Material facts

28th January 2000 at 00:00
Glass facts

* The earliest known glass dates from Egypt in around 2500BC.

* Glass blowing began in Syria 2,000 years ago.

* Safety glass was patented in 1909.

* Glass is made from the fusion of sand at high temperatures.

* Window glass is not a liquid or a solid.

* Window glass is flowing, albeit incredibly slowly, which is why old windows are thicker at the bottom than the top.

* Elizabethan glass was so expensive people often took their windows when they moved.

* The bullseye in old glass is where the blowing pipe was cut off.

Wood facts * Trees use the Sun's energy to turn liquid water and carbon dioxide gas into wood through photosynthesis.

* Wood cells are added to trees during the summer, thickening the trunk and producing "growth rings".

* Pine is often used for window frames. Oak, cypress, male, walnut and birch are used for staircases, floors and doors.

* Cladding may be made from redwood or cedar which produce weather-proofing oil.

Brick facts * House bricks absorb water.

* The earliest known brick houses were built in Jericho (Palestinian West Bank) 12,000 years ago. 3,000 years later they were first fastened with mortar.

* The first kiln-fired bricks were made in Mesopotamia around 3000BC.

concrete facts * Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand and gravel.

* Cement is made by burning lime and clay which sets like stone when mixed with water.

* The first known concrete was from around 200BC in the Roman town of Palestrina in Italy.

* Reinforced concrete was invented in the mid-19th century.

* Pre-stressed concrete - reinforced with metal bars - was invented in 1886.

John Stringer

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