By Leah Crane
Lead just got an upgrade. When it is quickly compressed with powerful lasers, the typically weak element gets 250 times stronger, making it tougher than hardened steel.
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The difference between strong and weak materials has to do with how the atoms move against one another. When the atoms are arranged so that they can slide across each another easily, like they typically are in lead, the material is soft and pliable. When they cannot move around so easily, like in iron, the material is hard and strong.
Andy Krygier …