The mysteries out there

In addition to the wild speculation by conspiracy theorists, experts and media types are floating a range of ideas as to what might have happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, its 12 crew members, and the 227 passengers on board. Without finding the plane or solid evidence of its whereabouts, there’s no telling exactly what caused the jetliner to vanish. At the time of writing there was still no official information supplied. This mystery has certainly kept the world engrossed especially if you think of how many of us fly.

According to Wikipedia, the territory of Ukraine has been inhabited for at least forty four thousand years (questionable) and it is where the horse was first domesticated. The history of the country reveals many chaotic periods of warfare, most notably after the Russian Revolution, with the Soviet Army establishing control in late 1919. During World War II the Ukrainian Insurgent Army tried to reestablish Ukrainian independence and fought against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But in 1941 Ukraine was occupied by Nazi Germany, being liberated in 1944. Ukraine became independent again when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Now Russian President Putin is now putting the country through another period of turmoil, which in all probability will lead to warfare. Again there is wild speculation but why we ask ourselves? The mystery is intriguing.

Casting metals into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal into a mould, and removing the mould material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools has been around for thousands of years. The most common metals processed are aluminium and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronze, brass, steel, magnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed.

Cast iron was first produced in China during 5th century BC but was hardly in Europe until the medieval period. The earliest cast iron artifacts were discovered by archaeologists in what is now modern Luhe County, Jiangsu in China. Cast iron was used in ancient China for warfare, agriculture, and architecture. During the medieval period, means were found in Europe of producing wrought iron from cast iron (in this context known as pig iron) using finery forges.

The technique of metal working by melting and casting was established in Britain about 4000 years ago. Working of wrought iron followed by the mid-first millennium BC, but the production of cast iron did not occur until the 15th century and was initially limited to simple items such as grave slabs, fire backs and cannon balls.

The main growth in casting of ferrous metals came with the industrial revolution. A series of technical breakthroughs in the 18th and 19th centuries enabled cast iron, and later steel, to be produced in large quantities at a much lower cost than wrought iron. Steel (with smaller carbon content than pig iron but more than wrought iron) was first produced in antiquity by using a bloomery. Blacksmiths in Luristan in western Iran were making good steel by 1000 BC.

Iron is the most widely used of all the metals, accounting for 95% of worldwide metal production [citation needed]. Its low cost and high strength make it indispensable in engineering applications such as the construction of machinery and machine tools, automobiles, the hulls of large ships, and structural components for buildings. Since pure iron is quite soft, it is most commonly combined with alloying elements to make steel.

This is a brief and unqualified history of the castings industry. However the total world production of castings exceeded 100 million tons in a year for the first time in 2012 and according to experts continues to grow. Yet the science of foundry practice and more specifically molten metal, although more technologically advanced these days, still remains a mystery to most.