Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 09, 2021

On Testing Steel

There was a life before I started to write about politics at Moon of Alabama. So when a news story comes up that relates back to my previous life as an industrial engineer I will certainly read it and at times even write about it. Here is one of these.

Metallurgist admits faking steel-test results for Navy subs

A metallurgist in Washington state pleaded guilty to fraud Monday after she spent decades faking the results of strength tests on steel that was being used to make U.S. Navy submarines.

Elaine Marie Thomas, 67, of Auburn, Washington, was the director of metallurgy at a foundry in Tacoma that supplied steel castings used by Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to make submarine hulls.

From 1985 through 2017, Thomas falsified the results of strength and toughness tests for at least 240 productions of steel — about half the steel the foundry produced for the Navy, according to her plea agreement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The tests were intended to show that the steel would not fail in a collision or in certain “wartime scenarios," the Justice Department said.

The strength of the special kinds of steel that allows submarines to go deep without imploding must be assured under all circumstance. (Especially when one wants to move undersea mountains by running into them, as the USS Connecticut recently tried.) Special castings on submarines are often used where things like the periscope or cooling water lines penetrate the hull. To have any potentially brittle material at those places could be catastrophic. Due to the falsified test results the navy might have to reduce the maximum allowed diving depth for some of its submarines.

But the reason given by Thomas for falsifying the test results is what I find really concerning:

When confronted with the doctored results, Thomas told investigators, “Yeah, that looks bad,” the Justice Department said. She suggested that in some cases she changed the tests to passing grades because she thought it was “stupid” that the Navy required the tests to be conducted at negative-100 degrees Fahrenheit (negative-73.3 degrees Celsius).

This is an alarmingly 'stupid' quote from someone who is supposed to be a metallurgist. These tests are not 'stupid' but necessary.

There is one standard test for impact strength of steel that is regularly done at subzero temperature. It is the Charpy V-notch toughness impact test (video).


For a Charpy impact test a part of a casting is cut off and machined into a well defined piece with a notch. Its edges are then put against an anvil. A swinging hammer comes down and destroys the test piece. The difference in heights of the hammer at the starting position and at the end of the swing is an expression of the energy that was needed to destroy the piece.

It is a simple, easy to do test and the results can tell a lot about the material characteristics of the test piece. The pictures below shows the test results for two kinds of steel. The upper piece fractured but did not break apart. The more brittle one below snapped.


Depending on its inner crystal structure the toughness of a metal can change with its temperature. More brittle material has a body centered cubic structure (BCC) with one atom sitting in the middle of a cube formed by eight other atoms. Tougher steel alloys have a face centered cubic crystal structure (FCC) where an extra atom sits at each face of the cube.

BCC structure - bigger

FCC structure - bigger

To find out which type of structure a piece of metal has one can cool it down and do a Charpy impact test at very low temperatures.


Below a certain temperature steel with a body centered (bcc) cubic crystal structure will suddenly become weak while steel with a face centered cubic structure (fcc) keeps it toughness. A Charpy impact test at low and normal temperature allows to differentiate between those.

The crystal structure of steel can be influenced in the foundry during the casting. The alloying, the temperature of the melt, the speed of cooling and/or an additional tempering will all effect the structure.

If the foundry has made a mistake during a cast it might have produced a steel with the wrong structure and characteristics. Material testing is the way to find out about possible mistakes. A Charpy test at different temperatures is a simple way to determine if mistakes were indeed made.

To skip the test or to falsify its values, as the person in question has done in this case, is a big no no.

But what really concerns is me that Thomas either did not know or ignored the above. She thought it was “stupid” that the Navy required the sub zero tests even while there are sound and rather simple reasons for these. One wants to differentiate 'good' steel from 'bad' one. It is not only the U.S. Navy which requires such tests. The classification societies and insurers for civil ships and the oil and gas industry have similar procedures.

When the metallurgist who was being trained to replace Thomas found out that she was falsifying test results he immediately recognized the gravity of the problem and informed the company. It was the right thing to do. 

During a part for my engineering education I did an internship in the material testing lab of a large shipyard. We did the coooold Charpy tests only once a week because we needed liquid nitrogen to cool down the test pieces. Liquid nitrogen has a boiling point of −195.8 °C (-321 °F). It evaporates fast but is fun to play with (vid) which I, of course, did a lot.

Posted by b on November 9, 2021 at 19:53 UTC | Permalink

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@Henry Smith - Not condoning what she did, but what is the minimal temperature a submarine would expect to be exposed to in real operational conditions ? Or put another way where did the -100 Def F come from ?

If you had really had read the piece above you would have noticed that the low temperature test is not done because the submarine will have to dive in this or that temperature but because it tells you what crystal structure the steel has.

The crystal structure (austenite or ferrite) determines a lot of other properties of the steel including its behavior under mechanical shock (explosion, crashes). You want to be sure to have the right one in the hull of your boat.

