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Old 09-10-2006, 03:57 PM
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: California
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How could modern tech improve on the sword?

Say you want to make a sword of the cutting variety (a samurai sword as opposed to a fencing "stabbing" sword). How could modern technology improve on it? As much as delicately folded steel is nice, we must have come up with better cutting materials in the day and age.

I imagine sort of nanotech sword that is composed of molecule thick layers set at a wedge like this:


And that every time you cut an object the outer most level would slough off as layers of graphite do leaving the blade perpetually and perfectly sharp.

I, of course, long for a lightsabre but I am more curious in products that can be produced today.
Old 09-10-2006, 04:27 PM
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I can't vouch for what indefinable qualities folded-steel swords by master swordsmiths might have. But modern steel is extremely consistant, homogenous, and dependable in it's properties. Far less likely to crack or shatter. A modern machine tool shop can turn out better swords than 99.9% of all the swordsmiths who ever lived. So the quality of your average foot-soldier's plain duty sword would be far greater. Perhaps less difference in quality at the absolute top end of the spectrum, where swords were custom crafted for one particular person with special attention to minute differences in balance, length, weight and stiffness.

Special alloys for the bit that forms the edge would be an improvement over hand-produced carbon steel: harder but less brittle, allowing the sword to retain it's sharpness much better. I don't think monomolecular bits are in the offing anytime soon though.

You could alternately produce a sword that's very light for it's size (aluminum or titanium) or extremely dense (platinum/iridium alloy), depending on which would be preferable for the intended purpose.
Old 09-10-2006, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Muad'Dib
And that every time you cut an object the outer most level would slough off as layers of graphite do leaving the blade perpetually and perfectly sharp.
That's what depleted uranium does. That's why they use it for tank ammo: it's self-sharpening as it ploughs through armor.
Old 09-10-2006, 04:51 PM
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Similar thread

Is there any material superior to steel for making a sword blade?
Old 09-10-2006, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Southern North
Posts: 1,383
Originally Posted by Muad'Dib
How could modern tech improve on the sword?
By reforging the metal into a gun.

If for some impractical reason you really want to keep it in a sword shape, you don't have to look much farther than any modern combat swords (as opposed to display swords). Modern alloys are lighter and springier than any metals used in history.
Old 09-10-2006, 05:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Sounds like a good question to ask a modern swordsmith. Let's ask one.

Old 09-10-2006, 07:46 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 3,574
Originally Posted by Can Handle the Truth
That's what depleted uranium does. That's why they use it for tank ammo: it's self-sharpening as it ploughs through armor.
This was quite surprising to me, I had always thought the benefit of depleted uranium for ammunition was just it's very high density, creating greater force for the acceleration of a projectile.
Wikipedia suggests that the process is somehow as you suggest, the bullet fractures upon impact, creating a newly-sharped bullets that penetrates more deeply.

Jane, on the other hand, has a slightly different take on how depleted uranium bullets have greater penetrative power: they partially melt upon impact:

I guess I don't see how the second method would help a modern ultra-sword, and I'm afraid the first method would cause, out of necessity, a much lower lifespan for a sword than you'd want, based on the quantity of bullet lost in the fracture.

What would the feasibility of a "monofiliament sword" of roleplaying game fame?

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