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BusinessHey Reddit. I'm back. IAMA F̶o̶o̶d̶T̶r̶u̶c̶k̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶e̶r̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶l̶o̶w̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶r̶.̶ Failure. AMA about the hardest part of being an entrepreneur.

Apr 1st 2017 by EmersonEsq • 63 Questions • 68 Points

My short bio: Hello!

Some redditors suggested that I should do an AMA about becoming a smith, so here it is! If you'd like to know how to start that kind of a business, just shoot me a question and I'll answer!

About me: I was born in a tiny hamlet in the woods of Poland. My stepfather was the village blacksmith and I learned by observing him. When I was 15, I left the village and went to the nearest city to seek a better life. I found work as a helper at various smithing shops and finished my high school, then the university. Faced with little job opportunities beyond McDonald's, I decided to start a swordmaking operation of my own.

My company, AudentiaGuild, makes highly embellished swords, armour and other metalwork.

I'm 26 now. Took me some time getting there!

I also teach sword moves on YouTube - some of you might know me as The Sword's Path. My background as a fencer is mainly in HEMA, but I also trained kendo, kenjutsu and sport fencing.

Here's one of my previous posts, if you'd like to see my crafts! http://imgur.com/gallery/gxuE5

My Proof: http://imgur.com/6cxRljy

facebook post

channel description

AudentiaGuild

Q:

Sorry to hear it didn't work out, but more power to ya for sticking your neck out and making a go at your own business.

So when did you realize you were going to have to pull the plug? Like, was there a moment of clarity, or was it more like a gradually approaching realization?

A:

What is the most exciting thing going on with space exploration right now?

Either in recent months or planned in the near future.


Q:

Is it possible to produce a sound that's loud enough to kill a person?

A:

Hello! I was wondering in modern TV shows and movies, what fallacies or innaccuracies do you see regarding both smithing and swordfighting/combat?

Thank you


Q:

We were taking on water from the moment we started out. It was a constant struggle to even remain on the road. Constant repair issues sapped our bottom line hard. The killing blow finally came when we had roughly $1500 left to our name, in cash, to mount a comeback with and it was stolen by my only employee.

A:

I think it's the multiple attempts of private enterprise to put their money were our dreams are. At that level, success is not as important as acting on the urge to explore. Lest we all ossify in the present. -NDTyson


Q:

The loudest pure tone of sound on earth is 194 decibels, that is a sound that has a pressure that oscillates from 0 to 2 atmospheres sinusoidally.

120 decibels is painfully loud

150 dB next to a jet engine

adding ten decibels increases sound intensity by a factor of 10, adding 10 multiplies by 10. So 150 dB is 1000 times more intense than 120 dB and 190 dB is 10,000 times more intense than 150 dB.

The loudest speaker on earth produces a tone at 154 dB in the Netherlands it's used to test spacecraft.

non-musical sound called a shock wave can be much more intense. A shock wav from a bomb blast or meteorite strike can produce a pressure wave which will blow out the alveoli in your lungs. And maybe the 190 dB sound wave would destroy alveoli as well. Any volunteers?

If you want the full Death Metal sound experience however go to Venus with its dense atmosphere, musical sound there can be 10,000 times more intense than music on Earth. Go ahead and turn it up to 11.

A:

Whoa, that's a big subject.

Let's start with swordfighting: it's mostly balls, with no respect to our current knowledge of medieval/renaissance martial arts at all. Hollywood and TV are terribly stagnant about swordfighting: while the portrayal of, say, gunfighting or unarmed combat has evolved MASSIVELY over the past 30 years, most sword choreographies employed in high budget productions are still the same collections of slow, cliched-to-death moves bereft of dynamic and grace as in the 80s. If I had to point the main fallacies history-wise? Cutting through plate armour, never using the point, using a sword in a parry-response manner rather than /Indes/.

As for the smithing? Well, it usually doesn't get a lot of screentime, but when it does, the art is often raped with scenes such as reforging broken blades and casting swords from molten iron. :)


Q:

That sucks. I saw from an earlier comment that it was a friend who stole the money. Ugh.

How would you have spent the $1500? Promotional efforts?

A:

Dr. Tyson,

What advice would you share to an undergraduate of physics and mathematics who is very uncertain about a future career in science? Some nights feel defeating from the course work alone, but the thought of a future career based on my education can be overwhelmingly intimidating.

I have no intentions of giving up because I am certain of one thing: learning and applying science fills me with joy.

Thank you for your time and the hundreds of commuter hours I've filled with Star Talk

<3


Q:

What would happen to your body if you were tied to a weight and sent to the bottom of the Mariana trench?

A:

So once a sword is broken it is just scrap metal because it is too weak to reforge?


Q:

Honestly, that $1500 would have gone into things as simple as fuel for the truck and food to sell. Turn $1500 into $1750, turn that into $2000, etc... Would we have survived? Probably not but, having the chance literally stolen from you is a hard thing to cope with.

A:

I may be partly guilty for your scientific angst. Most of my public science persona involves conveying the joy of scientific discovery, and especially the joy of curiosity, from childhood through adulthood. What's commonly absent from my messaging is the steep investment of time and energy (physical and emotional) that becoming a scientist and actually doing science requires. In fact the struggle is what must be loved by aspiring scientists because being a practicing scientist requires this of you daily.

Not knowing the answer to a problem and struggling to find the answer is precisely what science is. It's neither more nor less than this. The fact that you are experiencing this very struggle is not a barrier to your progress it is the best evidence that you are on a path where you belong, if you love what you do.

Good luck. Sometimes you need that too.

-NDTyson


Q:

So, if you sank to the bottom of the Mariana trench you would drown before you reached a crushing depth. If you’re interested in a more interesting demise, you should swim out of James Cameron’s submersible at the bottom. Fortunately you're mostly water, and water is incompressible. So you would retain your basic human shape. The air pockets inside you, namely in your nasal cavity, throat and chest, would be a problem. Those would collapse inward, which would fatal.

Because you wouldn’t have any air, you wouldn’t float to the surface and you would likely stay at the bottom to be consumed by the Bone-eating snot flower, which usually eats whale bones but would probably make an exception in this case.

A:

In a nutshell, yes. To achieve the previous material consistency, you'd have to smelt the shards into raw steel again.