Posted by: b | Nov 10 2021 18:14 utc | 101

@vk Nov 10 2021 6:02 utc | 62
@c1ue c1ue | Nov 10 2021 15:26 utc | 91

Foundries do not produce plate steel. The steel they sold to Navy has nothing to do with submarine shell and accidents similar to the recent one in South China Sea (or Titanic) can not be attributed to substandard steel.
Foundries produce castings which mean propellers, gear boxes and other mechanical items which have nothing to do with “collision”.

Process from receiving RFQ (Request for Quotation) until closing of the project is too complex and I have no intention to spend time explaining all details in here.

In short, foundry receives RFQ Package from client which contains fabrication drawings and at least 500 pages of “supporting requirements” (Standards, Specifications, QA/QC requirements, various procedures etc,).
One of those documents is named Operating Conditions (or Site Conditions) where they put min and max “environment temperatures” or “operating temperatures” (among other things) which supplier has to bear in mind.
There is also a number of various standards and specifications which very often contradict to each other and which buyer can always use to flip-flop their requirements at their will. In the Scope of Work there is always somewhere sentence “in case of discrepancies the most stringent requirement will govern”.

All those requirements are unfair to the supplier and they put him in an inferior position towards buyer. But if you want the job you have to comply. Of course, you can always reject unfair conditions (which I have done sometimes) but than you will be put on the black list and there is no work for you anymore.

Once foundry receives RFQ, the sales guy (estimator) will normally forward all those technical requirements to engineering (for well established clients he want even bother to do that because they already know all that by hart).

Let’s say Mrs. Thomas has received the package from the Sales Department, she checks operating conditions (let’s say +40 C/-10 C) then on the list of standards she sees the ASTM Low Temp Steel standard and correctly concludes that that particular standard is not applicable.

Let’s move few months forward.
Castings were delivered, machined and assembled and submarine is ready for commissioning. But foundry still did not get their money because they have paperwork to submit. And by paperwork I mean at least 10 binders of documentation. Navy has at least 10 guys that go page by page to confirm everything that was requested in RFQ Package is there. And someone will say: “Where are test results for -73 C?”

And that is the point where the game starts. You can argue that operating conditions are such that testing is not required but they pull the clause about “more stringent requirement” and Navy has unlimited resources to sue you. Contract always have an Article about Liquidated Damages which says that you have to pay all work required to replace the parts you have supplied (at inflated hourly rate) which means you can announce bankruptcy right away.

Foundry still has test pieces which could be used to conduct required tests and to satisfy the client you proceed with testing. All values come back satisfactory but yield at -73C is somewhat below. Now you are put under pressure to “adjust” the results a little bit or to sink the company.
You are very well aware that your part will not fail at -73C because all crew will be dead at -50C but on the other hand you risk what is now facing Mrs. Thomas. So, decision is yours.

I am sure that everybody new what has been going on. Mrs. Thomas was pretty naïve in all of that because foundry was not under obligation to keep all those records for 30 years. They could have sent piles of old documentation to the landfill and everything would have been fine.

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 18:19 utc | 102

@ Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 18:19 utc | 102

Your argument is irrelevant because the company itself admitted the sabotage, not the Pentagon.

By the supplier's own standards, it was a sabotage by one of its own employees, therefore the requirement was not "unfair".

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2021 18:24 utc | 103

@karlof1 | Nov 10 2021 17:28 utc | 97

While not precisely the same, the falsification's goal was the same for both--greater profit

You are not aware about reality on the market. It is not about maximizing the profit, it is about surviving unfair competition from China and government policies are favoring import against domestic products.

Whenever I put RFQ for some castings I receive two prices for the same part from the same company. One price is for “made in China” and the other one is for domestic product and about three times more expensive.

Posted by: LostInTime | Nov 10 2021 18:30 utc | 104

Re: Posted by: NOBTS | Nov 9 2021 20:51 utc | 10

I know the person who (supposedly?) made Ti golf clubs (in USA) from an old Russian Sub; he lost his job when the new parent company discovered some "creative" accounting on his watch (and rumors about his relationship with his secretary might have played a part). Last I heard, he got busted for cocaine in the parking lot of a strip club.

The underlying problem is always the pressure to show short-term profits. Ensuring - and worse, proving - high quality always costs money, and doesn't directly contribute to producing the parts in the most cost-effective way (in the short run). MBA rule leads Corporations to create internal pressure on middle management to MINIMIZE - not optimize - costs, so Quality Departments are often underfunded & undermanned. This often leads to (slightly) higher profits, for a while, but eventually blows up - just like the case in the OP - leading to worse costs in the long run (penalties, legal costs, and - sometimes/theoretically - loss of reputation).

But since Manufacturing Companies often change hands every ten years, the postponed costs often hit after the responsible party has sold the business (& the problem) to someone else.

In the Metal products company I worked for, I'd say that there was a big quality scandal at some Plant about once a decade. There were always efforts to keep it quiet, so I usually only heard rumors. The old Manager would get fired (or re-assigned?), a new manager would come in and [pretend to?] focus aggressively on Quality, things would be OK for a while, then eventually a problem would pop up at a different Plant.

It's a wonder anything ever works.

