The intricate mastery of Japanese swordmaking relies on a smith’s deep understanding of fire, metal, and techniques to control both. Each unique sword shimmers with thousands of layers from the folding of the metal, a work of art in steel. That steel, though, traditionally comes from an iron-rich sand full of impurities, pounded and blended by the smith. A smith then uses a secret mix of water, clay, ash, and other ingredients over the blade as they once again plunge the sword into fire to create a keen edge. Only when the blade glows a certain color is it quenched in water.
In the embers of an ancient winter day, a Swedish scout scrambles up the hill of snow-covered boulders, hurrying over the slippery ground between them along a narrow path. His panting breath trails after him until he stumbles through the castle gate gasping, “Vandals on the riverbank! Bandits to the east!”
The heavy palisade slams shut behind him as men rush to position along a glinting rock wall. From 150 feet above the valley floor, they watch as silhouettes begin scaling the boulders below. With a signal, arrows and stones rain down upon them, yet the marauders advance, dragging their weapons or clenching them in … » More …
Last August, shifting sands on a well-trafficked beach along Oahu’s west coast revealed 400-year-old carvings left behind by Hawaiian indigenous people. The 17 petroglyphs etched into the sandstone on Waianae Coast, and the stories they tell, had never been recorded. Without the right conditions, they may have remained hidden for years or centuries.
Crystals reflect the best of nature’s handiwork. With their atoms aligned in repeating 3D patterns, crystals can be as momentary as a snowflake or as common as the sodium chloride in table salt. They can sparkle on a finger, scatter rainbows across the room, or be grown on your kitchen table with a few ingredients from the hobby shop.
Some also possess unusual properties, such as quartz crystal’s ability to generate a tiny electrical current when pressure is applied. Known as the piezoelectric effect, this useful phenomenon helped inspire the rise of a global, multibillion dollar crystal growth industry.
Today, manmade crystals power an astonishing … » More …
Rahul Panat, an engineering professor at Washington State University’s Voiland College, and his colleagues Professor Indranath Dutta and graduate student Yeasir Arafat, recently demonstrated a significant advance in flexible electronics by showing that the metal indium, deposited as a thin film on a polymer substrate, can be stretched to twice its length without breaking—“a quantum improvement,” Panat says, over current methods.
In softball, success or failure happens when the ball meets the bat. The faster a batted ball travels, the greater the likelihood of a batter’s success. Softball bat manufacturers are using technology to create bats that hit the ball harder than ever-but not everyone is pleased with the results.
Recent advances in softball bat performance raised concerns with the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) that softball bats generating high batted ball speeds were giving individuals an unfair advantage in competition and creating safety problems, says Lloyd Smith, an associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.
With a new baby as inspiration, and an interdisciplinary team to help,
husband and wife Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose have set out to
solve the puzzle of how to imitate nature's growth of the human bone. » More ...