Wired’s Blog has a nifty piece on the two millennia old Demascus steel process replete with quotes from a Nobel laureate and Neal Stephenson:
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.
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