The Science of Minecraft (Part 1): Smelting Ore
Think video games aren't educational? Think again! Everyday Einstein looks at the science and technology behind mining for metal via a 3D video game called Minecraft.
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Now, Let’s Make Alloys!
Iron is a great metal in its own right, but like most metals, you can make it even fancier by mixing in other elements. Mixing metals with other elements produces an alloy. One of the most famous alloys of iron is steel, which is iron mixed with a small amount of carbon, and a handful of other elements.
Just like experimenting with your favorite soup recipe, you can change the properties of steel (such as its hardness, flexibility, and whether or not it’s magnetic) by varying the amounts of those other elements. For example, stainless steel can be produced by using 18% chromium, 81% iron, a dash of carbon, and a sprinkling of nickel.
So now you know a little more about Minecraft, and hopefully a lot more about smelting iron. If you’re interested in trying smelting yourself, check out this post on periodictable.com or this set of tutorials on backyardmetalcasting.com.
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