An Overview of Glass

An Overview of Glass

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An Overview of Glass

Glass is a very odd substance, is it a solid or a liquid? There are
many reasons why it can be considered either of the two, but still
most people are unsure of its state. Glass may be a state of matter
that is neither solid nor liquid.

A liquid has viscosity, which is a measure of its resistance to flow.
So water may move very quickly because it has a high viscosity, but
oil has a high viscosity so it moves slower. If something were to have
a very high viscosity then it may seem like a solid but it would be an
amorphous solid. An amorphous solid is a liquid that looks like a
solid but doesn't have crystals so it just sits there for a long time
and slowly moves.

A solid has viscoplasticity, which is the resistance to flow under
plastic deformation. If you were to punch plastic with your hand it
would deform then go back to shape, but if you were to hit it with a
steel pipe there would be a dent in the plastic and it wouldn't go
back to its original form. So the viscoplasticity is like how much of
a force you have to put on it until there is a deformation. Some
materials don't flow but creep these materials are known as plasticity
materials. The only way they can be deformed is to be held under
stress (pressure) for a constant amount of time.

Since as far as we can tell both those things hold true for glass so
those aren't good ways to establish a for sure state of matter for
glass. Another way to decide where glass is a liquid or solid is to
say there is a minimum amount of shear stress required to permanently
deform it then it's a solid. There are materials which have some
limited flow known as viscoelasticity. The material will deform
elastically under stress. If the stress is held for a long time the
deformation becomes permanent even if the stress was small.

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with viscoelasticity may seem to flow slowly for a while but then
stop. So this doesn't help us determine the state of glass either.

People believe that the reason glass isn't a state of matter is
because it isn't perfect. For that to happen "earth" must cool the
liquid slowly enough while somehow preventing it to crystallize. It
would form at one precise temperature like the other phases of matter.
Like them, it would be a distinct phase of matter, and not the
ordinary glass a "solidliquid hybrid." This is only theoretical not
known for sure.

In the end the state of glass is still very much unknown. Most
physicists would consider it a liquid because of its thermo molecular
make-up and the everyday man would consider it a solid because it is
rigid. To consider it a solid would go against the complete make-up of
all solids, and to consider it a liquid would to go against the one
thing man can really trust his five senses. So really the only one
that can decide is you.

Quotes I liked

"You form glass by 'super cooling' a liquid below its freezing point,
then cooling it some more. If you cool it fast enough, the molecules
can't organize themselves into crystals"

Robert Kunzig
Discover Magazine October 1999

"There is a story that once a ship belonging to some traders in
natural soda (natron) put in there and that they scattered along the
shore to prepare a meal. Since, however, no stones suitable for
supporting their cauldrons were forthcoming, they rested them on lumps
of soda from their cargo. When these became heated and were completely
mingled with the sand on the beach, a strange translucent liquid (novi
liquoris) flowed forth in streams; and this, it is said, was the
origin of glass."


"Natural History"


The Physics of…Glass

Is glass liquid or solid?

The Physics of.....Glass

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