It's also possible to forge weld the shards, creating a pattern-welded "damascus" sort of blade, but it will never be as good as the original one.


Q:

What is your favorite grilled cheese recipe? I'm always looking for new funky ways to spice up a grilled cheese.

A:

What's something you've learned recently that's really blown your mind?


Q:

What is the strangest thing you found in your research?

A:

But muh Anduril


Q:

I feel like I replied to this.. but it seems to not have been saved. Anyway, here it is again:

Coffeegrind+Lavender Cheddar, thick cut dark chocolate covered bacon, crème brûlée sourdough. It's my favorite because it won me awards. I reward that kind of success among my children.

A:

Lately I've had about one such incident per week. Although my target is one per day. I recently learned from some dynamicist colleagues that the striking visibility of Saturn's ring system is not eternal, coming and going with the dynamical forces of all that orbits the planet. Which means if I were around back when the Dinosaurs roamed and showed them Saturn through a telescope, it might have been an uninteresting sight. Very sad. -NDTyson


Q:

Perhaps the strangest one is that it seems impossible to die from insomnia. One high school kid named Randy Gardner tried to stay up in the 1964 to see what would happen for a school project. He didn’t sleep for 264 hours and though he hallucinated that he was a professional football player, mistook a street sign for a pedestrian and eventually lost muscle control.

But he was fine and recovered after a day of sleep. It seems that unless you’re put on some diabolical machine that forces you to stay awake (like a few unfortunate rats have been), you’re body will make you sleep. To date, no one has ever died from insomnia (although quite a few have died from the opposite, particularly when behind the wheel of car).

A:

I know. :( But hey, the Elves of Rivendell knew magic. Maybe they fixed it right?


Q:

Did you have any business experience before you did this? If not, how much experience would you say you had on a scale to 1-10 (1 being never had a retail food job, 10 being maybe you were a manager etc.)

A:

Hi Neil! Just wanted to know your thoughts on SpaceX's Falcon 9 relaunch and landing, and what do you think it means for the future of space travel? also, would you ever consider to join a one way trip to Mars?


Q:

What about Fatal familial insomnia?

According to Wikipedia, "(FFI) is an extremely rare autosomal dominant inherited prion disease of the brain. It is almost always caused by a mutation to the protein PrPC, but can also develop spontaneously in patients with a non-inherited mutation variant called sporadic fatal insomnia (sFI). FFI has no known cure and involves progressively worsening insomnia, which leads to hallucinations, delirium, confusional states like that of dementia, and eventually, death. The average survival time for patients diagnosed with FFI after the onset of symptoms is 18 months."

Am I missing something? This disease appears to cause death due to insomnia.

A:

Which is more realistic swordfighting: Errol flynn style, conan style, or Kurosawa's samurai style?


Q:

I'd never run a business before. Before starting my truck I was in charge of menu development on another truck back in DC. If call it a 7?

A:

I really like Earth. So any space trip I take, I'm double checking that there's sufficient funds for me to return. Also, I'm not taking that trip until Elon Musk send his Mother and brings her back alive. Then I'm good for it.

Any demonstration of rocket reusability is a good thing. When we fly on a Boeing 747 across great distances, we don't throw it away and roll out a new one. Reusability is arguably the most fundamental feature of affordable expensive things. -NDTyson


Q:

That's a good question, and we looked it up in our research. From what we found it's not quite clear that it's the lack of sleep that kills you, but may be the brain damage that the prion disease causes and the insomnia is a symptom.

A:

I'd say Kurosawa out of the three. At least it portrays the speed and dynamic of a sword cut reasonably well. :)


Q:

What should we expect in the next few years from astrophysics?

A:

If i were floating near a nuetron star say within 1 mile, how spectacular would my death be?


Q:

Slaanesh and I aren't on good terms.

A:

I'd love me some answers to what Dark Matter is, or Dark energy. I'd also like to know if there is or was ever life on Mars. These are realistically answerable questions in the next couple of decades.

In the immediate several years to come, there's an emerging cottage industry among planet hunters in which we can make measurements of the atmospheric chemistry of exoplanets. These amounts to a search for "bio-markers" such as Oxygen (O2), methane (CH4), and other signs of unstable molecule that could be made by a sustained biosystem on the planet surface. So watch for headlines there in the coming years. -NDTyson


Q:

A neutron star has a couple of times the mass of the sun compressed into a sphere the size of a city.

You'll probably be killed by the radiation produced as matter falls into the neutron star on the way in, and certainly at a close distance of 1 mile. But let's assume the neutron star is unnaturally quiet. You'll be in free fall. and as usual it's not the fall that kills you. However in this case that might not be true, gravity is stronger at close distances and weaker further away. This means if your head is pointed toward the neutron star it will be tugged toward the star much more strongly than your feet and this tidal force will rip you apart. Check out Larry Niven's short story "Neutron Star" for details.

There is another way to die however, some neutron stars are a hundred billion times stronger magnets than the strongest magnets on earth. At those levels of magnetism your atoms are distorted into thin cigars and all the bonds between atoms that make up the molecules in your body are broken so you become a human shaped plasma cloud that is tidally stretched and pulled into the star where you impact the surface and generate lethal gamma radiation.

A:

"Indes" is the secret concept of striking simultaneously with the opponent rather than waiting for him to finish his attack. :)


Q:

Life as we know it on earth is cell bases, DNA, and so on. If we did find alien life, are we sure we would recognize it? What if alien life is similar to iron, but our tests couldn't even detect some other unearthly element that makes it living. I guess my question is, since earth life is so unique and specific to us, how do weexpect to recognize "life" so unique and specific to another world? Could we have seen life on a planet millions of light years away, but not realized it because the details of photography are limited?

A:

This is so cool! I've always wondered about the jumping in the elevator thing. If that doesn't help, is there anything you CAN do to help save yourself in a falling elevator?


Q:

What is your stand on the whole ,,hand-and-a-half sword'', sometimes called bastard sword in fantasy books and rpg games? Do you think that it is the right name to call a longsword? Have you ever made such weapon, and how would you wield it?

