Shatter-Proof: How Glass Took Over the Kitchenand Ended Child Labor

Gastropod
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

I am a Coloratura Mr Beast not Annette's. Well, whatever you are on record sal show Debra sent you over here. He didn't. You told me was your age. I nine and in spite of what you think. There are some professions where practice does make perfect. Julie Andrews pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman and still managing to shatter a wine glass with her gorgeous and super powerful voice at least in the movie Victor Victoria. But you know you can't believe everything you see on the big screen like breaking a wine glass with just a perfect flat yeah. I always been a long held ambitions. Break wine glasses of the sound. Some of you longtime gastropod listeners might recognize that Voice Zoe. Laughlin. Is none other than the star of our very first episode who said that mango sorbet tastes sublime on gold spoons hers is the voice that is inspired the purchase of a thousand golden spoons or at least a half dozen that we know about though is not just spoon aficionado. She's a material scientist and director of the Institute of Making at University College London, and this episode we were excited to talk to her again not about gold spoons. But about glass I mean even though I should've understand it on paper. Everything about glasses still sort of extraordinary mysterious like just the fact that is transparent when pretty much everything else isn't transparent is extraordinarily we have a lot of questions this episode for one. How did something? So seemingly delicate and breakable get to be so ubiquitous in the kitchen and also how come you could never put a drinking glass in the oven, but you can cook in a glass dish. What does the? Invention of the bottling machine have to do with a beautiful stretch of protected sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan or with the rise of Ketchup and Coca Cola and the abolition of Child Labor for that matter and more importantly can you actually shatter glass using sound did zoe pull it off by the way Cynthia you might not have realized this but this episode is dedicated to your mother glassmaker extraordinaire. Of. Glasswork on display in my house as we speak and I have at least five pieces of fused and stained Tama Graber, glass mom, this one's for you. What is glass? All glass everywhere in the world is at least seventy percent made of sand that's been melted down and it's mixed together in a way that the atoms don't have any kind of order them, and that's what gives rise to it being transparent. You've already heard from Zoe now it's time to meet our other two intrepid glass enthusiasts who will be inducting us into the mysteries of this material. This episode been Speiser journalist and author of a very enjoyable book called the World Grain, the story of Sand and how it transformed civilization and an Isa Ramirez, material scientist and author of another totally delightful. Book. Called the Alchemy of US humans and matter transform one, another Zoe and Isa and bins are all about glass. You cannot overstate how ubiquitous glass is and how important it is to the modern world in which we all live I'm just looking around the kitchen where I'm standing there glass bottles holding olive oil. There's glass windows they're glass fixtures around the glass lightbulbs to everything from you know salt shakers and I glass lenses to things like twenty ton telescope lenses in the world's most powerful telescopes. It's in the fiber optic cables that connect to the Internet fiber optic cables made it literally of Spun. Glass. So really without glass we wouldn't have modern civilization. So we've established that this miraculous foundation of modern civilization is made of melted down sand with a few other ingredients thrown in but to go back another step, and this is a strange question but what is sand and is all sand the same thing? The Word San means just any small pieces Greens right of any hard substance so sand can be. Anything, you know it can be flint it can be courtside anything any kind of stone but the most common form of sand. Most of the sand in the world is courts, which is silicon dioxide and to make glass. That's what you need. You need court sand and you need a specially high security court sand. This seems very fortunate. You need court sand to make glass, and that turns out to be what most of the sand is primarily because courts is so hard that it just outlasts all the other rocks is they're all getting ground down together. You do still have to clean the courts end. Up a bit and get out the last remaining impurities and you have to add a few other ingredients to lower the melting temperature of quartz, and then you heat it up, you need a huge amount of heat. So while I like one, thousand, seven, hundred degrees Celsius which mostly in Fahrenheit I mean it's over three thousand degrees Fahrenheit based bloody hot. Eventually the sand melts and then it re congeals and a weird thing happens when it turns into a solid again, courts is a crystal but glass is not what a weird structure because it's not a crystal crystals are actually made up of atoms arranged like soldiers. In rows but glass is sort of like picture of kindergartners at resets, atoms are all over the place, and so that's what makes it unusual but it's that chaos in the arrangement of atoms that actually gives rise to it having the property of transparency.

Coming up next