Life of Glass: From Arrowheads to the Windows of Our Homes 

Large and open living room den sun room with windows on two sides and lots of natural light flowing in. There is a window seat on one side and a leather couch and plant on the other.Even experts will admit that we have been using and making class for thousands of years and yet we cannot clearly define it. Is it a liquid? A crystalline solid? Atomically, it’s unique and disordered, which makes it an amorphous solid. It truly is ubiquitous in our lives, however. Without it, a lot of things in our lives would be vastly different; the glass of our car windshields, eyeglasses we use to see the world, the screen of our smartphones, cameras, and more. What is the life story of glass and how has it become so essential in the day-to-day?

The Importance of Glass to the Modern World 

Let’s begin with the words you’re reading. They are born as a thought in someone’s mind and to reach you, they have had an extraordinary journey through fingertips, to keyboard, to fiber-optic cables, the atmosphere, and into your retina. That’s because everything you read on the internet is not only some form of code, but it travels as information encoded into signals of light traveling at a whopping 125,000 miles per second through these highly resilient fiber-optic cables laid out through mountains and oceans.

These cables are composed of hair-thin glass. It’s hard to imagine, but that’s what they are composed of. This technology began as far back as the 1970s with a company named Corning Incorporated. The concept, of course, had been in the making for a long time, as countless research and data went into the actual manufacture of these thin cables capable of carrying condensed information. Years of research and experimentation with glass and different variations. In addition to that, if you’re seeing this through a smartphone screen or computer screen, then there is another example of how the very activities we depend on everyday are using glass. 

The History and Early Uses of Glass and the Invention of Glass Windows

People began using naturally occurring glass-like obsidian before they learned to make glass. Obsidian was used for a variety of important functions in early society, including essential tools, knives, arrowheads, and jewelry. There is some recorded history of the first man-made glass around ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Societies quickly adopted and improved on the technique. The manufacture of glass was very difficult at first and slow at first. As glass melting furnaces became a little more functional, the process improved and became easier.  During the Roman Empire, people were very protective of the secret to making glass because of its high functionality and market value. Glass was serious business by the Roman Empire. 

In the first century, Jerusalem had one of the biggest innovations in glass-making until that time. It should be said that in the early days of glass the science and structure of glass was not understood. Instead, people believed that there was magic attached to the material. Take one Roman artifact found: a goblet of clear glass that has a green hue from one direction and a red hue from another. Scientists have figured out that it’s because of gold and silver nanoparticles. Glassblowing was invented in the region around this time and the Romans didn’t take long to figure out how to make glass clear. This was the beginning of glass windows. 

Even after glass windows were invented, however, they took some time before they became accessible to the population at large. They were expensive and difficult to make. And as glass began to be implemented in larger structures and buildings, including cathedrals and government buildings, people saw the incredible beauty of glass. This had an influence in developing architecture and so the demand for it increased and so more people began to invest time and improve the methods for using glass. 

The building that introduced the beauty of windows…

We don’t think about it much today, as every building we go into has to have windows. It’s a given. And yet in 1851, the Crystal Palace in London was revealed to hundreds of people in the Great Exhibition. Sadly for the Crystal Palace, it would burn down about a century later, but it’s beauty contributed to the advancement and passion for glass. And while the aesthetic of windows was appealing to the masses, inventors were tinkering with other forms of glass, including the first spectacles, mirrors, and microscopes. 

Before using glass, mirrors were made with polished metal or obsidian—similar to the early tools made of the same stone. So once mirrors were a thing, it not only allowed for people to see themselves clearly reflected—as that is not the most fascinating function of mirrors— it allowed for microscopes which would be instrumental in countless numbers of biological, astronomical (via the telescope), and scientific discoveries. 

Let the Windows of Your Home Show You the Beauty Outside and In

Now that you know this fascinating history of glass, we hope that you see your windows in a whole different light. These are features that can really transform a home and custom windows will not only serve an aesthetic purpose but an important functional purpose too. Today’s homeowners seek natural light and work to implement the beauty of the sun’s rays into their homes, given the fact that most of us find ourselves working indoors. If you want to give your home or office new life, trust the Trim Team to bring you the best custom windows in the region.