The Shining History of Metal

Cleveland Internships  > Grades of steel, K400 alloy, Nickel aluminum bronze >  The Shining History of Metal

Our modern world is much more complex than most of us give it credit for. A lot of historians today prefer not to refer to our period in history as more advanced or enlightened but as more complex, a sign of respect for the past and an understanding of the cyclical nature of progress. We are not living in a period of progress so much as we are living in a time of unparalleled complexity in terms of social and mechanical structures. We certainly live in a time that is much more complicated, in some ways, than any other time in history. That’s for sure. But what makes this time so much more complex than any other time in history? Is it our stainless steel products, our steel composition, our many uses of alloys, the types of alloys we have? Is it our aluminum bronze casting or our ability to build cars, skyscrapers and planes at an ever increasing rate? Or it something a little more subtle and mysterious, something about the ways we conduct our lives and how we represent ourselves in societies? Well, the answer is a little both of both, to be honest. It all started around the industrial revolution, of course. Without that period in history, we would not have all the crazy complex machines that drive us along our path and make our lives what they are. You see, around the time of the early eighteenth century, there were several breakthroughs in simple machines, namely the ability to power them with external energy sources such as coal. The modern industrial revolution is often credited to have started in England although many historians dispute whether this is exactly true. There are several credible theories positing starting points in other places such as a century or two earlier in China or in other countries so the point can quickly become unclear. Either way, after the industrial revolution kicked off it quickly allowed people to harness abilities that no other humans in any other period in history had the ability to do. This is definitely true and is impossible to dispute historically. There has never been a time before in human history when people have had access to such a huge amount of both energy and resources. Before the advent of externally powered machines it simply wasn’t feasible. Let’s talk for a moment about one of the most important breakthroughs.
The Harnessing of Metal
Now, humans had long since been using metal for a wide variety of things before the industrial revolution but it wasn’t until this period, and after, in history that we could invent something as complex as aluminum bronze casting and other metalworking techniques. Today, we have enormous factories devoted specifically to these tasks. Aluminum bronze casting, aluminum bronze casting sub processes, mixing steel alloys, creating new alloy combination metals, many of the places where these things occur are actually made of the same materials. It’s a cycle that sustains itself as long as it is undertaken carefully and with attention to detail. One of the most interesting things about metal is that it gets stronger when mined, smelted and combined with other types of metal. This is also a process that humans have been experimenting with for thousands of years but it wasn’t until we had access to simple engines that we could possibly generate enough heat to really get it underway. Steel itself is an alloy of several metals mixed together, a combination which creates an incredibly strong material that now quite literally holds our modern society together. It truly is hard to understate just how revolutionary the invention of steel, and especially stainless steel was, to the explosion of complexity in our digital, computerized society. Even microchips run on certain kinds of intricately designed metals that were only very recently perfected enough to provide modern processing power. You see, there is a lot of heat transferred through these systems so we needed a source of metal and design that could withstand that heat and transfer data in the way we needed. In this way and many others, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what metal and alloys can do for society as a whole.

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