Wannas Kittamaquand placed nine arrows into his quiver. How many to carry was a toss of the bones. He needed to be able to run as fast as he possibly could, but he also needed protection from the Romans and Sandhaveners who would be trying to kill him. He considered for a moment, then took one arrow, an armor piercing bodkin, out.
Okay, eight it was. Four bodkins. Four barbed.
That was about the right balance. Had to be.
He knew himself, and if he had more it would be hard to keep from using them instead of doing what he must: running away.
It would be really satisfying to have a straight shot at one of the soldiers who had been starving the people of his city for the past month. Really satisfying and deadly where he was about to go.
It would be a mistake unworthy of the task he had before him.
He almost ordered the others who would be with him on the breakout to pare down the number of arrows they were carrying. But no. He had chosen them, almost in the same way he’d picked his arrows. He had chosen the best from the warriors he knew. Some were friends. Some competitors in the city games he’d faced time and again.
Carbon composites, carbon nanotubes, buckyballs—if you follow science news, you are bound to have read about these “wonder materials” and the promise they hold for finally enabling the science-fictional devices we fans have been reading about for decades. From space elevators to impenetrable body armor, there are abundant speculations that these dream devices will transition from science-fiction to science-fact within the foreseeable future. The announcement of each new wonder material brings with it abundant opportunities to realize far-flung hopes and fantasies. The 19th and 20th centuries gave us many wonder materials to transform our world. Many elements were found in the 19th century for the first time; aluminum began as a wonder material before eventually evolving into the abundant commodity it is today. Around the turn of the 20th century, plastics were invented for the first time and have come to irreversibly change the face of this planet. Liquid crystals shook up chemists by establishing that molecules can be liquid but still have order like normal solid crystals. High explosives and nuclear weapons changed politics forever. Now, there is another material that needs to be added to the list. One that has been all around us since our discovery of graphite (though we didn’t realize it), and is rapidly advancing from a topic within fundamental research to a material used in commercial products: graphene.
What would you think if I told you that hidden in ordinary graphite, the “lead” used to make pencils, is a material more than three hundred times stronger than steel and capable of carrying current nearly as efficiently as a superconductor? What if I told you that its discoverers initially isolated it using not much more than Scotch™ Tape and a tenacious graduate student? The flaky structure of graphene and graphite allowed them to be pulled gently apart, like pancakes off a stack.