From glass-stained windows, reading glasses or bottles, glass is just about everywhere in our society. However, despite it being a part of our everyday lives, glass remains a material with a lot of beauty.
Being so common, most people never stop to consider how glass is made, it’s history or how it’s a solid that you can see through. That’s a shame, because the answers are very interesting and strange.
Here are five strange facts about glass you never knew.
- It comes from nature – When lightning strikes sand, it forms ‘glass tubes’ called fulgurites or ‘petrified lightning’. Another way glass forms in nature, is through active volcanos. This glass is known as obsidian, and is much darker in colour than the glass used in most of our everyday objects.
- It has a very long history – Glass relics have been found that date back to the Stone Age, but these were found and not made. The origins of glass production are hotly debated, but the oldest record of glass making can be traced to 3500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. They were not the only culture to independently develop glass making techniques however. There is evidence to suggest that indigenous development of glass technology in South Asia occurred in 1730 BC.
- It has fun stories – Because of the history glass has with human culture, there are several myths and legends surrounding it. An old legend about the discovery of glass production, is that ancient sailors made a campfire on a beach, and the next day they discovered the sand underneath the campfire had turned to glass. A more recent myth about glass, has to do with glass being a (supercooled) liquid. It’s not. It’s really an amorphous solid.
- Tinted Glass is stronger – Most tints in glass are man-made. However, the thicker a piece of glass, the more likely it is to have a green tint. This is due to materials within the glass itself.
- It is a poor reflector – Although glass shares some of the reflective properties of a mirror, it’s a poor reflector itself. It reflects only about 4% of light, which isn’t enough to view yourself properly.
The long history of glass production means that there’s a lot more fascinating facts about the material. That’s why there’s entire museums dedicated to it. We’ve only covered a handful, but hopefully you’ll appreciate your glass bottles a lot more now and not just see them as recyclable!