I think someone was pulling your leg.
Brings me back this old machinist tale -told a dozen different ways over the years- I first heard myself like 30 years ago when I worked as a Machinist for Pan Am:
The engineering department of a defense plant at Newburgh, New York, has been experimenting with steel wire, drawing it out very fine. They finally produced a piece of 120-gauge wire — practically invisible. The boys were proud — so proud, in fact, that they cut off a strand and sent it to a rival defense plant farther upstate. “This is just to show you what we are doing in Newburgh,” they wrote.
Weeks went by. Recently, a package arrived at the Newburgh plant. The boys opened it with great care. Inside was a steel block; mounted on the block were two steel standards, and strung between them was the same piece of 120-gauge wire. At one end of the block was mounted a small microscope delicately focused on a certain spot on the wire. One by one the engineers placed an eye to the microscope and examined in silence the work of their rivals, who had bored, in the wire, a rather handsome little hole!
At first blush, this legend of technological one-upsmanship appears to date to around 1939, yet it is a couple of millennia older than that. As it was being told just prior to World War II, a German manufacturer had asked an American steel company to produce a 4-foot sample of the thinnest wire they could make. The Americans put their most experienced metallurgists and wire-drawers on the job, finally producing what they believed to be a work of technological art. A special courier was dispatched to Germany to deliver the sample and get the reactions of those it had been made for.
The courier was welcomed at the plant and given a glass of schnapps while the wire was taken to another room to be examined by German experts. Before the man had finished his drink, the box he’d brought the sample in was returned to him, now sealed with wax. “Your answer is in the box,” he was told. “Please do not open it until you return to your plant.”
Stateside once more, the wire was examined by the American engineers who’d slaved over it. They found a hole drilled down its center, effectively turning their solid thin wire into an impossibly-reamed hollow tube.
This pre-war incarnation reflected then-current fears of the state of German technology as America contemplated the industrial prowess of the country it knew in its heart would soon be a battlefield opponent. Sometimes Japanese technology was viewed with trepidation; another version starred them as the hole borers.