The hard black material of the slab had resisted all the rather mild attempts that had been made to obtain samples. They had no doubt that a laser beam would cut into it—for surely, nothing could resist that frightful concentration of energy—but the decision to employ such violent measures would be left to Floyd. It was the mark of a barbarian to destroy something one could not understand.
Even in the brilliant earthlight, it was hard to see the object clearly; his first impression was a flat rectangle, that might have been cut out of carbon paper; it seemed to have no thickness at all. Of course, this was an optical illusion; though he was looking at a solid body, it reflected so little light he could see it only in silhouette.