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Glass: Liquid or solid

  1. Nov 19, 2003 #1
    Ive heard some arguments for and against glass being a liquid. But what is it officially?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2003 #2
    An 'amorphis' liquid. (means 'without shape')
  4. Nov 19, 2003 #3
    It's also heard by me....

    But first we have to purely define


    What's your opinion?
  5. Nov 19, 2003 #4
    It's NOT an opinion, 'solids' do not (generally speaking) change shapes, 'liquids' take on the shape of the vessel that they are deployed within, but do not change volume, as a 'gas' would......see chemistry; 101
  6. Nov 19, 2003 #5
    Supercooled liquid is the way I had it explained to me.
  7. Nov 19, 2003 #6


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    It is my understanding that this entire debate get started because certain very large very old (400 years plus) panes of glass in the old cathedrals and the like were found to be significantly thicker at the bottom then they were at the top. This led to the conclusion that the glass was actually a highly viscous fluid and over its 400-500 years of existence was slowly "flowing" to the bottom of the pane.

    However, I later heard that further research revealed some of 400-year-old panes of glass that were thicker at the top then at the bottom. Still others were thicker on the right side or the left.

    Turns out, 400 years ago glassmakers simply did not have the technology to extrude a large pane of glass of uniform thickness. After that, I rather lost track of the subject.
  8. Nov 19, 2003 #7

    Too right. I'm sick of hearing that glass is a liquid. This is one of those stupid urban myths that just gets retold all the time. What other scientific 'fact' depends on the study of old artefacts. (actually I can think of many...but you know what I mean)
    Evidence please!
  9. Nov 19, 2003 #8
  10. Nov 20, 2003 #9
    glass is a supercooled liquid.

    Glass is amorphous substances that has no crystalline form. Amorphous substances can be thought of as supercooled liquids. The application of an external force over a period of time causes these materials to flow and become permanently deformed.

    All for god.
  11. Nov 20, 2003 #10


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  12. Nov 20, 2003 #11
    Pretty slick, heh?
  13. Nov 20, 2003 #12
    Yes - thats one way out of a conumdrum, redefine things!

    And as I said - it DOESN'T flow!
  14. Nov 20, 2003 #13
    So I stand corrected.
  15. Nov 20, 2003 #14
    So.... A liquid can be defined as a substance that flows? How many liquids flow in outerspace and thefore would glass be a liquid if the gravity of the planet it was on, was not strong enough to accelerate the particles down towards the ground. At a certain pressure would glass be a solid and what is the freezing point of glass?
  16. Nov 20, 2003 #15

    Chi Meson

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    regular glass does not have a freezing point, per se. (and I'm talking about normal pressures; I don't know what the deal is in very high or very low pressures). Glass changes its viscocity as temperature increases. Most things do, but glass never hits a point where temperature stops going up while it melts. So the opposite is also true: temperture does not stop going down while it freezes.

    So glass will go from a "solid" that will change its shape if pressure is applied slowly, to a thick fluid, to a thinner fluid, and etc.

    By the way, a "fluid" is defined as anything that flows. THis includes gasses as well as liquids.
  17. Nov 20, 2003 #16
    The chemistry textbook in front of me classes glass as an amorphous solid. Same class as rubber and butter.
  18. Nov 21, 2003 #17
    Isn't that an oxymoron?
  19. Nov 21, 2003 #18


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    No. "Amorphous" just means "Lacking distinct crystalline structure." Though most solids have a distinct chrystal structure, it isn't required. And even those that do have many flaws in the structure. A perfect chrystal is extremely difficult to achieve. However, given what we have seen in this thread, I'd say the definition of "glass" in Adam's textbook may be incomplete. What level is the book, Adam?
  20. Nov 21, 2003 #19
    University level, first year chemistry. I did not copy in everything the book says, merely wanted to say what class of matter glass is.
  21. Nov 22, 2003 #20
    here's one for ya, couldn't all things be determined to be liquid? i'd imagine that after a long enough time that the atoms in "solid" objects would begin to droop (if gravity is applied for the duration) thus allowing for a say a rock to occupy any shape of container. would i be incorrect in assuming that would be possible?
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