Glass as we all know is a very useful substance. Glass has been around for many years, originally a naturally formed substance that man has managed to reproduce, and has found many uses for. Glass is used every day in all sorts of common and specialized ways. We use glass bricks to build with, windows to see out of, all sorts of eye glasses to enable us to see more clearly, we also use crystal stemware to drink from, and crystal jewelry to adorn ourselves and look at ourselves in the floor length mirror. We could not do without it. But how much do you really know about it; how is it made and what is its history.

Glass is an inorganic material produced when a mixture of components (usually silica) is heated to melting and then cooled so that no crystals are created. Pure silica can be used, but often other additives are used to change the temperature of melting and properties of the glass produced. The end result is glass a clear, hard brittle material that has many uses including windows, eye wear, and household goods, drinking bottles and vessels and much more. Each different use requires a different property of glass – some require higher quality glass, some tougher glass etc. Glass can be found in every home and in many, many forms. Glass also has many uses in industry and science and research. The optical properties of glass make it suitable for mirrors, lens and use in communications. The physical properties allow us to have flat glass for windows or molded glass for containers. It would be true to say that our lives would be very difficult without glass.

It is thought that the actually term glass comes from the Roman Empire where glesum was used to denote a transparent lustrous material.

Although glass is usually silica based there are glasses made without silica such as plastic glass, also glass made form metal or carbon. The properties of these kinds of glass can be used for applications such as fiber optics.

Naturally occurring glass is called obsidian and was very prized in Stone Age cultures for its sharp cutting edge. The earliest manufactured glass is thought to be Mesopotamian and the oldest objects found have been glass beads. Glass would have been a luxury item only available to the ruling classes. There was a lot of glass production during the Late Bronze Age around Egypt and Western Asia. Glass making was a closely guarded secret and although progress was made with the techniques of working with glass, a lot of glassware production was by grinding the cold glass- from preformed slabs, rather than working with the hot glass. Suggesting that in the main glass making was undertaken by a few specialized centers supplying other area with preformed glass for making utensils etc from. Glass blowing started to be used from around the first century BC and lead to an explosion in the uses of glass. The Romans were amongst the first to use glass windows in their architecture the very first windows were made of hand blown glass flattened! Glass making was developed in various areas of world independently, although the whole industry benefited from cross fertilization that occurred when knowledge was shared. The kind of things shared would be techniques and  coloring.

Today artists and scientistsare still experimenting with glass to find more uses and more interesting sculptures. The properties of glass make it very useful and attractive to us.

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