A:

Excellent question. We think life is alive and a slap of iron is not because, among a few other reasons, we have metabolism. We consume energy in the service of our existence. If we find any other entity that does this too, it would make a good candidate for life. Consider also that you reference and "unearthly" element. That is not likely at all because the periodic table of elements is full. There's no room for any other elements to be discovered in the natural universe. And using spectroscopy, we confirm that these very same elements are found in stars across the universe itself. Not only that, the four most common chemically active ingredients in the universe (H, He, O, C, N) are the SAME four most abundant ingredients in life on Earth. So our bias in searching for "life as we know it" is not entirely close-minded. -NDTyson


Q:

Laying flat on your back is the best way to spread out the G forces evenly through your body. If you're standing up, your organs may keep falling even though your body has stopped.

You should also hope that your elevator fits snugly in its shaft, so the pillow of air below the car slows the fall and the broken elevator cable below can provide some cushioning. Crossing your fingers is also a good idea.

A:

As the name suggests, I'd have to mutilate my hand to properly wield it... so I'm waiting until I'm ready to ascend as the ultimate hand-and-a-half swordmaster.


Q:

Do you think we will ever make contact with complex organisms within the next 50yrs?

thanks for making my day. http://i.imgur.com/oypPqKi.jpg

A:

So, what's happens if I jump through the hole in the earth?


Q:

Is Klingon batleth actually an effective, usable weapon?

A:

No. I think they (we) might all be too far away from one another in space and possibly time. By complex, I'm presuming you mean life other than single-celled organisms. Life with legs, arms, thoughts, etc. It's all about our capacity to travel interstellar distances. And that's surely not happening in the next 50 years. Not the rate things are going today. -NDTyson


Q:

Jumping into a hole in the earth is a classic physics homework problem. The answer is that it takes 45 minutes to get to the other side.

However that simple answer misses most of the fun.

From a point in north america the surface of the earth is moving to the east at a few hundred miles per hour. The center of the earth is not. So if you fall into an evacuated hole you have to slow down by 800 miles per hour by rubbing along the wall. Not good! To get around this problem dig the hole from pole to pole.

The next problem is that it gets hot as you go down, the center of the earth is hotter than the surface of the sun, so you'd cook. You are going to need a refrigerated impossibly well insulated suit.

And indeed you'll need to remove the air in the tube. The pressure and density of the air starts out doubling every 15,000 feet of depth (3 miles) so after 10 doublings at 15,000 feet and 30 miles the air is as dense as water and you sink no further.

A:

Any hard, sharp object is.

It it good at killing a person? Sure. Is it optimal? No.


Q:

How do you feel about the new NASA bill/budget?

A:

Wouldn't you stop in the middle because of gravity or am I thinking about this wrong?


Q:

What modifications would make this fantasy weapon more capable? It is portrayed quite elegantly in Star-Trek.

A:

Wolf in sheep's clothes. My read of the (entire) plan is to remove Earth monitoring from NASA's mission statement. leaving NASA to think only about the rest of the Universe and not Earth as a part of that same universe. Unless this task is picked up by some other agency, the disconnect will be disastrous to our understanding of our own planet, preventing us from knowing and predicting our own impact on our own environment. My sense is that the next generation (30 and younger) does not think this way. They just don't happen to be old enough to be head of agency, corporations, or government yet. So I look forward to when they are all in charge. Especially anyone born since 1995 -- the year we discovered our first exoplanet. For that reason, I dub that demographic "Generation Exoplanet". -NDTyson


Q:

If you ignore air resistance (say you vacuumed sealed the tube) you would pass the middle of earth falling at 18,000 mph. Then your inertia would carry you to the other side, sort of like a swing at a playground.

A:

Well, the construction isn't that practical - in general, you want your weapon to have as much reach as you can operate well. I can imagine a bat'leth being quite deadly in very tight quarters, however. Not as deadly as a historical weapon, but still very much usable.


Q:

What is the one question you wish we had the answer?

A:

Isn't there already a case where a person had his head in a particle accelerator and it got turned on?

IIRC, you could see the particle path through his brain in the scans. Let me see if I can find it.

Edit: Yeah here it is. Also here.


Q:

What limitations might it have which a normal sword does not? What limitations does a sword have which might not be present in a batleth?

A:

I have a cop-out answer to that one. My favorite question to think about is the one we do not yet know to ask because it's very existence awaits our next discovery -- placing us on a new cosmic vista, requiring ideas and inquiry today undreamt of. -NDTyson


Q:

Yes! Good find. Whether you would die or not would depend on the power of the particle accelerator and how much radiation it was carrying. Bugorski's accelerator was 100 times less powerful than the LHC, and it was also only a single pulse, while the LHC is a machine gun.

The beam paralyzed one side of Anatoli Bugorki's face. As a result now many years later one side of his face is smooth and unwrinkled while the other side has aged by decades. So maybe old accelerators could be used instead of botox for beauty treatments.

But since Bugorski nearly died from radiation poisoning, we think a hit from the LHC would be lethal.

A:

Well, a batleth, wielded as intended, has an abysmal reach. The design isn't optimized towards thrusting, either.

An actual sword would be way more dangerous in every way, being a lot faster, reaching farther, and allowing for easy maneuvering.


Q:

What was the defining moment in your life where you thought "I did it?"

A:

Is it possible to propel your self with farts in space, practically. Or would the force produced be better compared to ion accelerators.?


Q:

I tend to agree with this analysis, except for one thing - when I've thought about practical use of the Bat'leth, I think of it more as a quarterstaff. Obviously, that's not really how it was portrayed on the show, but by releasing one hand and snapping the weapon out with the other (assume incredibly strong klingon wrists), I think the reach problem is solved. With this technique, I think it becomes extremely dangerous - it has the staff's distance flexibility with the cutting damage of the blade.

(10+ years of kenjutsu here)

A:

I try to best every previous defining moment with a new one. In that way you don't live in the past, you live for the future. -NDTyson


Q:

This is tremendously difficult to compare. The ion propulsion is a continuous force while the fart is an impulse. So we can easily use conservation of momentum to get the fart answer it is not easily comparable to the much less mass but much higher velocity continuous impulse change from the ion engine.

According to Wikipedia article titled “flatulence”, the average fart is 100ml with a mass of 0.02 grams, with an ejection velocity estimated at 3 meters per second. Rounding off this gives the gas a momentum of 10-4 Kg m/second. An 80 Kg person will recoil with equal and opposite momentum, giving them a speed of 10-6 meters/second (or two millionths of a mile per hour).

