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Flexible Glass

Discussion in 'Research' started by NerdyCavegirl, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    Is there any known way to make glass flexible, preferably strong and flexible enough to be used for a sword? If so, how exactly is this done? If not, any theories about how it possibly could be?
     
  2. CrystalCHTriple

    CrystalCHTriple Scribe

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    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
  3. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    Wave wands and s**t!!! Use the magics!
     
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  4. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    That was in all caps... Unfortunately it's not in all caps anymore...
     
  5. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    The only glass swords I've ever read about being remotely plausible are metallic glass swords. They appear to be entirely theoretical at the moment and I couldn't find much beyond rampant speculation last time I researched them (which was at some point last year) but if you're not married to conventional (silicate) glass then I'd recommend looking into it.
     
  6. Jerseydevil

    Jerseydevil Minstrel

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    You're going to have to magic this. A real sword needs to be strong enough to not shatter when it hits something hard, be able to hold an edge and not get bent or warped out of shape with impact, and flexible enough that it's not brittle. Metal can do this, and no other natural substance can do so effectively. There are some weapons that use obsidian as the blade, but these are more like razor edged clubs with obsidian inserts.

    This is fiction, so you are going to have to wave some wands to make this happen.
     
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  7. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I think the visual image of a glass sword is one thing, such as what one might see in a movie or on television, but that in written form it's not particularly spectacular. The question has been raised before, and the same problems with the idea, and I wonder why the idea intrigues for written fiction.
     
  8. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    FifthView- For the pretty. And because the pyrokinetic nomad tribe is well-known for the glass wonders they mold from desert sand, so I found the idea of a flexible weapons-grade "ancient nomad secret" glass to be quite fitting. I'm already stretching reality enough with the wielder of the sword holding it up at just the right angle to magnify sunlight into a mini-deathray, so I at least wanted to have the foundation of the glass set as firm in physics as possible. Silicate glass for the weapons isn't a necessity, they do have other resources in the desert, I just want something that an average person would look at and think "glassy".
     
  9. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    Conext is key :)

    I wish that I had more reputation to give out at the moment... Depending on how far you are willing to dip into sci-fi, you could delve into a primitive form of chemistry/alchemy and adjust the chemical structure of the sand and/or glass. I'm not sure how that would work, but it's just an idea.
     
  10. Jim Aikin

    Jim Aikin Scribe

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    Having burnt holes in paper with a magnifying glass when I was a kid, I'd say this is quite a trick. First, the sword would have to be shaped like a magnifying lens. But that's the easy part -- just give it curved convex faces on both sides. The rest is harder. First, the sword would have to be directly between the sun and the person attacked with the sunlight, which would probably mean high in the air, unless it's near sunrise or sunset. Second, a long narrow sword would not produce a hot spot of light, it would produce a not-quite-so-hot ribbon of light. Third and most difficult to finesse, the hot spot/ribbon would exist only at precisely the proper focal length -- the right distance from the sword. If the attacked person moves either forward or backward, the hot spot/ribbon will be diffuse and not nearly so deadly.
     
  11. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

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    Yep like I said, I'm already stretching reality enough with the death ray. She only uses it a couple times though, usually she just cuts people to ribbons or throws a fireball in their face.
     
  12. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    Maybe you could have some sort of lens-shaped attachment on the hilt of the sword... Just a thought.
     
  13. Geo

    Geo Troubadour

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    There are few parts to my comment:
    1. One thing that may help you is to know that glass (any type o glass) is not a solid, at least on long time scales, it's a liquid that has been cooled too fast and didn't have time to create a crystalline structure. That is why in many old churches (couple hundred years or more) the tinted glass windows look as if they have melted. There was not heat involved in such effect, just time and gravity. So you could think of glass as a very dense, super slow moving fluid. Considering this, your sword could be a bit flexible if it was created to exist in different dimensions, getting is flexibility from a dimension where time passes much faster(just a crazy idea).
    2. Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilization used obsidian to make long knives, and obsidian is a type of glass (supercooled lava). I think that offers you a foundation to think about a glass sword, specially if you think in a short sword.
    3.There are very though glasses (resistant to impact, I mean). As metal, glass can be treated in cycles of heating and cooling to make it more resistant, and there are minerals than can be added to the mix (several of which occurred naturally in arid environments) to make the glass even more resistant to shatter by impact.
     
  14. SotaMursu

    SotaMursu Acolyte

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    You could try to go for something like kevlar; it's just carbon but arranged in a way it's tough.
    Bulletproof glass is like that but on macroscale: layers of glass on top of each other. (instead of changing the molecular arrangement)
    You could have them manipulate the glass into some kind of "glass kevlar".
     
  15. AkamaruGames

    AkamaruGames Sage

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    How about fiberglass? Depending on the composition it can be quite flexible though it is not pure glass so much as a collection of glass fibers held together by plastic. I am not sure I would make a sword out of it, but it certainly can be quite flexible and durable. Perhaps with a sharp tip it might be used like a fencing foil or a whip, both of which are known to be fairly flexible (albeit fencing foils are flexible for the intent of NOT hurting people, but hey your magic sword could have other properties).
     
  16. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

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    The death ray idea is stretching reality way more than the idea of flexible glass is.

    Why does it have to be flexible? I though that the whole point of a sword was to have a rigid piece of material that is doesn't bend when you try to cleave off enemy limbs. Most metal only has to be slightly flexible because making it harder tends to make it brittle. In fact, harder materials ted to hold a sharp edge much better than flexible ones, which could be why the glass swords are so sought after. They can hold a razor-thin edge for a very long time without sharpening. If your glass were made tough enough via whatever magical glassmaking process you have, flexibility wouldn't be needed at all.
     
  17. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Good swords are extremely flexible, and will return to true after being bent. A rigid sword will crack or even shatter.



    It has taken hundreds of years of metallurgy to develop steel that will do this. Too little carbon, and you get wrought iron, which will bend once and take a set; too much carbon, and you get cast iron, which is brittle. Just enough carbon, and you get steel.

    Traditionally, swords were made with wrought-iron spines and steel edges to give them spring and edge toughness. Really good swords were made from steel edges welded onto twisted iron bands that were braided and welded together. Bad swords would bend and have to be straightened, I imagine by bending them violently over a knee or stomping on them.

    I discuss steel in the Ask Me About Swords thread in quite a few places.

    There's actually a discussion about glass swords here: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/research/2139-ask-me-about-swords-post134172.html#post134172

    And the basics of pre-industrial welding, here: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/research/2139-ask-me-about-swords-post170256.html#post170256

    And sword building, here: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/research/2139-ask-me-about-swords-post142261.html#post142261

    Swords are swords because steel is steel.

    Also, the finer an edge is, the faster it dulls. And the harder an edge is, the easier it is to ruin. You can destroy a straight razor -- hardened steel with a super-fine edge -- by dropping it on a marble countertop. An extremely hard blade, even made of diamond, would crack or chip the first time you hit anything with it. You'd really need to change all of the physics of your world. Or, you know, just make it magic.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  18. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    No one questions why one lightsaber is able to block another. Simply create a transparent metal that people call "glass" or "crystal". The metal only becomes transparent when purified and tempered in the correct manner.
     
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