Image credit: Cdang via Wikimedia commons

Image credit: Cdang via Wikimedia commons

Kastal hosted a wonderful private Art Night for a large group of Wetland Scientists who were in town for a week long convention. The scientists were absolutely enthralled with the glass making process and thoroughly enjoyed a hot pour demonstration and a tour of the facilities. Naturally curious, they had plenty of questions and it was tremendous for our staff to entertain such an enthusiastic bunch (who are also doing such vital environmental work). It also got me thinking on the enigmatic nature of glass and it's dual nature; a "clear" amorphous solid that shares a molecular structure with liquids and has been properly called a "kinetically frozen form of liquid". Most solids, like metal, rocks, and others are made up of tightly bound atoms and molecules in crystalline structures, while glass (and crystal) are amorphous in structure (see the diagram). This stems from the molecular breakup of solids during the molten heating process to make glass and then the subsequent cooling that occurs before the glass can become fully crystalline. In a sense, the glass is frozen movement because the molecules are not able to reorder themselves into tightly bound structures. It is this fascinating physical arrangement of random order that gives glass (and plastics) its unique transparent property. Over the years there has been persistent urban myth to whether glass is properly classified (in a technical sense) as a solid or a liquid. Scientifically, it is a solid. Solid disorder, in fact. Interesting then that chaotic disorder should prove to be so clear. I love this paradoxical idea surrounding glass and can't help but see the parallel in many of our art pieces that indeed capture the essence of frozen motion. Which is to say, the essence of glass.

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