A:

You can either snap for reach or prevail in the bind, not both at the same time. And an experienced opponent will go for a bind usually. :(


Q:

Hi Dr Tyson, huge fan. I know its a big question, but how do you go on knowing how small we are in this universe? The thought of my insignificance in the grand scheme of things tends to depress me as much as the vastness of the universe interests me. Thanks for your time!

A:

What's your favorite way(s) to die, whether it appears in the book or not? Which was the most difficult or complicated scenario to research?


Q:

How many people have asked you to make buster swords?

A:

Why should knowing we are indeed small in time, space, and size have anything to do with insignificance. Bacteria surely don't feel that way and they are billions of times smaller than us, yet they do most of our digesting. Ant's surely don't feel that way yet they likely represent nearly 20% of Earth's biomass. Why not instead think of how awesome it is that our 3lbs Human brain matter actually figured all this out. Why not look up to the clear night sky, and reflect on the fact that we don't simply live in this universe, but the universe lives within us -- through the atoms and molecules of our bodies, forged in the hearts of stars that long-ago gave their lives to the galaxy ... and to us. This is, of course, one aspect of the cosmic perspective that perhaps I and my astrophysics colleagues take for granted, but cannot be told often enough. -NDTyson


Q:

Adventure/fatal tourism would be a fantastic way to go. Death by visiting the dinosaur era would be particularly interesting, but also likely lethal. Your best bet would be to live in the trees. Most of the particularly nasty predators in the dinosaur era were focused on the ground, although Pteradactyls show up around 100 million years ago, and those would be a problem.

Mars would also be a fantastic place to visit, but alas you would only have around 15 seconds to enjoy it before the lack of oxygen caused you to pass out. (And you couldn’t hold your breath, because the lack of pressure would squeeze all the air in your lungs out of you.)

A:

Like 10, but they always get scared off by the price estimate. :(


Q:

What's your favorite book?

A:

I'm not sure if I'm more curious about the cool ray guns on your back shelf or the painted fingernails.

Anyway -- is it possible to successfully commit suicide the cool way?


Q:

Is thst because of the material cost of a buster sword, the effort it'd take to forge such a thing, or because it's just completely unfeasible and you're just teasing them.

A:

As a middle-school kid: "One Two Three Infinity", by George Gamow and "Mathematics and the Imagination" by Edward Kasner and James Newman. On the fiction side, nothing compares for me to "Gulliver's Travels", by Jonathan Swift. Not the Lilliput story that we all know, but the rest of Gulliver's voyages. That's where most of the deep social commentary is embedded. In later life, I can't get enough of Issac Newton. "Principia", in particular. The most influential book ever on what we call modern civilization. It established the fact that the Universe is knowable and that mathematics is the language it uses to communicate with us. -NDTyson


Q:

As of now, the ray gun only works as a blunt force instrument. But we're working on that.

A:

There's simply a lot of material and work involved. Especially if it's meant to be wieldable by an unaugmented human. :)


Q:

Hello Neil,

I work at a Christian school. One of my co workers (the science teacher) was banned from showing cosmos. The administrators who banned it (due to a parent complaint actually) refuse to watch it to judge for themselves.

What would you say to them to convince them to change their minds or reconsider?

A:

Ok, my friend did an experiment in a class of hers where she put a sheet of paper on a scale and took its weight, then crumpled it into a tight ball and took its weight again. It read more the second time. I said that when it was flat it must have been similar to when you filled a balloon with air and it would feel lighter than the deflated balloon because it was displacing air, and she was adamantly convinced that somehow crumpling the paper increased its mass and weight somehow (her words).

What would be the exact explanation so I can finally put this argument to bed?

Edit: Fucking hell, y'all care more about this than I do


Q:

So how much would a replica as close to the original size, but still wieldable by a person cost?

A:

In the USA, education is entirely local -- a surprise to most of the developed world. So a Christian school, or even a public school, could if they wanted to teach anything at all. It's just a matter of voting influence on a school board. If they fear the contents of Cosmos, they simply fear what science tells them about the natural world.

FYI: Galileo (a devout Christian) famously once said: "The Bible tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heaven's go.

So even he saw the line in the sand between the two. But this is 21st century America. And what matters here are the consequences of not teaching science to school children. Innovations in science and technology are the engines of tomorrow health, wealth, and security. So any school district that eschews the discoveries of science has disenfranchised itself from the future of civilization. They can still reap the benefits of it, but they will be paying to obtain (or gain access to) the discoveries of others, and no emergent industries will move their HQ there, if scientifically literate employees are nowhere to be found.

-NDTyson


Q:

To really get to the answer of this interesting observation I would request a dozen or so repeats of the experiment to get an estimate of the measurement errors plus the data sheet for the scale giving the error in the display of the answer.

I predict though that the two papers, crumpled and flat will have the same weight, unless the flat paper is drooping off the scale and brushing against the table.

A:

I'd price it at around 2200 USD


Q:

You've said a black hole is the most interesting way to die in space. What is the second most interesting?

A:

Ok, so I need to buy a really sensitive scale, and possibly a vacuum chamber. Got it


Q:

That's about around what I'd expect. It's a lot of metal and it can't be easy to work with something that large. How would you go about making it? Would the blade be all one piece or would you have to combine several?

A:

Hmm. Maybe a closeup view of a Supernova explosion. One of the greatest events in the universe. Happens maybe only once per century per galaxy. It would look beautiful up close, right up until until the energy intensity vaporized you. -NDTyson


Q:

Yes a good vacuum chamber would get rid of all buoyancy effects. Measurements are never easy!

A:

If it was meant to be wieldable, I'd make the blade out of several angled plates rather than a single piece of steel. :)


Q:

Will we find live outside Earth within 100 years from now?

A:

How close are we to intersteller travel?


Q:

I see. I don't mean to keep pestering you, but how much would the sword weigh if it was an exact replica not meant to be wielded and how much if it was?

A:

Can't answer that, but I can give another kind of response -- I think in the next century we will know for sure whether there is or was ever life in the solar system -- especially on all the fun spot that keeps us wondering from afar -- Mars, Europa, Titan, Enceladus. -NDTyson


Q:

I think that as soon as the USA goes metric we'll have interstellar travel.

