Materials Science 101

I barely got my sword up in time to meet the Japanese blade that sliced the air on an arcing path towards me. I had no trouble believing that my opponent’s katana would continue along its trajectory, barely noticing the resistance of my body despite the several layers of aramid weave I wore as protection. 17th-century metal clashed against a proprietary mix of carbon, silica, and amorphous alloys. Tiny force sensors along the lengths of the cutting edges provided a complex readout on a large projected graph on the wall.

“Alright, I yield.” We both pulled off our helmets. He wasn’t even sweaty, damn him. I was just a researcher, not an experienced swordsman.

“We’re supposed to go to 100 strikes.”

“Yeah, I know. But we’ve got enough data. And look, it’s happening again.”

We peered at the modern sword under a magnifier; the web of stress fractures across the surface clearly showed the underlying pattern of nanotube composite.

“Makes you appreciate what you can accomplish with plain old steel, doesn’t it.”

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