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The first reported steps towards the discovery of the shape memory effect were taken in the 1930s. According to Otsuka and Wayman (1998), A. Ölander discovered the pseudoelastic behavior of the Au-Cd alloy in 1932.
The earliest known combination of Titanium and Nickel reported in the scientific literature was in 1939 by two Europeans. However, this crude sample was a "by-product" of research entirely unrelated to the study of Nitinol. Its "memory metal" potential was not sought or noted. The scientists would have been unable to purify Titanium to sufficient levels at that time-and they would not have known about the energy requirement needed to create the "morphing" effect.
...In May of 1992 one of us was approached by an informant who told an intriguing story. For the record, he was not a Battelle employee. He had attended North High School in Columbus, Ohio, graduating in June of 1960.
Between January and April of 1958, he dated a classmate named Cathy Center. One evening while he was visiting her home, Cathy's father, Mr. Elroy John Center, told them that while working at Battelle (he had left their employment in 1957) he was responsible for a project which required him to study 'parts' retrieved from a flying saucer. The parts had some sort of writing on them and his job was to 'find out what the characters meant.' He told them that there was 'lots more I can't go into. It's been bothering me since I saw it.' Given that some of the material (actually described as small 'I beams' retrieved from the pre-crash debris field near Roswell, New Mexico in July, 1947 has been described as having some sort of writing on it, the obvious question is did the 'parts' Mr. Center study come from the same crash event?
The fact that Mr. Center's story was told long before the details of the Roswell debris were known publicly, the possible confirmation of his story by the later descriptions of that debris cannot be ignored.
Originally posted by The Mack
I do not think that anyone claims that the metal was non-destructable, Just more damage resistant than other metals.