A:

I estimate a wieldable replica at 5kg with good optimization. A forged, full one? Eh, 30 kg easily.


Q:

Hello, have you ever seen Rick and Morty? If so, what do you think of it?

A:

Is there something that is surprisingly not guaranteed death ?


Q:

Is that possible to make that sword as a pipe shaped like a sword?

A:

Embarrassed that I've never seen Rick and Morty. But I'm generally a fan of smart animation. And now that you've called me out, I'll put it on my list. -NDTyson


Q:

Paul D: In our "What would happen if you lost your head" chapter we meet two people, one was missing 95% of his brain and still had an IQ of 126, and another,Phineas Gage, survived having a one inch diameter 3 foot long steel rod pass through his head from bottom to top.

A:

Sure. With proper geometry, it can be made hollow and still be highly durable.


Q:

Neil, you're a great mind who helps reach out and bring many people new curiosity for science & I applaud you for that.

I am not as intellectually inclined as I wish I was but I feel confident as a good orator and communicator having worked sales jobs.

I don't believe I have the capabilities to go into a STEM degree so what do you think young people in my generation who cannot go into STEM should strive for?

also how'd you like the movie "Life"?

A:

This isn't really a way to die but I've always wondered if you created a room in the very center of the earth, would you float in the middle of it? Since gravity would be pulling on you equally in all directions?


Q:

Can anyone with the passion and time and money learn how to forge blades? How long does it take? Do you really need a mentor (it seems like you might since it's such an art form)?

Also, have you thought of competing on Forged in Fire?

A:

What matters in society is not how many STEM professionals are running around. What a boring world that would be if we were all scientists and engineers. The world needs poets and artists and actors and comedian, and politicians, and even lawyers. What i see is that if you like STEM, but for whatever reason will not become a STEM professional, you can still gain basic levels of science literacy in your life, and blend that awareness into your work. This is already happening in the Arts. There's no end of art installations, sitcoms, dramas, screenplays, first-run movies, that have been inspired by science. Including The Martian, which helped turn the word "Science" into a verb, and Avatar, the highest grossing film of all time. So if your will not become a scientist yourself, then do not hesitate to allow science to serve as the artist's muse. Next in line -- scientifically literate politicians. -NDTyson


Q:

Indeed if you could create a cavity inside the core of the earth you could float in the middle of it. Net gravitational force would be near zero. Alas it's hotter than the surface of the sun, but enjoy free fall while you can.

A:

Never thought about competing on Forged in Fire. I prefer to work at my own pace. :)

As for learning - OF COURSE. In fact, it's a simple thing compared to what we learn at universities nowadays. It's no rocket science. All you need is some tools, the will to learn and a tiny bit of crafting talent. The knowledge is freely available on the Web.

In fact, to make a sword, you don't even have to actually forge a blade - you can make it by grinding and its quality will be AT LEAST as good as that of a forged one!


Q:

Who are your favorite philosophers? Do you think philosophy is still relevant today?

A:

Other than a magnetar, are there any sources of magnetism that will kill you directly (ie: not by accelerating some external object)?


Q:

What is the most modern sword type out there (in terms of materials and smithing technique)?

A:

Francis Bacon is up there. I recently came across a book of his that was filled with accounts of experiments he conducted, which may have informed his important philosophical conclusions about the value of experiment in finding scientific truths. This was around the same time as Galileo, who arrived at the same conclusions. Of course back then, "Natural Philosophy" was practically synonymous with what today we call Physics.

In the 20th centruy, when the atom revealed itself to our experiments, and the expanding universe entered our largest telescopes, it made philosophizing about the natural world harder than before, where now, what's true no longer issues forth from our senses.

Experiments matter. And if you do experiments, we generally call you a scientist and not a philosopher.

Plenty of philosophy frontiers abound, including Moral & Ethical Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Religious Philosophy. And there are still-emergent fields that could benefit from some smart ideas about where they should look next, especially in studies of consciousness, neuroscience, and ecology. -NDTyson


Q:

There are no magnetic sources on Earth that will directly kill you (yet). We have yet to create a magnet that strong. However, scientists have created magnets a few tesla strong that can float frogs, because the water in a frog (and you) is diamagnetic. And if they could make that magnet big enough, it would float you as well. Youtube has a cool video of floating frogs here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlJsVqc0ywM

Futurama has a cool episode where a human visits a robot world and the robots discover they cannot kill the human with any level of magnetism, they do however discover that penetrating the human with a sharp stick will stop it.

A:

Huh. That's an easy question, actually. My Chromium-Molybdenum new generation XVa-s. :)

http://store.audentia.eu/product/xva-sword-path/


Q:

Greetings Neil,

I have looked up to you aside many others as you've stood as a figure of change and education in my life and the lives on in countless others. So here's my question.

Are you skeptical about the advances in high-pressure physics with the discovery of metallic hydrogen ?

With that being said do you think metallic hydrogen will replace liquid oxygen in our ambitious plan to reach Mars by 2030 ?

A pleasure for your time,

Thanks Anthony.

A:

If I had a sphere large enough to fit a person (size isn't relevant) and the entire inside was a mirror, what would happen if I shined a light for a second. Would the light bouncy around infinitely or would it only be present while the light was on?


Q:

are there any interesting swords made with ceramics or carbon fiber?

A:

Metallic hydrogen is not a new idea or concept. It's actually why on the Period Table of Elements Hydrogen typically appears on both the left and right side -- with metals (on the left) and with gases (on the right). In any case, whenever we enter the domain of new element behavior or new molecular properties, it's just a matter of time before new and cool applications follow. So I have no crystal ball, other than to say that in the hands of clever engineers and artists, cool things come from cool scientific discoveries. -NDTyson


Q:

Paul D: Alas no mirror is perfect, some light energy is always absorbed on each bounce. So when you turned off your light source, the emitted light would bounce around getting exponentially dimmer.

A:

Not that I heard of. But metallic glass/amorphous steel sound incredibly interesting as a potential swordmaking material.


Q:

Is science the arbiter of reality? If so what are some of the problems/limits of adopting that epistemology exclusively?

A:

Are you familiar with Randall Munroe's (the xkcd guy) What If? project? He explores very similar questions and also published a book.

What differentiates your project?


Q:

are there any techniques you borrow from people who make cutlery?

