If the world was made of glass, would we be able to see through it?

12 September 2010

Question

If the world was made of glass, would we be able to see through it?

Answer

Dave - Glass is obviously transparent, so if the world was a beautiful pane of glass, you could see straight through it. But if you've ever dropped a glass on the floor, it shatters into thousands of pieces. If you've got loads of little pieces of glass, it stops being transparent. although each piece of glass is transparent, because when light hits a surface, some reflects and some refracts (it bends), if you have a pile of rough bits of glass, you get lots of reflections and refractions and the light all merges together into a white blur. This is why ground glass always looks white. Chris - That's the same reason why snow looks white when water is transparent isnt' it? Dave - Yes, and the same with sugar - each crystal is transparent, but a bowl of sugar looks white. So because the Earth isn't nice and flat and shiny like a pane of glass, if it was made out of glass it would probably look white.

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