Posted by: elkern | Nov 10 2021 18:44 utc | 105

@105 elkern - It's a wonder anything ever works.

Yes, it astonishes me too.

I've thought about it a lot, and I can only conclude that ordinary people are so much more "good" than they are "bad" - that in fact they carry the world. And most people try to do a good job of things, and get satisfaction from gaining a good result, even in the most minor of things. The corruptions come from extraneous rewards, not from most people's intrinsic nature.

Somehow enough good is fabricated that the systems of the world don't fail much, despite the chiselers shaving the weights and measures along the way.

But Ayn Rand had it right, I have long thought, in her sense that something was holding up the world. Her mistake was to place this with the "captains of industry". But we have learned by now who really is John Galt.

We now see clearly that it's the ordinary people, the essential workers, the front-line caregivers, the first responders, the whistleblowers, the testers and examiners before they get hobbled, the teachers before they get reprimanded, the doctors and scientists before they get vilified...

These are the Atlas that hold up the world, and wherever and whenever they form a small unit of solidarity and Shrug, the thieves tremble with fright in their dens.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 10 2021 19:05 utc | 106

NoBTS @ 10, Paul @ 65

Crowns totally outrank Pritzkers. I have always wondered and never been able to determine if Pritzkers are junior members of the club or merely highly placed servants.

Regarding purchase of Electric Boat, 1959. Crowns already had General Dynamics. In 1950 Lester Crown, the heir apparent, married Reina Schine, daughter of Junius Myer Schine, arguably the senior Mafioso at that time and certainly one of top three. Schine’s main business was 150 hotels (and the casinos and brothels operated on premises). J. Edgar Hoover and his tootsie Clyde Tolson took all their vacations at Schine owned hotels and resorts. Frequently took meetings with JMS while at his hotels. So was the FBI aware? Um, a simple investigation if anyone wanted to do it. Reina’s brother David was what the Army-McCarthy hearing were about. Everyone knew the score. No secrets in Washington. Yes, they were fine with mob owned defense contractors.

A better question would be how completely connected, by marriage or by birth, other defense contractors are. You will not find six degrees of separation. All closely held. What is the difference anyway between a defense firm and a mob operation?

Remember Crowns also owned First National Bank of Chicago and are now prominent in JP Morgan-Chase. If you wondered why banks appear more and more as criminal organizations now you know.

Posted by: Oldhippie | Nov 10 2021 19:10 utc | 107

2021 Review and Revision US Critical Minerals List, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey:

Posted by: Paul | Nov 10 2021 19:32 utc | 108

LostInTime @104--

I don't know how the market works!?!? Oh yes I do! I know why China is able to undersell a company located within the Outlaw US Empire because it's all about profits--Rentier Profits that go to the FIRE sector which make production costs so much more than in China and make it nearly impossible for an Empire-based company to compete. That's the Market Reality no one wants to examine because it would totally undermine Neoliberalism within the Outlaw US Empire, and that isn't what the Donors want.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 10 2021 19:42 utc | 109

A simple solution presents itself.
Sell the current US nuclear subs to Australia (for a bargain basement price) and then resupply the US fleet with new fully certified steel.
Two birds - one stone.
Who wouldn't want to be a submariner in the US these days?

Posted by: digital dinosaur | Nov 10 2021 19:48 utc | 110

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 10 2021 19:42 utc | 109
Posted by: Oldhippie | Nov 10 2021 19:10 utc | 107

Mercouris in discussing Sullivan's interview with CNN shows how the "donors", the US oligarchy, views the world as its turf to freely exploit through its globalized rules based international order, its "values", its weaponization of human rights. It is the ideology of corporate fascism.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Nov 10 2021 19:56 utc | 111

I would surmise that a submarine operating at temperatures significantly below 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit would surely be encased in ice and lost. Testing for negative-100 degrees Fahrenheit is far beyond anything possible or survivable, as at even zero degrees Fahrenheit the submarine hull would be crushed by ice irrespective the quality of the steel. The test seems to be technically irrelevant at the specified temperature.

Posted by: Karl | Nov 10 2021 20:10 utc | 112

Falsifying data, chain of command blindness or cutting corners to appease the boss. The story of how the MV Golden Ray capsized and the dodgy NTSB report is a case in point.

How many other ships make this $$ saving trick with the ballast water and calculations? A 26 minute utoob worth watching.

In this case I cannot see how the Navy had no attendance at the tests or did not make random sample verification tests. There is more to this story than blame the woman I suspect.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 10 2021 20:16 utc | 113

re fake data and its pervasive version called FAKE NEWS...yields INSANITY.

On the subject of faked lab tests, faked testimony, faked accounting methods, etc there is a connection to insanity. ..a proven connection.

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov [1849-1936] won a Nobel Prize In his study on digestion of dogs, observing stimulus conditioning and salivating, etc . Arguably his greatest discovery goes unheralded: He learned that dogs, under threat electric shock for making a wrong decision. are driven insane.
Briefly, the experiment: dogs were given food for choosing the square target and shocked for choosing the round one. Then the "conditioned" dogs were presented the same choice with the square target's corners being more and more rounded...until they could not decide [ascertain with confidence] and went insane under the accumulating stresses.

