When in a museum, I'm always drawn to displays of ancient glass. The opalescent sheen and the weathered textures of ancient glass enchant me, along with the thought that such a fragile item has survived hundreds of years.
But did you know that scientists are still puzzled by the molecular structure of glass? A New York Times article recently explored the competing theories of why glass is hard. Yep, you read that right. It seems that glass has the same kind of molecular structure as that of liquids, which is random and jumbled. It is not like other materials, such as water or silica, whose molecules form neat, crystalline patterns when solidified. Glass in its solid form inexplicably looks like a liquid. From the article:
Philip W. Anderson, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Princeton, wrote in 1995: “The deepest and most interesting unsolved problem in solid state theory is probably the theory of the nature of glass and the glass transition.”So, there you go. Glass is not only beautiful, it's a mystery, even though we've worked with it for thousands of years.