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From: "Peter T. Cash" <PTCash@ibm.net>
Subject: (urth) Terminus est--another military procurement fiasco?
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 22:29:53 

>From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>

>Anybody have any notions how Terminus Est came into the possession of
>Palaemon? The sword, after all, is no mere carnificial sword, but a
>valuable weapon, owing to its smithing by Jovinian (Agilus claims it's
>worth a villa). But Palaemon is a mere torturer and the guild itself

This brings to mind some thoughts I had on Terminus Est when I first read
about it. The sword is described as having a hollowed blade, partially
filled with mercury (with the rest of the space consisting of a near
vaccuum, I assume). Allegedly, this makes the swing really powerful while
keeping down the weight of the sword, because centrifugal force causes the
mercury to shift to the point end of the blade, adding mass and, therefore,

I have my doubts about whether such a sword would really work, even if we
ignore the structural problems of a hollow blade (it would either be weak or
very thick, I think). As you swing the blade, there is little centrifugal
force being exerted at the hilt, since it's moving slowly compared to the
point. Thus, by the time the mercury gets to the tip end of the blade, your
swing would likely have been completed (assuming the mercury gets that far
at all). On the other hand, if we assume that the mercury gets there
quickly, I think it would have the effect of increasing the effort required
to make the swing, since you must now accelerate the mass of the mercury
along with the rest of the blade.

In any case, having the balance of the blade shifting about during combat
would be very undesirable. It would make the force required to move the
blade unpredictable, as would be the momentum of the blade. In other words,
you might not be able to stop the swing where you want it, or move the blade
quickly enought to parry. The Sergeant prefers plain steel.

So my answer to your question, Robert, is that it was military surplus. The
army got rid of the thing as soon as it could, and sold it quite cheaply.

Sgt. Rock

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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