Secrets of the Samurai Sword (Full Version)

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English archers had their longbows, Old West sheriffs had their six-guns, but samurai warriors had the most fearsome weapon of all: the razor-sharp, unsurpassed technology of the katana, or samurai sword. In this program, NOVA probes the centuries-old secrets that went into forging what many consider the perfect blade.

The beauty and lethality of the curved steel blade became identified with the distinctive culture of those who wielded it so expertly: the samurai warriors of medieval Japan, celebrated in countless Japanese woodcuts, prints, and films. Fifteen traditional Japanese craftsmen spent nearly six months creating the sword that NOVA follows through production, from smelting the ore to forging the steel to sharpening the blade to a keen edge, capable of slicing through a row of warriors at one swoop; although NOVA does not put the super-weapon to this ultimate test.

Not that samurai sword fighting has died out; far from it. The program also traces the schooling of a modern-day devotee of samurai combat: Midori Tanaka, a receptionist for a Japanese electronics firm by day and a blade buff by night. For Tanaka it’s a family tradition, since her father, Fumon Tanaka, is a grand master swordsman.

Father and daughter show their mutual respect with a breathtaking test of skill. Midori draws a bow, aiming an arrow directly at her father’s heart. His only protection is his sword. When she releases the string, he slices the speeding arrow in half, inches from its target.

Japanese sword-making developed centuries ago, before electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and other tools of modern materials analysis enabled scientists to understand exactly why the swords are as good as they are. Professor Michael Notis of Lehigh University, an expert on samurai swords, sheds light on the principles that underlie the weapons’ strength, resilience, beauty, and distinctive shape.

For example, during smelting, iron-ore sand is heated with charcoal, which provides a source of carbon that alloys with the iron to create steel. Ancient craftsmen deliberately stopped just short of a uniform liquid state for the white-hot steel, which resulted in a product with varying amounts of carbon throughout. The harder high-carbon steel was forged into the sword’s edge, which had to be hard and sharp, while the more resilient low-carbon steel was used as the core of the weapon to produce a blade resistant to breaking during combat.

This sandwich of two different types of steel contracted at different rates during rapid cooling, or quenching, which caused the blade to warp lengthwise, giving it its distinctive curve that proved so deadly when wielded in a slashing arc. “The unique aspect of the Japanese sword is that the craftsmen were able to put the right materials in the right place to get optimum properties for the entire object,” Notis tells NOVA.

Without access to the insights of modern science, Japanese craftsmen a millennium ago worked out an exacting method that is still followed by a devoted few and that produces the Stradivarius of swords.

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Counter Intelligence - Shining a Light on Black Operations , 4.7 out of 5 based on 21 ratings
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Counter Intelligence – Shining a Light on Black Operations

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This 5-part documentary is a great expose on the national surveillance state that has arisen over the last 50-100 years. Manipulating elections, overthrowing foreign governments, and secret assassinations are just a few of the heinous acts committed in the name of national security. Now that Edward Snowden has blown the lid off of the NSA’s Prism snooping program, this film series is even more important and relevant.

Part 1: The Company
This film takes a very informative and provocative look into the illegal and covert operations of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.). It lays out the historical foundations of the modern surveillance state.

Part 2: The Deep State
For the first time during the Iran-Contra scandal, Americans get a look at the secret programs and operations of their government. Other topics include Watergate and the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is essentially a massive coverup that allows criminal syndicates to generate massive profits and commit acts of murder and bribery with impunity throughout the United States and South America.

Part 3: The Strategy of Tension
The Strategy of Tension examines the history of false flag operations used for war, propaganda and psychological operations–or ‘psy-ops.’ Operation Northwoods and Operation Gladio are examples used to illustrate the nature of clandestine operation planning and execution; as well as shedding light on the intent and extent to which the National Security apparatus manipulates events and manufactures outcomes to suit its goals. This programme also looks at the issues that spin off from the history of false flag operations–such as how conspiracy theories are used to discredit inquiry and investigative journalism; and also how the cultural preconditions around dismissing false flag operations serve to protect their continuation and ‘plausible deniability.’  Description from: http://thoughtmaybe.com

Part 4: Necrophilous
An examination of torture, war crimes, and abuse of authority during protests and war. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay Cuba shed light on the US security state’s attitudes towards those who resist (or are accused of resisting) the American Empire’s attempt at global hegemony. Islamophobia – largely a construct of media propaganda – is the driving force behind American’s lust for war in the middle east and Americans’ tolerance for crimes against humanity and “collateral damage”.

Part 5: Drone Nation
After President Obama signed the 2011 NDAA, the US government is allowed to kidnap and detain its own citizens without any warning or notification. A simple accusation of “terrorism” is all that is needed to murder innocents with drones from command centers thousands of miles away. Whatever your opinion of Anwar al Awlaki, his 2011 murder by drone strike, and subsequent lack of outrage, sets a dangerous precedent for Americans’ liberty and security from
its own government.

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Counter Intelligence - Shining a Light on Black Operations , 4.7 out of 5 based on 21 ratings
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