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Ancient Steel-Making Secret
When two metallurgists at Standford University were trying to produce a "superplastic" metal they became interested in the secret of Damascus steel, the legendary material used by numerous warriors (воины) of the past, including Crusaders (крестоносцы). Its formula had been lost for generations.
Analyses of a new steel revealed properties almost identical to those they found in Damascus steel, although their own plastic steel had been produced by present-day methods.
The remarkable characteristics of Damascus steel became known to Europe when the Crusaders reached the Middle East in the 11th century. They discovered that swords (меч) of the metal could split (рассечь) a feather( перо) in air and at the same time retain their edge sharp through many battles.
The secrets of Damascus steel were known in many parts of the ancient world, especially in Persia, where some of the finest specimens were produced. For eight centuries the Arab sword makers kept the secret about their techniques and methods. And with the invention of firearms (огнестрельное оружие), the secret was lost and it was never fully rediscovered.
The two metallurgists carried out a lot of researches. When they realized that they might be close to the discovery of a new material, a sword fancier (знаток) , at one of their demonstrations, pointed out that Damascus steel, like their own product, was very rich in carbon. This led them to conduct a comparative analysis of their steel and
those of the ancient weapons. As a result, it was found that a basic requirement was a high carbon content. The two metallurgists believed it had to be from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, compared to only a part of 1 per cent in ordinary steel. Their research showed how to make steel of even greater hardness than Damascus steel.