorite he was using as a door
>>stop that was a good 45#. Would that be enough? 
>45# would be enough to make several swords.  I've seen and touched
>meteorites, several large ones (none 45# though) that would be of
>sufficient size to make a sword.  None of them happened to be steel.  For
>the postulate to hold it would have to be steel, not an iron/nickel/carbon
>blob.  Those happen to be the elements (amongst others) that go into making
>steel, but I'm asking can the alloy be formed in the manner put forth, and
>if so is there ANY empirical data showing that such a chuck fell in
>Southern England or anywhere else.
This is where it's getting kinda interesting.  An area I've only begun
delving, so much I say is open to clarification by meteor scientists (I
know they aren't meteorologists, so what IS the correct specialty?) and
materials scientists.

Meteors are a combination of iron and nickel and carbon (or so says one who
has studied such).  How are the proportions different from more mundane
iron ores easily mined in the Middle Ages?  From neither the ground nor the
meteors would elemental iron be found. Making steel is a process of
removing unwanted 'impurities' (or some of them) and adding needed ones.
The various impurities and their proportions have a lot to do with the
final properties of the steel -- brittleness, flexibility, how well it
holds an edge, etc.  

So using the processes common in Roman England (we were in the iron age by
then) or, more to our interests, in 12th century England, how would two
swords made one from meteoric iron and one from common iron compare?

hm... (toddling off enumerating the books to look into in the morning)

Theodora von Schmetterlingswald		jgugler@mindspring.com
	Elvegast, Windmaster's Hill
Argent, a fess azure, ermined argent, 
between three pine trees couped sable and a butterfly azure.

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