The machine should help clarify the mystery of glass, which
is a puzzling state where matter is more like a liquid than a solid. Physicists
want to better understand what happens to the atoms in a material when it
transitions from a liquid to a glass.
We often think of glass simply as the stuff that's in our
windows, but it's actually a phase of matter, like a gas, a liquid or a solid.
All liquids can become glasses, but some more easily than others.
"We've used glasses
since 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, but we still don’t understand the process
– how it goes from a liquid to a glass," said physicist Kenneth Kelton of
Washington University in St. Louis. "It's one of the most interesting
dynamical processes anywhere around."
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