December is Glass Month
Caption goes here
Glass Triple Klein Bottle by Alan Bennett, 1995.

What!? December already? We were just warming up!

SkillBuilder-GlassWith November behind us, we’re wrapping up our 2012 Year of Materials theme, this month, with a focus on glass. Glass, in the broadest sense of the term, does not imply any particular type of atomic or molecular composition, but rather a particular kind of ordering of atoms or molecules in space. Or rather, a lack thereof. In understanding this it is helpful to contrast glasses with crystals, in which atoms/molecules are arranged in repeating rows, columns, or other identifiable patterns, like cannonballs stacked on a courthouse lawn. Glasses, on the other hand, are more like dice poured haphazardly into a jar. Materials characterized by a lack of spatial order at the atomic scale are often described as glassy, though amorphous is now often favored, for this purpose, to avoid confusion with the common sense of the word.

But even in that more common sense—hard, brittle, silicon-based materials that are often transparent—glass includes a veritable galaxy of materials, full of amazing properties and stories. This month, we’re going to bring you just a few of them.

As always, if you have suggestions for particular content you’d like to see covered under this theme, please do let us know, below. Thanks for reading!



I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan