From the First Mirror to Fiber Optics, the Story of the Substance That Changed the WorldBook - 1999
It is the neon sign that blinks on the edge of our consciousness; the wavy, delicate windowpanes in a centuries-old farmhouse; the airy adornment of high-rise architects and playful distraction of daydreaming schoolchildren. Heat resistant or shatterproof, tempered or stained, this magical substance formed of sand and fire has done much more than brighten and beautify: it has changed the very way we live. William S. Ellis brilliantly whisks readers on a marvelously entertaining journey of ingenuity and discovery, from the birthplace of glass on the ancient shores of Phoenicia to the crystal factories of Waterford, which only recently has leapt into the computer age. In prose as crystalline as his subject, the author celebrates the versatility and functionality of glass, and explains how a substance known to all but understood by few has been shaped and molded to serve mankind in innumerable ways. In these pages, readers will learn how glass has both shaped and been shaped by man's changing relationship to the environment; how it has brought vision to the sight-deprived and to human beings huddling in the dark; and how glass enters the twenty-first century yielding an almost unlimited horizon of possibilities. With grace, charm and authority, Glass delves into history, invention, manufacturing, fine art, and the myriad faces and forms of this protean substance. Whether visiting the flamboyant glass artist Dale Chihuly, dissecting the creation of a twenty-ton telescopic mirror, sampling the history of Tiffany's magnificent lamps, or watching the design and construction of the greenhouses of Kew Gardens, this book treats readers to a multifaceted vision of a material eternally destined to die a violent death, and to be constantly reborn in a relentlessly changing world.