Now consider FAKE NEWS. The resulting, accumulating stresses of being unable to confidently make correct decisions threatens a person's survival...whether it's poverty, homelessness, bad healthcare, bad drugs, forced drugging...all based on accumulating FAKE NEWS mixed with truthful news.,, fake data mixed with truthful data...or missing or withheld data/news or simply schooled with 2nd-hand information the authorities claim to be the truth...or the authorities deliberately omitting vital data.

Inability to think...inability to understand...inability to reconcile "opposing views"...inability to correctly decide how to pay rent, eat healthy, fix the transmission, get and keep a job, pay medical expenses...yields progressive insanity.

We are here.

Posted by: chu teh | Nov 10 2021 21:03 utc | 114

amd more to the point...

Only the insiders know the whole truth.

Posted by: chu teh | Nov 10 2021 21:06 utc | 115

Posted by: Oldhippie | Nov 10 2021 19:10 utc | 107

It's hard to know the actual hierarchy of the US Mob, it is so incestuous, throw into the historical mix assorted presidents, congressmen, movie moguls, lawyers and unions.

My guess is the hierarchy has become soft and changeable similar to the French and Australian milieu model, not one Mr Big but plenty of Mr Big Enoughs.

To Determine the ranking of Abe Pritzker, think Hyatt Hotels, relative to the ranking of the Crown crime family, I thoroughly recommend the 600 p book, 'Supermob' by Gus Russo. They are all billionaires and violent criminals with powerful patrons.

Posted by: Paul | Nov 10 2021 21:14 utc | 116

Karl | Nov 10 2021 20:10 utc | 112

I'm thirsty and have 2 bottles of water with no labels. I know one is pure and the other is contaminated with poison. Both look and smell the same. I choose simply by checking and observing the freezing and boiling temperatures
and density behavior.

Posted by: chu teh | Nov 10 2021 21:25 utc | 117

I was at a University open day. A grad student was demonstrating flowers being frozen in liquid nitrogen and shattering.

I asked if that would happen to humans and stuck my hand in the nitrogen and then hit it on the table.

Did you know grad students can scream!

(I knew about the Leidenfrost effect)

Posted by: Jezza | Nov 10 2021 21:34 utc | 118

Does BCC represent some kinda local energy minimum? Can it be annealed into FCC (assuming FCC is the global minimum)?

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Nov 10 2021 23:45 utc | 119


I think you're running in faster crowd than I!

Thanks for your post; amazed to see how many of your customers didn't get that rather simple fact.

old hippie@107
Always happy to hear more about ol' Henry and his family. Sad that RFK was led into a Schine owned Hotel back in '68.

Posted by: NOBTS | Nov 11 2021 1:50 utc | 120

Regarding the Titanic... it was indeed the virtually identical sister ship, the Olympic, that was sunk, deliberately. The collision had bent its keel irreparably. The naval engineers that had designed her concluded that she would probably do well enough for the coming summer season then would probably break apart in the high seas during the winter. The boat was towed to Belfast, where the Titanic was being readied for her maiden voyage and the names were changed. The original lettering was found on the boat when the wreck had been located and an explorer device sent down to take pictures.

As for the structure... She was designated unsinkable because of her watertight compartments, intended to prevent all pervasive flooding in the event of a hit by a torpedo, in anticipation of the coming war that the British had long been preparing for with the launch of the Dreadnoughts. However...

J.P. Morgan had bought the White Star Line with the idea of sticking it to Cunard, which had launched the Lusitania and the fabulous Mauritania and was planning yet third, the Aquatania, billed as "all the luxury a millionaire can handle" (its launch was delayed by the war). The Olympic was the first of White Star's competing trio, the Titanic was the second, and the Gigantic was to be the third (it became the Majestic, in the end).

To save money, recycled steel was used. First-rate steel might well have resisted enough of the impact to make the tear across the side tolerable and let her limp the rest of the way to New York. Also, to save money, the watertight bulkheads were not built up to the top of the ship, which means that when the front compartment had filled to the top of the bulkhead, the water broke through into the next compartment, which was already filling up. When the second had filled, it also overflowed in the same way, and so on until the front half of the ship was so full of water that the ship went under. The break is thought to be due to the immense stress on the front part from the flooded watertight compartments that pulled her under while the stern, still mostly full of air, resisted.

In another profit-oriented move, a huge section of the boat deck from which the lifeboats were to be launched was devoted to private promenade decks outside the deluxe suites, which were going for about $5,000 and responsible for a major share of the income on the crossing. So, there was nowhere near enough lifeboats.

The captain was a White Star Line flunky who could easily be blamed afterward based on his previous record.

The Olympic/Titanic was sent out in the middle of a major coal strike when the cost of coal was colossal because it was being brought in from the Continent where the coal producers were taking advantage of the shortage of coal in the U.K., where coal fueled just about everything, with the U.K. ordinarily self-sufficient in coal. A second White Star Line passenger liner, temporarily out of service because of the lack of coal, was sent out at the same time with a full crew, no passengers but 3,000 sweaters and 3,000 blankets, to pick up the passengers. They missed the rendez-vous.

