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This is about science produced by the California Institute of Technology and originally broadcast by station KPCC Pasadena California. The programs are made available to the station by a national educational radio. This program is about metals with host Dr. Peter listen and his guest Dr. Paul do way. Here now is Dr. lesson on the world we live in is made mechanically possible by the use of metals. Whenever man needs something strong light and durable to secure contain or Cleave he turns almost instinctively to metals. Every item in our daily existence with the one exception of our clothing and food is made possible by numerous applications of the admirable properties of metal. Indeed it is hard to imagine a life without metals. Such worlds however still exist near the Earth's polar regions an equitorial
Africa and in the great and little islands of the South Pacific. Here one finds primitive tribes conducting their struggle against their environment on nature's own terms back playing with wood and stone bone and horn. The introduction of metal tools and modern ideas is giving these tribes that order of magnitude advantage over nature which will enable them to perform the tasks of existence more easily and more efficiently. And give them time to think to think and to plan. And of course plunging them precipitously into the twentieth century and in our own civilised world new metals constantly increase man's power extending his frontiers and helping him move to ever more advanced technological levels. Dr. Pardue way. Our guest today has been working with metal since obtaining his
doctorate from the University of Brussels in Belgium. In 1933 he has been associated with Celtic since the early 30s and has made many notable contributions to the science of materials. For the last decade he has been professor of material sciences at the California Institute of Technology and his current interests among others are associated with alloys high temperature materials and the effects of radiation on material POW. As an introduction I'd like to ask you to discuss some of the fundamental properties of metals. Well I would say that I met one class. Together with the humming and the semiconductor semiconductor material such as we all know what the city can value it can do nothing but make
essentially a high electrical conductivity. We create a company by high that coma conduct good conduct of heat and electricity. They also have time and that can be the foam plastic and they can be used. Especially for structures which are supposed to have these. High loads. Of course Paul we speak in general about metals but these days I expect very pure math pure metals are very infrequently used then in fact the only Tony use of a pure metal. Maybe use of copper and keep them there. If that's not a matter of importance but the electrical conductivity is important. So in that case pure BT is in Mass but pure matter in
the count mechanical and I don't think they could be used to build such a plane. So modern technology uses a process of adding other elements to metals term prove their property that's it that's what we call an alloy. An alloy made of metal or with other elements which. Buy them. I'm not mechanic types of Calvin So when we speak about it. We mean and I don't mean I'm a lawyer. That means I don't want to wait. Something has been added When we got the bout. I haven't quite sweet gentle honey considers which is essentially a mixture and Caballe. How does this how did this addition are brought I think are very small quantities of extraneous elements how did these so radically change the property of a pure miracle.
When the pyramid 30 it's made up at home like any other. And these act only in space. According to a letting it back down which repeats itself indefinitely. That's what we call a quick time in state which it's made up. Building a blog in which the atoms and the line in the Creed and the structure of repeat itself. Now when you play another act. In that structure you have cause locally. He started it with the action. By the presence. Another kind of bone. If the metal is pure There will be it will be very easy to open plastic deformation and if you can see that. Why old copper and electrical why you all know that it's very easy to deform and it will not page. Now if we act
a small amount of behavior to that copper and heat treat it the proper way we can make it that high out here just by adding that other item that means that the process of plasticity which is the economy of the atomic is prevented by the presence of the other photon atom in the 90s. Paul in our discussion about these atoms which make up the metal and alloy is how much do we know about the atom how much detail in this atomic crystalline structure can we see. They accept more of techniques by which we can accurately atomic and that is done mostly by the way we can. We can determine exactly how the atoms are located in a crystal by not only a crazy haiku but also it can be hard and that
indeed gives us the way the atoms in this particular case. But of course we cannot see individual atoms. The most power cord to a way that so far is the electron microscope which can magnify things up to about two thousand times so even higher. That means that if you would consider a housefly magnified by the microscope it would be as big of the eye. And that is about the limit of what we can see but this is not the heat from atom here. However we can see it. A certain number of atoms in one given element and that would be I would say that the limit is about 100 Actos and we could be the end of Michael's. So we can see up to about that degree of detail up to about a hundred atoms and then you remark that we had foreign atoms to change the
