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And from Fark.com, the "Could a light sabre cut through adamantium" debate:
2005-03-18 10:45:52 AM Hookersville said:
Some history of Adamantium
Adamantium is a virtually indestructible man-made steel alloy which does not occur in nature and whose exact chemical composition is a United States government classified secret. Adamantium is not an element: its properties do not qualify it for any known space on the Periodic Table of Elements. Adamantium is a series of closely related compounds of iron created through a secret process discovered by the American metallurgist Dr, Myron MacLain.
MacLain began experimenting with the process that created Adamantium as a young scientist in the employ of the United States government in the early 1940s. Assigned to create a super-metal with which to build tanks, MacLain labored for month, experimenting with various iron alloys. One of his experiments utilized the rare meteoric ore now known as Wakandan Vibranium. He tried to fuse the Vibranium to the iron alloy numerous times without success. Then one night when he dozed off, some as yet unknown factor entered the process, and permitted the fusion to occur. Upon discovering his success, MacLain poured the molten metal into a disc-shaped mold. The disc, once solidified, has proven to be the most impervious object ever created on Earth. MacLain turned the disc over to the government and it was given to Captain America to use as his shield. Neither MacLain nor anyone else has ever been able to discover what was the x-factor that entered the process, or has been able to fuse Vibranium with another metal. (The unknown iron-Vibranium alloy of which the shield is composed resembles True Adamantium, although Adamantium itself contains no Vibranium,)
Over the following decades MacLain experimented, attempting to duplicate the process that create the shield. Finally, in recent years, he succeeded in developing the process by which the substance known as True Adamantium is created. True Adamantium is nearly as strong as Captain America's shield, and is, for all practical purpose, indestructible. The degree of impermeability varies directly with the thickness of the Adamantium. A direct blow from Thor's hammer, conveyed with the thunder god's full strength, will slightly dent a solid cylinder of True Adamantium. A sufficient mass of Adamantium could survive a direct hit from a nuclear weapon.
Adamantium is created through the mixing of certain metals whose composition is a United States government secret. For eight minutes after the metals are mixed, the Adamantium can be molded into a particular shape as long as it is kept at a temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (815.6 Celsius) After this brief period the process of creating Adamantium is completed. The extremely stable molecular structure of the Adamantium prevents it from being molded further, even if the temperature remains high enough to keep it in liquefied form. Only a device celled a Molecular Rearranger can alter the form of hardened Adamantium.
Some thoughts on Light Sabers
According to astrophysicist Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich, a rapidly spinning conductor will cause the creation of virtual particle radiation at its surface. Particle production is controlled by the charge, angular velocity (of rotation) and radius of this charged conductor.
If we imagine a rod shaped charged field of atomic-scale cross-section, which is superconducting and rotating at near-lightspeed, then charge regulation becomes the control for the particle emission type and quantity. Such charged fields would tend to repel one-another (if they are of like polarity), which means the blades would BLOCK one another. NOTE: a sabre would have to be built carefully and tuned correctly! A badly adjusted sabre would subject its user (and everyone in range) with considerable amounts of gamma radiation!.
The glow of the sabre blade consists of virtual-photons energised by the rotating field into real photons ... virtual light make real! The opaque 'thumb-thick' blade shape may be a swirl of ionised atmospheric particles (the AIR) drawn in and swirling about the core. When you IONISE a gas, you actually have a PLASMA (as it is meant by terrestrial physics) ... and this would glow JUST LIKE A FLUORESCENT TUBE (which is ALSO a plasma!) ... BUT this thumb-thick plasma zone is merely a by-product ... the REAL cutting is performed by minuscule core of the true blade ... leaving almost microscopically thin cuts. (The blade would STILL glow fiercely in even in a vacuum, as it throws off 'virtual photons - made real' ... but the thumb-thick core may not be visible.)
Such a tight rapidly spinning charged superconducting field would rend (tear) through most matter by stripping off electrons which bind atoms together. The ionized matter about the 'cut', as well as field-excited atomic movement in the localized area of the 'cut', would mimic great point-of-contact heat. A wound to a soft-tissue organic being would appear to be a microscopically thin BURN - and such a wound would usually tend to be cauterized (depending on how slowly the blade passed through - a large blood vessel cut too quickly may not be sufficiently 'burned' to cauterize). Dense metals which have loosely bound electrons (which are free to wander about their lattice structure) would be more resistant to cutting. The 'atom stripping' effect would take a little longer to cut through, because such materials have more electrons 'to spare' before their lattice structure becomes 'torn'.
Metals are also more highly conductive, and the localized 'heat' effects are minimized because the heat is carried away and dispersed through the material more quickly. This means that even though with varying amounts of effort, a lightsabre could cut through virtually anything, some materials would offer more resistance to a sabre blade, and therefore we can now understand how Lord Vader's armour was able to ward off most of Luke's glancing blow, saving his life. Mr Albert Forge has gone further, and has postulated a mechanism for the generation of the spinning field which creates the blade described above. Imagine a tiny sphere of unknown composition. Rapidly spin this into a disk by the effect of inducing fields (probably EM). The disk deformed and elongated into a tube, or rod (imagine the sleeve of a shirt being turned inside out) by an axially mounted and powerful electron gun (like the tube of your TV).
As it turns out, 815.6 Celsius is hot for ordinary materials, but is actually a very cold temperature in plasma physics -- note that the photosphere of the sun (its cold (!) outer edge) has a temperature in the neighborhood of 6000 C. Experimentally, the biggest problem in generating (and sustaining) a plasma at a temperature of thousands or even low ten-thousands of degrees Celsius is that the plasma will be very susceptible to impurity radiation. In other words, rather than getting the atoms/ions in the plasma to collectively radiate as a blackbody, you'll most likely end up with lots of low-charge-state atomic and ion radiation. Consider the discharge in a fluorescent tube, for example -- the electrical discharge in the tube excites a few high-energy emission lines, and those photons then excite the fluorescent material lining the tube, producing a broad-band spectrum we perceive as nearly-white light.
If Adamantium changes state at 815.6 Celsius, I submit that this is no match to any type of plasma device.