The day before the sailing the insurance on the boat was doubled. As soon as the sinking had been confirmed, White Star collected. There were two hearings, one in London, one in New York. In the London hearing, a ocean-liner officer with long experience on the North Atlantic run was called as an expert witness, and he testified under oath that in the dead of night, under the stars, an iceberg big enough to damage a boat the size of the Titanic (it was the biggest ship afloat, slightly bigger that the Olympic) could be discerned at least two miles away, giving the captain time to veer away. Also, there was a major iceberg warning out. The witness's testimony was dismissed as irrelevant...

It was easily the biggest insurance fraud in history, £10 million, and those were 1912 pounds sterling, when the overwhelming majority or workers were paid in shillings and pence and were lucky to see a one-pound note a few times in their life but never a fiver.

Morgan was to preside over the sumptuous celebratory maiden voyage, but cancelled at the last minute, along with a significant number of other from the upper crust. Morgan's excuse was that he was too sick to travel even in the luxury of the Titanic. Two days later her was seen sporting on the Riviera.

Posted by: RJPJR | Nov 11 2021 2:42 utc | 121

@121 RJPJR

Many thanks for that story. I'm always pleased to see your name here, I greatly enjoy your journalism. Wow, what a story. I shall have to explore all of that to flesh out the bare bones you supplied.

I'm trying to calculate in my head if £10 million back then is greater or lesser than the $6 billion that Larry Silverstein skimmed out of the Twin Towers insurance fraud. Could have used 3,000 blankets for that one too, an interesting coincidence.

In both cases the morality is of the same void.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 11 2021 3:36 utc | 122

@ Walter

"My only qualification was the ability to read and think"

Since you have freely confessed to being a dangerous intellectual, you will only need to work for a short time in the camps before your execution.

Posted by: RoHa | Nov 11 2021 5:40 utc | 123

RE: Posted by: Matthias | Nov 10 2021 12:56 utc | 78

“My point is why does the Defense industry not have practises that are commonplace in Petrochemical industry? “

All defence ministries and manufacturers have “regulated QA practices” that are specified/followed/regulated differently – including not regulated at all – in various countries/industrial sectors, often varying as a function of purpose and profit potential of/for the participants, which in turn are functions of the facilities of the partipants and the socio-economic environments within which the participation is effected.

It is a very complex laterally interacting processes and a component of reasons for the opportunities/implementation of ongoing strategies of The Russian Federation to transcend “The Soviet Union”, where in large part profit potential was represented as attainment of plan upon which many incentives were based.

Profit potential and its representation as attainment of plan, is/was a function including, but not restricted to productivity including productivity of logistics.

Hence Gosplan who was complicit in

The formulation of the plan

Designated as a prime agent in the monitoring of the plan

Almost sole determinant of whether the plan had been achieved to facilitate the levels of payment to be given to all workers in “The Soviet Union” including themselves

Primary sources for reporting the state of the state – Mr. Marshall's contrived division of labour of the economic and political not being replicated - to the “politicians” who believed they determined “state policy” - in the “West” this was often reported by way of interest rates and GDP
which could be/is varied depending on what was included and what was excluded from the notion GDP, and the completion of various unaudited reports/statistics in areas of manufacture.

So reasonably as a function of the above Gosplan and its interlocuters including Soviet workers and the politicians, spun increasingly divergent narratives, the basis of the Russian saying that “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.”

Although not apparent to some as a function of the increased number of participants, similar processes have been ongoing in various coercive social relations.

“ US Navy has no competition, and did not lowered their standards for sure “

The coercive social relations self-designated as “The United States of America” are predicated on competition almost to the degree of all competing with all hence precluding being united, the competition of the US navy including but not being limited to branches of the US navy, other branches of the “military establishment”, and cooperative social relations world-wide.

Hence my observation in a different thread re “Black bread”, that 1971 was an interesting time in the acceleration/divergence of vectors which were even perceived in the “West” in 1969 after the Tet offensive in 1969.

Hence the “currency mutations” and policy of detente based on spheres of influence of 1971, and Mr. Paul Craig Roberts book which he sought to limit to Russia by entitling it “Alienation and the Soviet Economy” 1st edition 1971 published by University of New Mexico, which was republished in 1990 by The Independent Institute, and used as part of the “play book” for the attempts at colour revolutions in the former “Soviet Union” throughout the 1990's.

The “Steel reporter” was/is merely emulating an increased encouraged trend, as do Mr. Milley and his associates by “encouraging” a reprise of the policy of detente based on spheres of influence by three “hegemons” and a component of why a former US ambassador to Russia subsequently annoited with the headship of the CIA paid an urgent and discreet visit to Moscow last week.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 11 2021 10:23 utc | 124

Paul @ 116

I’m from Chicago. As a child, Elmhurst. Went to high school with Joan Aiuppa. She lived in River Forest, brought to school daily by Cadillac limo. Usually a chauffeur. After school it was often Joey Doves driving. I will assure you that much of mob ‘history’ is dramatized for effect.