A:

Science is the most effective thing Humans have ever invented to decode what is real and what is not in the world and the universe. If anybody every comes up with something more effective then we'll be all up in it. The limits, as I see it, are the occasional blind spots that result from looking for something we hope or expect to find, rather than for the unexpected. For this reason, in my field, when we deploy brand new telescopes we try to reserve time for them to enter a kind of serendipity mode, where it looks for anything, rather than what we seek. Big science is also driven by money made available by governments. So when conducted properly, it doesn't affect what is true but what kinds of discoveries of made -- possibly in the service of the state rather than in the service of the individual curiosity of the scientists themselves. -NDTyson


Q:

I love Randall Munroe's book What If?, we credit him as an inspiration for our book on page 235.

A:

The methods of grinding the blade into shape are similiar. :)


Q:

Hello Dr. Tyson!

I think I have an idea of what your answer might be, but I'll ask anyway. What are your thoughts and predictions on President Trump's executive orders regarding energy and the environment?

...and as always...

WHEN IS THE NEW SEASON OF COSMOS COMING???

A:

What made you decide to name the book And Then You're Dead, and not how to go out like a badass. But, in all seriousness, what would you say your favorite thing to research for this book was?


Q:

Can I run away and become your apprentice?

A:

Trying to get the Band back together on the Cosmos thing. Nothing green-lit yet. But we are all hopeful Lots of pistons need to align. Thanks for that interest.

As for Trump's Executive Orders, sixty million people voted for him. And he won US counties by a landslide. So if he did not do what he promised them (or what we all expected of him) then he would not be serving his electorate. Now, if he passes Executive Orders or if Congress enacts legislation that will disrupt the long-term stability of the country and of the planet, then the problem is not Trump, but your (our) fellow citizens who do not fully understand this problem and need to become informed (as is true for any voter) so that when we elect leaders, there is some correspondence between objective reality and governance. -NDTyson


Q:

Well, for one we didn’t think of as cool as name as ‘How to go out like a badass’. Bummer for us. The original name was “Gruesome”, but then we were told gruesome was too, ummm, gruesome for a lot of people. So we went with the much more cheery ‘and then you’re dead’. Although it is a bit of a spoiler to the end of many of these.

The favorite thing to research? Perhaps digging the hole to china. Actually getting the details on how long it would take to fall to the other side (longer than an airplane, depending on your connections and ignoring some of the other gruesome side effects).

A:

If you're asking for permission you're doing it wrong. :D


Q:

On the set of Zoolander 2, did you get the opportunity to smoke with Willie Nelson?

A:

What's your favorite kind of ice cream?


Q:

What is it like studying the blade while I am partying?

A:

yes, i did have a cameo in Zoolander 2. But Ben Stiller made me do it. Especially the end scene, rendering my face as the last thing you see in the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu0rFVwX2Ok

But no, we were all (the cameo celebs) choreographed to come on and off set in pre-set timeslots. There was not a single room where we all hung out, waiting to be called. I did overlap with Billy Zane and we've become fast friends.

So my answer to your question is no, I did not get high with Willie Nelson on the set of Zoolander 2. -NDTyson


Q:

Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen!

edit: I feel a word of warning is necessary here, however: If you are dealing with liquid nitrogen, don't fall into the tank. Nitrogen freezes the water in your cells into crystals that pierce your cell membranes, resulting in the cells leaking to death when you thaw. (This is the problem with cryogenically freezing your head after you die, in hopes of revival. No one knows how to warm you back up without the ice forming those crystals and stabbing your cells to death).

A:

While you were mastering the blockchain, I was having premarital sex


Q:

What are some personal or career goals you haven't yet achieved?

A:

Do you enjoy pickles?


Q:

There seems to be a real shortage of smiths who look at late-historical swords, e.g. French small swords and other 17th century (and later) weapons. Have you done any work in that area?

A:

To foster an entire generation of scientists as educators so that I can fade away and not even be noticed for having done so. That's would represent a stunning future of science literacy in the land. That's a career goal in the sense that then I can return to the lab and publish research papers again. That's my possibly delusional career goal at this time in my life. -NDTyson


Q:

Cody likes dill, Paul likes only the comic strip.

If you really enjoy pickles, you can eat four one liter jars of pickles before your stomach bursts along the lesser curvature.

A:

I've made several rapiers under one of my masters, but haven't delved into the subject at my own workshop yet. I know how to make a complex hilt from a single piece of steel, however! :)


Q:

Do you think advancements like those being made at space-X will have meaningful impacts on our goals to go to Mars within the next decade or two?

A:

I'll bite. How do you make a complex hilt from a single piece of steel?


Q:

I'm simultaneously one of Space-X's biggest critics and supporters. I've said many time and many places, e.g. http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/buy/books/space-chronicles that projects that are hugely expensive and dangerous, with uncertain returns on investments make poor activities of profit-driven companies. Governments do these things first, allowing private enterprise to learn what to do and what not to do, then come next with a plan that involves us all. So my read of history is that private companies will not be the first to send humans to Mars unless government actually pays for it. -NDTyson

A:

With operations such as drawing out and forge welding. It's a lot of work, but it's possible. Hell, people already did it 300 years ago.


Q:

Do you know you're the champion of r/iamverysmart ?

A:

Swords?


Q:

Nope. Learn something every day. -NDTyson

A:

Swords!

(Enchantment!)


Q:

I used to really dislike him. Thought he was smug and obnoxious. Then I listened to him on Joe Rogan's podcast several weeks ago. He's actually cool. Listen to the man actually have a conversation and not judge him by factoid tweets and other similar snippets. I got you, /u/neiltyson. You're a bit misunderstood. Just trying to educate. Respect.

Edit: Added 6:55 EST, he replies to a comment where someone asks about him being an asshole.

A:

Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!


Q:

I don't mind being misunderstood. It simply raises my educational bar. Educators who are persistently misunderstood should not call themselves educators. -NDTyson

A:

Go for the eyes, Boo!


Q:

Hi, i've been watching you for a long time on YouTube.. also i'm a visitor on a few of your streams. And yes, i am Polish but let's keep it English. So, i've got a question; It's quite interesting and rare to meet a person online who've been raised in a hamlet. So, can you tell me a little bit more about that? What kind of lifestyle did you have, in the terms of arising technology.. and also, gaming. Yes! I remember you mentioned gaming, when did you start? And, what do you think of the game Gothic if you played it? Cheers!

