How much do you think you know about glass? It’s an incredibly versatile material that we experience every day without even noticing. It’s in our homes, our vehicles, our mobile phones and even worn on our faces! Glass is absolutely everywhere, and yet most of us don’t give it a thought. Here are some fascinating facts about glass that might surprise you:
Glass is an amorphous solid, which sounds like a contradiction. Molten glass solidifies at such a fast rate that the molecules don’t have a chance to form into a regular crystalline pattern. It is this unusual structure that makes glass so special. It owes its smooth transparency to its spaced-out molecules which allow both the visible and ultra-violet light spectrum to travel through it. Even though it’s a solid, glass is similar to gases and liquids in this respect, in that you can see through them. That is why glass gives off such beautiful rainbow reflections and glistens in the light, perfect for luxury chandeliers.
The first recorded use of glass appears in 4000 BC in the Middle East, where glass was used to glaze and decorate beads for jewelry. The first use of glass for containers holding other materials was seen in approximately 1,500 BC by the Ancient Egyptians. Using glass as a container is the perfect choice because of its purity. Glass cannot alter or affect the contents and properties of a substance held in a container in any way.
Glass is quite possibly the number one eco-friendly substance. It is 100% recyclable indefinitely, meaning it can be endlessly re-used without ever losing any of its original purity or quality. This explains the high rate of glass recycling, about 80% compared with only a quarter of all plastics. Recycled glass also needs a lower temperature to melt than glass made from raw materials, meaning recycled glass uses 40% less energy to make something.
Glass can be incredibly strong as well as being as dainty as an ornamental figurine. A manufacturer of bulletproof glass once placed $3 million behind such glass at a bus stop. If anyone could break the glass, the money was theirs!
The future of glass is extremely exciting too, with a liquid glass having been invented that sprays to form a layer of highly flexible, strong glass. Amazingly, the layer is 500 times thinner than a human hair, making it invisible to the human eye. It is liquid repellent and non-toxic, providing an anti-bacterial surface that would be incredibly useful in both hospitals and homes.
If you should be unfortunate enough to smash glass, you’ll be astounded to learn that the cracks travel at a whopping 3,000 miles an hour! For a camera to capture the exact moment of a glass cracking, it would need to shoot at a millionth of a second to get the shot.
Don’t try this one at home, but apparently, a ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball made from rubber! Please don’t test this theory with your family heirlooms!