properties and to strengthen it. And you were also mentioning about heating these days which greatly changes the properties how is that done and what happens there. What is happening is that when we add it to another one I mean when we met let's say that we put a certain amount of cap on. Making tea but it is done in the liquid state. If and only distributed with the atoms of one and then 2035 is to study the different takes place and the elements. They go into a certain county. Given with high spec to the cost element which indicated that going to give a food may not be exactly what we want to because it may not be very strong in that configuration. After that then we can get by what we
call a heat treatment we can take this slowly and quench it from high temperature heating some of the company of a few which exist that temperature and then by heating at a lower temperature we can podge use. Atomic enhancement from what we call the face we claiming to be in these tanks here. This idea of heat treating Paul which I imagine is used by every blacksmith. If there are any blacksmith left in the United States is a very entrant I dare isn't it. I believe it may be that the. If I ever put you it was probably command of the impure and lost poetry content. Kabam you're even being that to use the which may have been a pure iron
oxide. The carabao was used in the form of charcoal and it was heated to high temperature. Very impure motives containing power beyond what they have to step with. And then probably it is covered up by chance that after 30 days I haven't counted when I could be made harder by heating and just dropping it in water. I think it has been found guilty. I see and of course going back to our discussion about the Ancients I might refer to the ancient miracles of modern technology which of course are steel and aluminum. The conventional weapons of modern mentality just both of those are of course alloys and both of them are. He created in many foster rioting of ways. Would you like to talk a little
about the conventional steel and aluminum alloys when it comes time for a little steam. Carbone are with one element present but other differences can be used and I used to call Moat House time compound this surface manganese and other metals such as. Called out and so on but the eight months become signs and it can be not predict it maybe but all of us and we can design some people at least candies amnesty you. So it is likely the mechanism is not the same things but it also based on the fact that after the so-called heat treatment act is it's now inside a very small
pack to go with it and wait if they have to. Paul your remark that carbon is probably the conventional alloy for steel. What is the substance which is usually used with a movement to improve its properties in the case of A.M. cab on the left because it does not the mortar not to any extent. So if another almost metallic and I'm such a copper which is the method of manganese or combination of those two. If it happened but by the way be there you know the industry and I think that. Not even in the first few pounds of
the expensive and gold. Well this always seems to be the way things are vastly expensive when they start and through development and knowledge they become. Every day you read talking about everyday things we've been talking about the old classical metals and I suppose Sun says always bring us on into new areas and I imagine that we have a large number of new metals which are of interest to people in your field. Paul great. I would find when you met that like baseball and I don't like I don't want the baseball team not only numb with the baseball. Now if we look over the last I will forget about that. But I think we can see like to see a switch and you are one of those. If it's
40 0 in that there was absolutely it was just an expensive one and it had no special properties except being active. Now. In your opinion was a bit of a however and that time in the thirties and it was not. The moaners by kings. The fact was that that which was the only method of having a high enough thank you activity was at a premium to act as a sort of gamma radiation. It's a very. Difficult to separate from the minerals and it comes with soap for the method of creation had in stock by maybe one ton of but the medium with the
only value of the material to extract from these. Now you have. Without a plan you and I must give a story here concerning the. Event upload of it once so we use it as a consequence it up so you assume that people thought in the 30s that it could be used as an admission in steelmaking just if he died when liquid steel before popping into an NG got women to sleep with the oxygen which has been dissolved and it must be taken out and that is it. Now having your meter of any power for the oxidizer So you know the UP TO SET of the stock. Then they wanted to experiment with it which of course would have been very good. And that's only views they could see for you.
And you know how the metal from the reactor and of course I I know and I expect there can be few people who do not know you're in Yemen even probably its atomic number because of its famous background in the production of the atomic bomb and many other aspects of atom power. But I'm fascinated by your suggestion of tons of this uranium ore sitting around that nobody knew what to do anything with is that still sitting there. Oh certainly no I can tell you a peep about some event which they were studying the use of in your mind. And the factory people that were there did it bought from the Congo for the time it was the Belgian Congo.