Have inadvertently met both Jay and Penny Pritzker. Also know two of Jay’s ex-girlfriends. Best I can say about them is they are very public people, active, gregarious. Everyone has personal anecdotes about the Pritzkers. They are zeros. Everyone who meets them is invariably underwhelmed. Very normal smallbore people playing roles. None that I know of has made any sort of marriage alliance worth mentioning. When it became clear that Penny and Rahm and Valerie really were Obama’s friends and who he chose to spend time with was when Chicago understood that no matter how well connected and well born Obama might be, he was a figurehead and a place keeper.

Posted by: Oldhippie | Nov 11 2021 11:16 utc | 125

@ RoHa | Nov 11 2021 5:40 utc | 123 ( Execution )

I shall assume that's a promise, thank you! However the assumptions are subject to criticism. Like Ripper said, two can play at that game.

Posted by: Walter | Nov 11 2021 12:04 utc | 126

I notice several people having trouble between 'direct' testing of properties where the measured behaviour is directly relevant and properties from which you deduce a different quality. I am guessing this is because the requested measurement results are not sufficiently removed from the actual properties you want to know about so they get confused.
If you say 'I'll measure boiling temperature of this water to check if it doesn't have too much impurities in it' nobody will consider the test unrealistic 'because you don't drink it at that temperature'.(maybe they'll say there are better ways to test this though) But with this steel test you are testing mechanical properties which are 'not far away' from what you actually want to know.
This Charpy test is also a bit the other way round from a nondestructive test and that may also increase confusion. There exists a nondestructive strength test for concrete where you measure how hard a well calibrated hammer rebounds on the concrete. This way you find out how well it resists breaking without breaking. I doubt if many people will experience the same confusion about that.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Nov 11 2021 13:10 utc | 127

@LostInTime #102
Are you speaking to this specific, US military/US government procurement situation or to your own experiences in a general commercial sense?
Are the statements you put out based on this specific case or based on your past experiences - and what are those experiences?
You seem to be saying is:
1) Bad behavior on the tester's part was to offset bad behavior on the buyer's part. Maybe so, but it is nonetheless still a combination of ethical and professional breach of conduct.
2) Competition from China - this is what makes me suspect you are transplanting personal commercial experiences to this specific non-commercial example. I am 100% certain the US military is not permitted to source base materials from a foreign manufacturer. There are simply too many sabotage, espionage and other negative effects.

As such, extrapolating from a commercial experience to the above federal/military procurement fiasco seems extremely problematic.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 11 2021 13:24 utc | 128

@Robert Macaire 119

As I understand it, for all temperatures below about 700 deg C, the bcc or 'ferrite'  phase of iron and steels is the thermodynamically stable one,  with minimum free energy. Above that temperature, the thermodynamic free energy is minimised instead by the fcc or ‘austenite’ phase in the iron carbon system.

Relevant literature indicates that the purpose of a low- temperature charpy test is to estimate the ‘brittle to ductile transition temperature ‘ or ‘nil ductility transition temperature’ of the steel.

As b and others have mentioned this particular  temperature is a useful marker or indicator of the microstructure and related mechanical qualities of the steel specimen. Microstructure has many features, including crystal grain size and distribution of other inhomogeneities such as carbon-rich precipitates within the ferrite matrix.

The brittle-ductile transition temperature is not a thermodynamic phase transition or change from one crystal structure to another.  Rather, it is an  ‘immobilising temperature ‘ for defects in the existing bcc crystal structure,  known as dislocations. At higher temperatures around room temperature, mobility of dislocations in the bcc ferrite phase is what allows steel to  have some ductility and to therefore be mechanically tough, rather than brittle.

By contrast, metals with a fcc crystal structure do not have a brittle-ductile transition.  This is because the layers of atoms  are completely close-packed in planes running diagonally through the fcc unit cube.

This makes the metallic bonds between neighbouring atoms in those planes less directional, allowing free movement or wavelike propagation of the dislocations in those planes in response to mechanical stress. This allows fcc metals (copper, aluminium lead and others) to remain ductile at all temperatures, especially when ‘pure' elementally, with low impurity concentrations.







Posted by: johnF | Nov 11 2021 18:05 utc | 129

Posted by: johnF | Nov 11 2021 18:05 utc | 129

Thanks, nice.

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 11 2021 18:30 utc | 130

Thank you, Bemildred.I should have mentioned also that some specialised steel alloys do remain in the austenitic fcc phase at lower temperatures, down to room temperature and below.

Familiar examples are stainless steels with high concentrations of chromium or nickel or other additives. At concentrations of several percent or more, these additives modify the thermodynamic stabilities of the different crystalline phases significantly.

I don't know anything about specialised applications of steel alloys in submarine hull design. For some critical design components subject to stess concentration especially, I can see however that even a slight reduction in toughness could pose significant risks of structural failure, as b mentioned.

