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Old 31st May 2008, 10:41 PM   #19
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,875

This business of being able to positively identify material as being of meteoritic origin is something that's been tossed around for years. Going back some time, I contacted a number of metallurgists and academics involved in the investigation of meteorites and put the question to them as to whether it was possible to identify meteoritic material after it had been through the process of fire welding and forging.

I was unable to obtain confirmation of this possibility.

Prior this contact of many people, I had already put the question to Prof Jerzy Piaskowski, the noted Polish historical metallurgist, with whom I have worked in cooperation since about 1988. We exchanged correspondence on this subject for about 12 months, and he could suggest no tests that might prove that something was of meteoritic origin.

In the field of keris construction, where meteoritic material has been used, it is almost certain that it was used in combination with terrestrial ferric material. Any meteoritic material I have worked has similarly been combined with old irons.

The process of fire welding involves raising the temperature of the material to be welded to the level where the surfaces of the pieces of material to be joined together are almost molten.It is the point at which the iron is just short of actually burning. The process burns off impurities such as carbon and after a number of such welds, perhaps as many as ten or twelve, you have good dense material that does not throw off sparks when raised to weld heat and hit.

Now our scientists with their mega-multi-million dollar machine tell us:-

"--- The colossal machine is able to probe matter at the atomic level, giving scientists unique insights into the structure and make-up of materials. -----

"What my neutron beams tell you are where atoms are and what atoms do," said Professor Taylor. "We try to understand at a microscopic level the structure, arrangement and forces that hold materials together."

Crucially, this process is non-destructive.

"Without [ISIS], we'd have to take a hacksaw and cut chunks out of the artifact to look at under the microscope,"

"They were completely different," Dr Godfrey told BBC News. "There were differences in microstructures, there were differences in carbon content, there were differences in chemical composition. ---"

I absolutely believe this. The material that they looked at in the pistols was completely different, because all the impurities had been burnt out during the forging process, and the internal structures of the material had been altered. What the scientists found was material that in no way resembled the original meteoritic material, which is exactly what we would expect after this material had been through the welding and forging process.

With this new machine it is possible to examine material without cutting it and subjecting it to microscopic examination, but it is not possible to claim that this machine can reveal new insights into the material, only that it can reveal similar things to microscopic and other conventional methods of examination, but without damage to the material. If conventional examination cannot confirm material to be of meteoritic origin, after that material has been subjected to the weld/forge process, then it is illogical to believe that this new method of examination can provide such confirmation.

Based upon the information that is provided in the article, I understand that this new method of examination can provide similar information to the information obtained from a conventional examination, and it is able to provide this information without damage to the material.

I rather suspect that neither the people who posed the question, nor the people who answered it had the vaguest idea of the processes that had been used to make the pistols.
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