A:

I was raised by farmers, so as a child I worked the fields, milked the cows, pastured the horses... I spent most of my free time wandering the woods.

Around 1999 I got a PC from my uncle. It was a Celeron 366 and it allowed me to experience games such as Sacrifice, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Gothic.

It was about 2002 when I first encountered THE INTERNET at a public library a few villages over. It blew my mind. :)


Q:

Hi, How can I start swordsmithing? Can you recomend some books? (Polish language would be preferable)

A:

I don't know of anyone who learned to make swords from a book. :( Sadly, most of those available in Poland were written in the 80s and are terribly outdated, filled with inaccurate knowledge and long-debunked myths.

I think learning from YouTube videos is entirely possible nowadays, if you're determined enough.


Q:

So can you recomend some channels instead? ;)

A:

Man at Arms is very entertaining... and VERY educational actually. The guys know what they're doing. :)

There's also an excellent armormaker on YouTube, Eric Dube.


Q:

Thank you, subbed. Btw you're making great job on yt. I'm waiting for more of your videos.

A:

Thank you! I've got some cool things coming, stay tuned! :)


Q:

If there are no good recent books, sounds like you just found yourself a money making opportunity

A:

Haha, that's not a bad idea actually.


Q:

Wouldn't you say this leaves the field wide open for someone like you?

A:

Oh, the stuntsman lobby is very insular. It's nigh impossible for an outsider to enter the Hollywood/high budget TV stunts environment. The producers mostly rely on outdated, tragically inept teams when it comes to stage fighting.


Q:

The 40k feder you did was absolutely stunning. If you could design a feder or longsword based on any other Sci fi/fantasy/pop culture theme which would you chose?

A:

The Lord of the Rings! The art in the movies is quite stunning. Also, the assassin symbol of Assassin's Creed would be pretty awesome on a federschwert. :)


Q:

I agree the art of the lord of the rings is amazing. Id be a liar if i said they werent half the reason i have a sworder (sword boner, im trying to get it to catch on).

However, what if you had to choose a theme not generally associated with swords/high fantasy?

A:

Dune. Definitely.


Q:

What are your favorite youtube channels?

Also, you should definitely do a 'Draw my life' video!

A:

I watch Angel Vivaldi a lot, such a brilliant guitar player.

From the big ones: Man at Arms. Vsauce. Videogamedunkey. The smaller ones? Metatron! :)


Q:

I want to become a blacksmith.

What is the best way to start?

A:

Well, actually... watching YouTube videos is a very good way to start. You will soon notice the basic tools that you need: an anvil, a forge, a hammer, a grinder. Experiment with those, keep learning from YouTube... and eventually you will get the hang of it.


Q:

So im off to a decent start than. Good to know. Ive been slowly gathering supplies. The major one im not sure what to do about is the forge itself. Do you have a suggestion?

A:

You can purchase a propane forge quite cheaply at... eh, what was their name? Devil Forge. They sell their stuff through eBay.

If that's too steep, consider making a coal-powered "drum brake forge". I heard it can be done for ~50 USD or so. :)


Q:

What would you say of the sword choreography in the movie equallibrium? I love the movie and find the right scenes intriguing and different.

A:

Love it. It was considered a Matrix rip-off back in the day, but the gun-fu choreographies were entirely different. Very original, very dynamic.


Q:

When you were young did you have sword fights with other boys?

A:

No. But I remember I wanted to. :D


Q:

I see a cool sword on the shelf of some antique store. How can I make sure it's not going to snap in half when Hank comes at me?

A:

It's actually not that easy without taking apart the hilt. Many shitty replicas look exactly like decent replicas.

One of the ways is to grab the sword just under the crosspiece with one hand and hit it on the pommel with the other. Full time blades will vibrate along the whole length, while false tang/rat tailed ones won't have that kind of nice harmonic. :)


Q:

Hey! I have always been curious about the choice of using curved blades vs a straight blade. In my mind, in a combat situation I would not want a curved blade as it seems like it would get stuck. Also, full disclosure I like Game of Thrones and am thinking of the Dothraki sword, but have been to a lot of museums and seen many curved blades.

Any insight on straight vs curved?

A:

Curved blades are actually better at slicing cuts and don't get stuck as easily as 'chopping' straight blades. But there are downsides: smaller reach-to-weight ratio and single-edged... ness.


Q:

I get that for like a scimitar or a ghurka type blade, but what about the really curved ones?

A:

Ehh, not very practical in my opinion. I'm still not sure why the Egyptians invented the khopesh instead of using straight blades. :)


Q:

I always wondered if it was for hooking and pulling shields down in a tight formation, a bit like axes and various polearms could. Does that sound plausible to you?

A:

That sounds like a possibility, yes!


Q:

I saw your latest video and your mention of attempting to legitimize the Witcher fighting style was of great interest to me. Based on the small sequences you've shown in that video, the style seemed highly reminiscent of Meyer. What would you say are the differences between the Witcher style you are developing and the Meyer longsword discipline that are of note?

A:

Well, Meyer certainly loved his wide, beautiful strikes. But he also advised agression, true to Liechtenauer's legacy - while the Witcher style, as portrayed in the games, suggests a highly defensive art, where you set up traps for your opponent to fall into rather than engage him with a direct attack. :)


Q:

Hey, how did you first get into fencing ? As a matter of fact, I would like to do so but can't find any HEMA instructor nearby, do you know how to find one ?

A:

I found my first fencing master from a recommendation - a friend of mine trained with him and invited me. :)

It's much easier nowadays - just jump on Facebook and ask on groups such as the HEMA Alliance or HEMA International. :)


Q:

Alan!!

Long time fan, it's awesome to see you here on reddit! I just wanted to let you know, that almost a year ago, I saw you on YouTube for the first time while looking for cool Witcher videos. It was thanks to you that I learned that HEMA was a thing, and because of how much I enjoyed your videos, my girlfriend signed me up for Longsword lessons as a birthday gift. I've now been studying longsword for about 8 months, and it's been amazing to get me in shape (I've lost 40lbs!), and I actually just competed in my first Saber tournament as well! Thank you so much for putting your content out there, and being the inspiration to start this life-changing hobby.