If specialised austenitic steel alloys are used in such applications, test temperatures around -73 deg C might be low enough for a charpy test to be of practical use for a few of these alloys as well, I don't know.

The thermodynamics of such 'non-dilute' alloys can be be complex and variable even at cryogenic temperatures. In that hypothetical case, it seems reasonable to expect however that a metallurgist would or should know what they were doing and why they were doing it, and therefore wouldn't 'cut corners'

Posted by: johnF | Nov 11 2021 23:41 utc | 131

johnF @129

Thanks for correcting my mistake. It seems that I confused toughness with stability.

I was also trying to figure out, at the atomic level, why BCC becomes more brittle at very low temperature. My understanding is that what holds atoms together in a metal is an electrical force: a force of attraction between ions and the sea of electrons. I was thinking that maybe at very low temperature, the electrons become less mobile, they are more attached to the atoms, which reduces the force.

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Nov 12 2021 4:01 utc | 132

RE: Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 11 2021 10:23 utc | 124

“Hence my observation in a different thread re “Black bread”, that 1971 was an interesting time in the acceleration/divergence of vectors which were even perceived in the “West” in 1969 after the Tet offensive in 1969. “

“The “Steel reporter” was/is merely emulating an increased encouraged trend, as do Mr. Milley and his associates by “encouraging” a reprise of the policy of detente based on spheres of influence by three “hegemons” and a component of why a former US ambassador to Russia subsequently annoited with the headship of the CIA paid an urgent and discreet visit to Moscow last week. “

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 12 2021 13:29 utc | 133

The thermodynamics of such 'non-dilute' alloys can be be complex and variable even at cryogenic temperatures. In that hypothetical case, it seems reasonable to expect however that a metallurgist would or should know what they were doing and why they were doing it, and therefore wouldn't 'cut corners'

Posted by: johnF | Nov 11 2021 23:41 utc | 131

Well, I'm a software engineer if I am anything, but I read a lot. And I appreciate your explanation because it is easy to follow and makes sense from what I have read about such things.

I think it comes down to "if you want reliability, you have to test a lot until you are SURE you have it all down pat. And even then you will fail once in a while".

Lots of software is buggy, not because they are bad programmers, but because nobody wants to pay for testing and it is no fun to do.

And likewise, if you want "resiliency" (new buzzword) you are going to need plenty of redundancy, and spares and such.

In any case, thanks again, and post again when you feel like it.

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 14:14 utc | 134

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 12 2021 13:29 utc | 133

Wendy Brown: Well, it's an interesting frame for the issue, to be sure. More than adequate.

I don't usually pay much attention to Hedges, so thanks for the link.

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 14:29 utc | 135

RE: Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 14:29 utc | 135

“ it's an interesting frame for the issue”

Perhaps you missed the “s” ?

The practice is quite popular in some “cultures” as illustrated in the Roadrunner cartoon.

" but because nobody wants to pay for testing and it is no fun to do."

Not only; "recycling" is also prevalent, particularly in social relations immersed in precedent, whilst some find testing hypotheses by implementation “fun to do”.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 12 2021 15:30 utc | 136

So you are annoyed about it or something?

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 15:50 utc | 137

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 15:50 utc | 137

“So you are annoyed about it or something? “

Thank you for your “American” reflex response - apt given the title of the article.

Enjoy your journey.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Nov 12 2021 16:50 utc | 138

No, Bern, no.
That lady is not stupid. She is LOYAL.
She is obviously loyal to her company and to US Navy.

Don't tell me you believe it is possible in 30 (THIRTY) years no one did and no one was supposed to do independent verification of the steel, of the hulls.
The hulls that separate sailors' lives from death - and US Navy not for a single time check their quality?

Can it be?
In one clear case: that was exactly the steel USN opted for.

They knew steel is substandard, and they also knew that steel is cheaper. Where did the cost difference go? I believe you understand it as well as me and as everyone else here.

So why did the lady said about "stupid" tests?
Obviously to cut the ties and to PROTECT her people, in high chambers of the foundry and in high chambers of Navy.

She is not stupid, she is not ignorant, she is loyal and protective even in this direst day of her life when she goes down so her friends can live another day.

Posted by: Arioch | Nov 12 2021 20:16 utc | 139

You are very welcome. Enjoy yours.

"The journey is the reward."

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 12 2021 20:16 utc | 140

Walt | Nov 10 2021 2:10 utc | 51

#37 As far as I am aware x-ray diffraction needs a thin sample, and the x-rays pass through (and are diffracted in doing so). Such were the catalyst samples I have had tested periodically.

