Updated: Jun 22, 2020
To be a glassblower you need to play with fire.
The furnace we melt glass in is upwards of 2000 degrees!
Keeping a furnace at this temperature takes a lot of effort. When we want to turn it on it takes a week to come up to temperature and then a week to cool back down. Because of this, we keep it on for most of the year. So that means when something goes wrong we have to do any repairs while it's still hot! And if we can't fix it the furnace cools too quickly and we risk cracking our crucible.
These past few years it’s been my job to make sure we don’t blow up 😬
No pressure, right?
It’s both thrilling and terrifying and it felt like I was repairing a damn rocket ship.
SO I was listening to this amazing book,
(I love this book!)
and they started talking about the fuel sources for space shuttles and rockets.
It all came down to FUEL and OXYGEN.
Guess what our furnace is. Fuel and oxygen!
(Technically natural gas and an air blower)
I couldn’t help but compare space shuttles and our furnace. Our furnace even sounds like a jet engine taking off when it lights!
For other types of glass blowing, you can get an even hotter flame by using propane and liquid oxygen. For even hotter working you can use hydrogen, just like a spaceship!
Glass is used in space a lot too.
A bunch of discoveries in glass have been made thanks to our space program. It’s not just technology to keep astronauts alive and not blowing up. The type of glass I am currently using (borosilicate glass) contains boron, which was made to survive in space.
They have even blown glass in space!
(really melted it… and it turned out insanely clear)
I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings! Have you heard of other discoveries made in the pursuit of space travel that is now every day in our lives? Let me know! I love this stuff.
Some other places to look!:
NASA Youtube channel (YES they have a youtube channel!): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLA_DiR1FfKNvjuUpBHmylQ
An article about melting glass in space!
Science at NASA: Wonder-glass from Space
“Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything”
by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith (buy it!)
A Wired article if you are on the fence: https://www.wired.com/story/soonish-kelly-and-zach-weinersmith-the-future-is-weird-and-scary-and-also-hilarious/