My question to you would be, if you could go back and give some advice to yourself when you started your first year of learning how to fight, or to anyone else new to the hobby, what would you tell them?

A:

That's a heart-warming tale! You've done great, my friend! And I'm proud as hell that I actually helped someone find their way into the art. :)

As for the question: "Trust in the thrust. Don't parry low blows, strike over them from above." That would be my advice... to my past self.


Q:

A man with an eye patch once told me that swords are not for decoration. What's your stance on that?

A:

They will fucking cut you open


Q:

You ever seen r/mallninjashit?

A:

Sure. :D


Q:

How did you motivate yourself, at 15, to just move away and start doing what you did? Was anxiety a big issue and if so what did you do to alleviate it?

A:

It was a matter of necessity, I think. I could no longer bear to live in a small society. I wanted the world. My parents disagreed, so I had to make the escape. Sure I was afraid, but at the same time I firmly believed I could survive and thrive on my own.


Q:

Where did you go? How were you not homeless?

A:

I was lucky enough to get a bed at a dorm. I had it planned while I was running away. :)


Q:

Have you spoken with your parents since?

A:

Actually, yes. I talk with my mother over the phone from time to time. But not too much.


Q:

So, how do you feel about threaded pommels?

Do you think "End Him Rightly" is a viable technique in sword combat?

A:

I wouldn't rely on it, but I can see it working sometimes in a duelling situation.


Q:

Other than making money, and fulfilling the dreams of fantasy enthusiasts what value do you see in swordsmanship in todays world? While I understand that waving a big blade around may be intimidating it seems rather impractical as you are unlikely to ever encounter another person with which you will need to do combat with outside of some hobbyist association. Further, as a self defense weapon it seems rather useless as a long blade in tight quarters is more a hindrance than a benefit. To say nothing of the old "sword to a gunfight" premise......

A:

I see it as a martial art: something that is worth preserving and practicing, but isn't directly useful in the modern world. I also see it as a unique sport with merits greater than all others: fencing trains the body and the mind (it's like chess with turns lasting tenths of a second). But beyond that...? I wouldn't recommend a sword as a self-defense weapon (even though it's far from useless in tight quarters), nor would I go to war wielding one.

In fact, I don't think it needs an external justification. It's a brilliant sport with a connection to our history.


Q:

As someone with an interest in smithing and with a decent stock of free raw material, how could I possibly go about trying to figure out what kind/grade of steel it is? Or does it matter, if I'm going to try heat treating or tempering it? I kind of figured I'd just make a forge out of a 30 gallon grease drum and start seeing what I could make and learn from there, but I'd really like to know what kind of steel I have laying around and what it'd be best suited for.

A:

If you want to make a high quality blade, it's absolutely crucial to determine the type of steel. What are the origins of your free raw material?

You can spark-test the steel to check the carbon content (more carbon=more sparks), but it isn't always telling - there are excellent kinds of blade steels that contain very low amounts of carbon (~0.3%).


Q:

The pieces are from large shipping crates (not sea containers, they bolt together and get covered with something for shipping) for large CNC machinery, and they're either from Japan if they're Mori Seiki machinery or Germany if they're DMG machinery.

There are some pieces that are just about the perfect size for grinding and heat treating to make some easy machetes. I experimented with a piece, one of those purely 'back-of-the-envelope' type deals, where I got it to red-hot in my wood stove and quenched it. Both before and after I whacked it against another piece of steel to see how much it would deform, and there was definitely a difference after heat treating, but I don't have the best idea of what I'm doing. If I remember correctly from grinding a piece a while back it was pretty sparky, and they're getting fairly rusty from having sat outside.

Thanks for the response!

A:

If there's a hardening effect after such a low temp quench, it definitely has a decent carbon content. Are you planning any further experiments? :)


Q:

Do you regret running away from home? Can you tell us about some of your experiences?

A:

No regrets at all. Experiences? Well, it was hard at first, being in a new place with no one to turn to. But I managed to secure a cheap bed at a dorm and found a job as a blacksmith's helper. I made friends quickly. I applied to a high school.

It would never be possible without the craft: smithing is what kept me fed and clothed back then.


Q:

Hello there. This is fellow YouTube sword guy Will Keith, channel BBillyK. Just wanted to say thank you personally for all your videos that have helped me in the past.

Also, what do you think is the absolute best portrayal of sword combat in a video game so far? Have you tried Mordhau yet?

A:

Haven't tried Mordhau! But I really liked sword combat in Devil May Cry, does that count? :)

As for realistic portrayals... I'm looking forward to Kingdom Come: Deliverance.


Q:

How did you leave? By horse??

A:

On foot actually. Caught a bus on the way.


Q:

While you studied the blade, what were others doing?

A:

Mostly complained about girls not being interested in them.


Q:

Hi there! I'm not really a smooth, but I like to cast metal jewelry as a hobby (or at least I'm a beginner in it).

I've always wondered what the difference is between casting and forging something was. Is it really just as simple as forging it is stronger?

Also, do you have any advise for casting jewelry? I've been attempting investment casting with plaster molds, but no luck so far.

A:

Oh, forging is much different: it is capable of creating shapes that are hard to achieve with casting... et vice versa. Also, in swordmaking casting a blade isn't really an option.

As for casting advice? Well, investment casting is how they did it in the past, mostly. But if I had to cast anything nowadays I'd use modern molds and a spinning casting machine. :)


Q:

Have you ever made famous movie sword replicas. Or more importantly, have you ever made Drizzt's scimitars?

A:

Oh, I even sketched the designs for Drizzt's scimitars but haven't had the time to work on them yet.

As for movie replicas? No, but I make Ciri's swords from The Witcher 3. :)


Q:

How did you learn English? Your writing sounds totally native, and your speech is easy to understand and relaxing. It really made me enjoy and learn from your "Basics" videos. Speaking of which, do you plan on expanding on those?

A:

I read books in english. :)

"The Basics"? Well, I was just thinking about developing that series!


Q:

What is your opinion on spears, halberd, and other various pole arms? In my mind, they seem like the optimal weapon (that doesn't shoot something). Unless it's close quarters, like if you were fighting in the pantry it would be trash.

A:

Polearms ruled the battlefields. Swords were a secondary weapon (unless they were two-handed swords).