I mean to test the steel industry. And it happened that when the German country. There were several county roads about 50 tons of this very value of a lot back that time. When the American army finally got into a battle of the end of the war all that came into her mouth was still there. The Germans of course were very anxious to get hold of it. You know if during the war but nobody ever told them nobody ever mentioned that there was about 25 to 30 people sitting there next to us in bed. So the Germans were desperately searching for uranium to progress on their own atomic research and sitting there in some deserted cold rainy railroad siding was tons of the substance and
no one in Belgium thought that they would tell them about it. I think that's where it was hidden in the sense that it was in such an obvious place that nobody would have thought it was their new metal which I would like to hear a little apart is to attaining it. Yeah that is what we can call a new metal too because it has been known for a long time. It's an element but it's only a piece from Luxembourg. I'm sorry to talk about that. And her car with my memory card. Separate it. And demonstrated that it might be a useful method because it had some of that and that was because he succeeded in making it where nobody paid any attention to that. I believe about 1946 after the war when the West the top people
and the time called space to have a map that could replace or a.m. in the supersonic crash in which the temperatures expected for these types such an airplane would be above the capability of the candidates for that and many other here with this because it has the weight of the density higher than our room but less than and it's hard to compete with both and. In certain applications. So the younger one thousand forty six. And. Twenty thousand. Expected to be with you. And so Paul it is suggested that the United States supersonic
transport because of the high temperatures on the skin when it is cruising at these out of mach numbers near three well be built. To a large extent of to attaining him I am not sure of the numbers because I cannot tell you how many pounds it would include but certainly hype and don't forget that the penguin can't even step sunny weather temperature. But many other. We are making very good use of it. Paul another matter which is being used extensively in the aerospace industry is magnesium is that I am a relatively new that's not a numerical but it's uses I believe I already knew what I meant of the magnesium at the entry. It goes back to the early 1900s. But look b though there
has always been a very difficult problem with magnesium and then Problem is the lack of the limited depth and if there is something that the aircraft in I fear most is the fact and when I was there without always met those and I always vote which this problem has not been completely solved. There is also another drawback to the magnesium is that it is not stable. This can be a packed place. It's another if it so that it could hardly be used by the Navy and as you point out because of it's tactility it has the characteristic put in the crudest terms that if you give it a hard knock it's likely to break. That is going to make your model though it is used quite extensively in casting him down there. But in the small town you will not go.
We progress on and on in our research is it likely that we are going to discover more and more metals. Or I shouldn't say that more and more alloys and alloy ABOL metals as the years progress or have we sort of come to the end of the book for I don't think we we at the end of the book but let me say this we can expect to develop a number of new lawyers by mixing every and every element we have by mixing them together. But you meant that in the sense of a new you class like the thing I'm having a class like aluminum in like I haven't been I don't think we will find that because we have exhausted all of the elements in the table which could if a base host to develop a new series I think it is our last chance. Now in connection with that what are some of the things which you are
working on at this moment in connection with you metals and their properties. Most of my interest is in creating new alloys in a sense that they have stock shares or properties that have not been obtained so far and the basic ID west to extend the classical up that we had in metallurgy of quenching from the high temperature to retain some kind of picture which is present there. And we extended that to a liquid state rather than the sun. Is this the same as simply dropping particles of the mix of the liquid metal into water. No because by doing that you will not have a right of cooling the opposite of liquid metal will be surrounded by the water vapor coming out of the water and you have you have not actually had any cooling to speak. We do it by protecting the globular at high speed against a
block which absorbs the heat. I see and worked what you call the process that is now in the metallurgical literature because I don't think it's a good thing but I think it's very expressive for the same because you are splatting doing this mental cool and in just the same way that a housewife might splat fat out of her frying pan on the sides of her service. I must tell you we do it much faster processor milliseconds. Well that of course is much faster and speed up again. Yes this is projected at exceptionally high speeds onto its coolant. Another thing that I would like to talk about very briefly is the new technology of obtaining exceedingly pure. Pieces of metal which have these enormous strength. Would you like
to talk about that. It's called a whiskey which is a very tiny metal very very very small a long time. We have a tremendous tank approaching the thing of it because if you have a kind of about 500000 PFI or even more which is the strength we would expect that close to us. And then although it's very pure What makes it very strong if that yet it's icy and so once again the cycle goes from adding alloys are to ensuring that you have a very very pure substance does one use these these whiskered take not these Whiskas. They are metals or nonmetals. They can be like sapphire V.C. oxide and so. Which is which a lot of it which
is hip hop that is very close with well these Whiskas represent a fascinating aspect of new technology and I wish we could speak more about them. But it seems that time moves on and so we have gained some insight into the domain of metals the pure metals involved too soft in Malibu to be extensively used today and the alloys basic metals compounded with other substances to produce materials harder stronger and stiffer than our fathers could ever imagine. And then back again to the Whiskas which are pure metals. Enormously strong approaching the theoretical strength of the metal itself. Thank you very welcome. This was about science with host Dr. Peter Letterman and his guest Dr. Paul do way of the California Institute of Technology. Join us again for our next program when two more members of the counter-act faculty were
About science
About metals
Producing Organization
California Institute of Technology
KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program focuses on the science behind metals.
Interview series on variety of science-related subjects, produced by the California Institute of Technology. Features three Cal Tech faculty members: Dr. Peter Lissaman, Dr. Albert R. Hibbs, and Dr. Robert Meghreblian.
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Host: Hibbs, Albert R.
Producing Organization: California Institute of Technology
Producing Organization: KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
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University of Maryland
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APA: About science; About metals. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from