Amazing Kids! Magazine

In Everything from Scissors to Skyscrapers

By Enzo Monfre, Sci Tech Kids Columnist

 

 

There have been so many discoveries throughout history that have made an impact. Deciding what to write about was really a challenge for me. Recently, I made an episode for my show Exploration Nation about The Physics of Medieval Weapons.

We visited Angel Sword forge and met owner Dan Watson, a Master Swordsmith. He makes razor sharp steel swords by hand, but he also has an amazing collection of ancient medieval swords and weapons. Some of the swords were made of bronze and copper, a few were steel. His oldest steel sword, an English Broadsword is more than a 1000 years old! Many steel swords have been lost throughout history; they rust over time.

If you look around, steel is just about everywhere. The legs of my computer desk are made of steel, my pet hedgehog’s cage is made of steel, the car in my driveway is made of… you guessed it, steel. But steel doesn’t come out of thin air, it has to be made.

 

The History of Steel

During the 11th century B.C., blacksmiths, people who create objects from iron, discovered that iron can be improved.

First, they took a piece of iron and heated it over an extremely hot charcoal fire. The molecules of the crystal-like structure in iron, vibrated and moved apart. At the same time the fire added carbon molecules (from the charcoal) to fill in the spaces between the structures of the iron, making steel. This process hardens the metal.

The newly made piece of steel was pounded with a hammer into the desired shape. It was then put into a tank of cold water to cool and harden the steel.

Steel has a finer and sharper edge than iron and replaced bronze weapons in the Middle East, birthplace of the Iron Age.

 

High Tech Technology and Brutal Weapons

The forge I visited used most of the techniques that were used thousands of years ago.

The only difference is that the technology is more advanced, they use grinding tools to sharpen blades, a nitrogen chamber that freezes, then heats swords making the blades even stronger.

In medieval times technology moved so slowly that it took thousands of years just to make the handle for a sword. Yet today, a new cell phone comes out every year!

Today, steel is mass produced and is in everything from scissors to huge skyscrapers.

Steel used to be hard to come by, but now it is so common that you can’t enter a room without seeing it.