Building on Ground Zero
The Structure of Metal
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The Structure of Metal

From carrying current on a computer's circuit boards to holding up skyscrapers, metal has countless uses, thanks to its special characteristics: It's hard and strong, yet it's bendable. It can be welded to other pieces of metal and rolled flat or hammered into shape. It conducts heat and electricity. It has a lustrous surface.

At the atomic heart of metal is a crystalline structure—tightly packed atoms arranged in orderly rows. This feature explores this heart and reveals what it is that gives metal its special characteristics and how metal behaves under the stress of heat and outside forces.—Rick Groleau

Sources: Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction, by William D. Callister, Jr. John Wiley & Sons, 1994; "The Nature of Metals," by A. H. Cottrell. Scientific American, September, 1967; The Science of Structures and Materials, by J. E. Gordon. Scientific American Library, 1988; Ceramics, Plastics, and Metals: An Introduction to the Science of Solids, by Richard H. Krock and Merrill L. Ebner. D.C. Heath & Co., 1965.

Note: This feature originally appeared on NOVA's "Why the Towers Fell" Web site, which has been subsumed into the "Building on Ground Zero" Web site.

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© | Created August 2006