Not absolutely sure, but I think that if one pointed a small beam of X-rays (Preferably monochromatic) at a flat specimen of steel and photographed the back reflections, you would get a different pattern depending whether the specimen was BCC steel or FCC.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 12 2021 20:47 utc | 141

Blue Dotterel | Nov 10 2021 18:08 utc | 100

If ever anyone needs being put off having a vaccine against CV19, tell them to watch Dr John Campbell interviewing Nikki.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Nov 12 2021 20:53 utc | 142

Robert Macaire @132

Sorry for my belated reply. Yes, like all ‘interatomic chemical bonding’, metallic cohesion is electrical in nature. However, the brittle to ductile transition in bcc metals at low temperatures is not due to a slowing down or a reduction of the kinetic energy of the valence / bonding electrons.
As light elementary particles with very low mass, electrons have some peculiar ‘quantum mechanical’ properties. One of these is that the ‘orbital’ velocities of the electrons around an atom are quite high, of the order of 1000 to 2000 km per second. The velocities of the valence electrons in condensed phases (solid or liquid) remain similar to the velocities in isolated atoms. These velocities are not affected much by temperature at all, at least for temperatures of order of 10, 000 deg C or more, above which the atoms start to ionise.

The origin for the brittle – ductile transition in bcc metals lies in some characteristic differences in the 3-dimensional spatial arrangement of the atoms (more precisely, actually the ionic cores of the atoms) in the bcc lattice structures, as compared with fcc lattice. The fcc structure has fully close-packed planes, lying perpendicular to the four body diagonals of the fcc unit cube shown in b’s diagrams. Every atom in these planes is ‘touching’ six neighbours in the same plane. Consecutive close-packed planes in the fcc structure therefor have maximal inter-planar spacing compared to other sets of parallel planes, since they contain the maximum possible number of atoms.

This large separation minimises the extent to which the bonds have to be disrupted as the planes try to slide or ‘slip’ over each other under the action of an applied shearing stress. That disruption is further minimises by the close-packing of the atom within the planes, which minimises the size of the ‘slip steps’ or ‘slip transitions’ that are required. Slip steps are the elementary processes by which ‘inelastic’ (‘plastic) deformations associated with metal ductility and toughness occur, in response to mechanical stresses that are sufficiently large.

By contrast, in the bcc structure, there are no close packed planes (no two –dimensional close packing). There is only a one-dimensional close-packing direction, along the body diagonals of the bcc unit cube. Each atom is only able to ‘touch’ two nearest negbours in these atomic rows, rather than six, as in the fully close-packed planes present in the fcc structure.

As a result, the body-diagonals are the favoured directions of easiest slip in bcc metals. The possible ‘easiest slip’ planes that contain the body diagonal slip directions in the bcc structure are planes that contain paqirs of parallel face-diagonals and the diagonally opposite and parallel edges of the bcc unit cube. These slip planes are not close packed, and are therefore more closely spaced (smaller inter-planar separation of neighbouring sliip planes) than in the fcc structure, making slip in bcc more difficult, especially at low temperatures.

Event in the fcc structure, the amount of energy that would be required to make an entire plane slip by one atomic slip step over one of its its two neighbouring planes is very large. In all practical situations, the slip is able to proceed by a series of steps, one row of atoms at a time, due to the presence in real crystals of large numebrs of inherent and spatially extended line defects, or ‘fault lines’, known as dislocations.
In fcc metals, there are three easy slip directions in each slip plane, parallel to face diagonals of the fcc unit cube. In each of the four fcc slip planes, dislocations can move (propagate) quite freely without impediment in those three directions, at all temperatures. The fc structure is therefore said to have 4 x 3 = 12 physically equivalent and active ‘slip systems’ (slip system = slip plane + slip direction) at all temperatures above absolute zero. For a metal to be fully ductile for all possible directions of applied stress, its crystal structure needs to have a minimum of five active slip systems.

By contrast, the bcc structure has 6 slip planes, each with two easy slip directions (along the two body diagonals of the unit cube contained in each slip plane). The number of slip systems in the bcc structure is thus 6 x 2 = 12, as for fcc. Below a certain temperature however, all twelve of the physically equivalent bcc slip systems ‘freeze’ and become inactive, because they need some extra ‘thermal activation’ or ‘atomic vibrational energy input’ in order for slip of dislocations lying in these slip planes to occur.
There are a number of informative websites that discuss the relationship between crystal structure and metal ductility. These include the ones linked below:

Influence of the lattice structure on the ductility

What is the diference between fcc and bcc crystal structure?

Posted by: johnF | Nov 22 2021 6:23 utc | 143

Sorry, the last sentence of the second paragraph of my previous post should read: '....for temperatures of order 10000 deg C or less', not '10000 deg C or more'

Posted by: johnF | Nov 22 2021 6:50 utc | 144

Robert Macaire @132

You were of course correct in linking the low temperature brittleness of bic metals to the energy of the bonding / valence electrons. However, it's their electrical potential energy that is actually relevant, rather than their kinetic energy.

The potential energy of the electrons is more sensitive to the exact positions of the atoms relative to each other in the bcc structure than in fcc. That's really just another way of saying that the metallic bonding is 'more directional' in bcc.

The electron kinetic energies are by contrast largely insensitive to atomic position in metal crystals at practically relevant levels of pressure and stress, just as they are practically unaffected by temperature.

Posted by: johnF | Nov 23 2021 6:17 utc | 145

Thank you for publishing the appropriate content.قهوه جوش فلاویا

Posted by: فلاویا | Nov 25 2021 8:28 utc | 146

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