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/// The Science Behind Glass

By Andy Darnley

Glass is all around us: We can see it almost everywhere we go, whether we're looking through the window of our bedroom or having a drink of water or milk with our dinner. Glass is hard, but it can break easily. Glass is also usually clear, but sometimes, it can be colored to make works of art. It's one of the most useful materials people have ever invented, showing up everywhere from eyeglasses to phone lines to light bulbs.

What Is Glass?

Glass is a hard material that's used to make lots of things. Most glass is made by people, but sometimes, it can be found in nature, too. Glass is actually made mostly from sand, with a few other things mixed into it.

How Is Glass Made?

To make glass, you need a lot of heat. People who make glass usually use a furnace to make glass by melting all of the ingredients together into a gooey mass. Those ingredients include sand, soda ash, and limestone. Each element is important and plays a specific role in the creation of glass. The soda ash helps the sand to melt at a lower temperature than it usually would, but the limestone makes sure that that temperature isn't too low. After the melting and combining process is complete, the glass is poured into molds to make glasses or bottles. It can also be poured out onto a flat surface to make a flat sheet of glass for a window. Sometimes, glass is blown to make shaped vases and other pieces. Glassblowing involves putting a bit of the molten glass on the end of a pipe. Air is then forced through the pipe, and a shape is created by adjusting the air flow and turning the pipe.

Different types of glass can be made by adding different things when the glass is made. Chemicals may be added to color the glass or to make the glass easier to cut. To make bulletproof glass, layers of a plastic material are put in between layers of glass. Metallic compounds are added to glass to make the beautiful colors in stained glass.

Types of Glass

There are many types of glass, and each one is used for different things. Glass can be used for practical things like fiber-optic cables or casserole dishes or for things like sculptures, which are just there to be pretty. Some examples of types of glass are flat glass, optical glass, foam glass, and laser glass.

Flat glass is the kind used for windows. It is also used for mirrors and even some types of furniture. Flat glass is made in sheets that are cut and sometimes curved, such as in the case of car windshields. Optical glass is used for camera lenses, microscopes, telescopes, eyeglasses, and scientific instruments for laboratories and factories. Foam glass looks like a black honeycomb. It is used in buildings and on equipment as a heat insulator. Laser glass is a type of optical glass with added substances that allow it to carry laser beams.

Science Experiments With Glass

Science experiments are a fun way to learn about things. Doing experiments lets you make or tinker with something to show how a thing works, and experiments that involve glass can help you learn how glass is made and some of the neat things that it can do.

Fun Facts About Glass

We may not think about glass very often, but glass has a long history, and there are many fun things about it that we may not know. For example, did you know that glass is a 100% recyclable product and can be recycled over and over again without losing any of its purity or quality?

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