Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/579

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561
TEMPERED GLASS.

Such, then, is De la Bastie's toughened glass, which possesses enormous cohesive power, and offers great resistance to the force of impact. There is, however, one peculiarity which, for the present, tells against it in a slight degree—it cannot be cut through with a diamond. Scratched its surface can be, but there the action of the diamond ceases. This drawback only applies in the case of window-glass in odd-sized frames; for the practice of the present day, with builders, is to make window-sashes of certain fixed dimensions, and glass-manufacturers work to these dimensions. It is not at all improbable, however, that ere long a means will be divised for cutting toughened glass to any size or shape; experiments are, in fact, now being conducted with this view, and so far as they have gone they give promise of success. But if toughened glass cannot be cut by the diamond, it can be readily cut and polished by the wheel, as for lustres and the like, so that wine-glasses and articles of cut glass-ware can be toughened directly they are made, and cut and polished subsequently.

Superficial observers have affected to detect in the toughening process a similar condition of matter to that which obtains in Prince Rupert's drops. The error of such a conclusion, however, becomes evident upon a little consideration. Prince Rupert's drops are made by allowing melted glass to fall into cold water; the result of which is a small pear-shaped drop, which will stand smart blows upon the thick end without injury; but the moment the thin end, or tail, is broken, the drop flies into fragments. Now, glass and water, and—as far as present knowledge goes—no other substances besides, expand while passing from the fluid into the solid condition. The theory of the Rupert drops is, that the glass being cooled suddenly, by being dropped into cold water, expansion is checked by reason of a hard skin being formed on the outer surface. This exterior coating prevents the interior atoms from expanding and arranging themselves in such a way as to give the glass a fibrous nature, as they would if the glass was allowed to cool very gradually. An examination of the Rupert's drop shows the inner substance to be fissured and divided into a number of small particles. They exist, in fact, in a state of compression, with but little mutual cohesion, and are only held together by the external skin. So long as the skin remains intact the tendency of the inner particles to expand and fill their proper space is checked and resisted by the superior compressive strain of the skin. Nor is the balance of the opposing forces disturbed by blows on the thick end of the drop, which vibrates as a whole, the vibrations not being transmitted from the exterior to the interior. But by breaking off the tail of the drop a vibratory movement is communicated along the crystalline surface, admitting of internal expansion, by which the cohesion of the particles composing the external skin is overcome, and the glass is at once reduced to fragments. As the skin of toughened