All About Glass

All About Glass

This is your resource for exploring various topics in glass: delve deeper with this collection of articles, multimedia, and virtual books all about glass. Content is frequently added to the area, so check back for new items. If you have a topic you'd like to see covered, send us your suggestion. If you have a specific question, Ask a Glass Question at our Rakow Research Library.

Genie in the Bottle: Glass Bulbs & TV Tubes
Article

In 1879, the brilliant inventor Thomas Edison was on the verge of a breakthrough. He had discovered a slow-burning filament that would glow for hours in the vacuum of a glass globe. But to create the first practical electric light, he needed a glass globe that would not implode when the air was

From a Broken Flask: Laminated Safety Glass
Article

Edouard Benedictus, a set and costume designer for a French theater, wanted to make glass safer. He was disturbed by reports of people being disfigured by broken windshield glass during automobile accidents. How could windshields be made less dangerous? He recalled a curious incident that had

Lighting the Way: Fresnel Lens
Article

The most dangerous part of a sailing trip used to be returning to shore. Lighthouses were built to signal the safest route, but often the weak light from their lamps was not visible until too late. The large, thick lens that was supposed to project the light absorbed much of the signal.  Hollowing

Making Window Glass by Hand: Crown & Cylinder Glass
Article

When you think of a window, you think of a flat piece of glass. But window glass didn’t always start out flat. It once began as a massive bubble on the end of a glassblower’s pipe. To flatten the bubble, the glassblower could spin it rapidly into a huge disk called a crown. After it was cool, the

The Precise Moment: Tempered Glass
Article

Glass breaks. But if it’s strengthened by thermal tempering, it breaks less easily and more safely. By 1920, architects and European car designers wanted more and more tempered glass—and in large sheets. Glassmakers could successfully temper only one sheet in ten. There’s a trick to tempering: heat

The Window Machines: Sheet & Plate Glass
Article

The mighty glowing columns that stand like pillars in a ghostly cathedral...     -Anonymous At the beginning of the 20th century, there was no way to mass-produce flat glass. Although glass cylinders could be drawn by machine, they had to be opened and flattened by hand. What was needed was a way

Countless Variations: Lens Combinations
Article

The world began to realize that so far it had only toyed with glass. Now a brand new material was born.     -Walter Kioulehn, Odyssey of the 41 Glassmakers, 1959 By the mid-1800s, there were still only two kinds of optical glass: soda-lime crown glass and lead-containing flint glass. Opticians

Meet the Astronomer: Scott Kardel
Video

Hear from Scott Kardel, the public affairs coordinator for the Palomar Observatory, a world-class center for astronomical research that is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. There are five telescopes used at Palomar, including the 200-inch Hale Telescope (the "Big

Low-E Glass
Video

Introduced in 1979, low emissivity (low-e) glass uses an ultra thin metallic coating on or in the glass to reflect the sun's rays. Commercial and residential buildings use low-e glass windows to help save energy. The powerful infrared light in sunlight heats up objects such as floors and