Jan 7Liked by Brian Potter

Lee Sauder of Rockbridge County VA actively produces and teaches how to produce blooms. He uses the output for his own work, and sells to other blacksmiths. He's also participated in historical research, including in the Sudan. His site includes videos, how-to guides and (of course) a gallery of his own work.


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Thanks for this treatment of a critically important element of modern life. As a high school history teacher I am anxious to integrate the history of technology into instruction, particularly anything that undermines the impression that my students generally subscribe to: that the consumer gadgetry of the last decade or so eclipses all previous technological achievements.

But, as a lifelong resident of southern California, your elaboration begs a tangential question. What was wrong with the steel that proved so woefully inadequate in the ‘remodeling’ of the San Onofre nuclear reactor/power plant? The facility operated successfully for decades before an extensive rehab effort was launched in the early 2000s. When the updated works went online the steel tubes began to corrode so quickly that the plant was shut-down -and ultimately mothballed - after 6 months. (The huge bill for the failed effort is still being paid.) At the time the problem was identified as inferior Chinese steel.

It is astonishing that the quality of available product apparently declined so dramatically in such a short time. Your outline of the development of steel making provides such a strong and dreary contrast. Any insight you might provide is most welcome. The powers-that-be have never been anxious to elaborate, but some of us remain curious.

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Can't wait for the second part when the fun begins.

OT Did you see the article in Science Advance about roman concrete? The researchers claim that they figured out this long lost secret.

"the Romans employed hot mixing, using quicklime in conjunction with, or instead of, slaked lime, to create an environment where high surface area aggregate-scale lime clasts are retained within the mortar matrix. Inspired by these findings, we propose that these macroscopic inclusions might serve as critical sources of reactive calcium for long-term pore and crack-filling or post-pozzolanic reactivity within the cementitious constructs. The subsequent development and testing of modern lime clast–containing cementitious mixtures demonstrate their self-healing potential"

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