Stories tagged glass

Aug
27
2007

Welcome to the beach, kids: Don't forget your shoes.  (photo by Luiza on Flickr.com)
Welcome to the beach, kids: Don't forget your shoes. (photo by Luiza on Flickr.com)
Officials in Broward County, Florida, are considering using crushed glass to rebuild their eroded beaches. The plan, unfortunately, is not to cover the beaches with broken bottles, but to use well-pulverized glass, essentially recreating the sand that was used to make the glass in the first place. So a walk on the beach wouldn’t be, you know, torture. It would be a lot like walking on a normal beach, just shinier. I approve of this; everything in the future should be a little shinier.

It’s bad for business when beaches erode in Florida, and Broward has always resorted to dredging up sand from the ocean floor and pumping it back on to the beach. This isn’t cheap, and it won’t be getting any cheaper, hence the county’s interest in possible alternatives.

So far, studies have shown that the organisms and wildlife of the beaches should be able to thrive in the glass sand just the same as normal sand, although some have pointed out that it is impossible to predict all of the environmental consequences of a project like this. In the 1970s, for instance, Broward County attempted to attach 700,000 old tires to the ocean floor to create an artificial reef. When the tires came loose (and who could have predicted that?), though, they began “scouring the ocean floor,” and wedging against natural reefs, killing the coral. I have to admire the spirit there, at least – in addition to the glass beach initiative, Broward understands that, in the future, cars obviously won’t have tires, and we’ll need to think of something to do with all of the old ones. If only there was some way to make them shiny.

Bee driven sensors: Courtesy Susana Soares.
Bee driven sensors: Courtesy Susana Soares.
An artist at the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom has designed some beautiful glass sculptures that could help use bee's amazing powers of smell to help detect disease. Susana Soares was inspired by recent news on research to use bees to sniff out chemical weapons and bombs.

Also check out:

University of Montana's Bee Alert program.
More on bees from Science Buzzzzzz

Jul
01
2006

Carbon Dioxide glass: source: Wikipedia  This diamond anvil is used to create pressures of several hundred thousand atmospheres.
Carbon Dioxide glass: source: Wikipedia This diamond anvil is used to create pressures of several hundred thousand atmospheres.
Carbon, silicon and germanium are the first three members of group IV of the periodic table of elements. Why then is CO2 a gas whereas SiO2 and GeO2 form a solid, glass like substance?
Mario Santoro and colleagues from the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy and INFM recenttly discovered such a form of solid carbon dioxide.

"The new material, which was made by applying extreme pressures to normal solid carbon dioxide, resembles window glass on the atomic scale. Dubbed amorphous carbonia, the substance could be important for understanding the interiors of gas-giant planets in which carbon dioxide is squeezed at high pressures." (Nature 441 857)

"Another important implication is that mixtures of a-carbonia and a-silica could, in principle be used to make new amorphous glasses that would be very hard and stiff and likely stable at room temperature," adds Santoro. "Small amounts of these new glasses could be of interest for technology applications like hard and resistant coatings for micro-electronics, for example." PhysicsWeb

Turning carbon dioxide into glass form might even be a solution to stop its greenhouse effect.

Sources:
Abstract of paper from Nature
Editor's Summary; Nature