Nuclear weapons and sheets of glass.

What’s the relationship between nuking a country and turning it into a “sheet of glass”?

The only thing I can think of is that its a metaphor for “freezing” time in the affected areas.

I’ve always taken it to mean that the heat of the nuclear attack would melt anything that it didn’t vaporise - so you’d be left with a puddle of molten buildings, rock, metal, etc. Which would then flow to be level, and cool - not necessarily glass because of the impurities, but glass is made from molten sand. Perhaps it follows from observations made after A-Bomb tests in the desert?

Just my WAG, you understand.

Makes sense, better WAG then mine.


Yup, it directly comes from the idea of heat and pressure turning sand into glass. In recent memory the phrase has almost always been used in regards to the Middle East which of course, being desert, has more than it’s fair share of sand.

Oo! Oo!

Trinitite! I got a piece, right here!

Yes, it looks like glass, sort of. It is smooth on the “top” side. It’s green, and underneath it is very gritty and obviously made of fused sand. The floor of the Alamogordo desert around the test site was entirely made up of this new mineral.

There is some very small alpha particle residual radioactivity from my chunk, although I don’t have any instrument capable of measuring it


Can meteor strikes in the desert do this? I vaguely remember something along those lines being mentioned in a documentary on people pursuing impact crater sites.

Indeed, Squink and Omniscient have it. More usually I see this referring to a glass parking lot, rather than sheet of glass.

I’m not sure about meteors, but lightning strikes can fuse beach glass in to Fulgurite (Google Image search)

Yes, they’re called tektites. A sufficiently large meteor impact might produce a large sheet of glass, like trinitite (except not radioactive, of course), but that’d be a real doozy of a meteor, and mostly they just produce small chunks.


BTW, do you have children?

If you’re as old as I am, you might remember a beautiful song by Bob Welch of Fleetwood Mac, called “Hypnotized.”

Um, Bob. That’s from a meteor strike. No man’s hand was needed to make it. No woo-woo here. Try the next hippie over. :smiley:

I’ve only ever heard it in the context of the middle east, referring to how it’s all desert.

I got the trinitite after I was done having kids. My kids are all older than the average for the board, now. Not to mention not living here within irradiation range of my chunk of glowing green glass.

OK, so it doesn’t glow. So, what?

Someone else on the board has one too. I sold it to him, when I bought mine. I ain’t sayin who, but he has had kids since then, I think.


And they used your testicles for night lights?

Slight aside:

I visited Trinity Site several years ago (Not sure if still, but it used to open to the public twice a year for one day each time, May and Oct IIRC.) Busses would take groups down to Ground Zero, or however close they let us for about 15-20 mins.

It was put on by the military and we were given a handout stating, along with the amount of radiation we would receive, ( roughly equivalent to three medical x-rays in a year, again IIRC) a fierce admonition in bold letters (paraphrasing) “DO NOT TOUCH, PICK UP OR TAKE ANY OF THE PRETTY GREEN GLASS! VERY DANGEROUS”

I didn’t see any myself and I’m sure the part of the site we were let on had been picked over for fifty years.

Not all radiation is equal. Here is a page specifically about alpha radiation, which is, on the whole, fairly harmless.:

Alpha radiation is composed of a pair of protons and a pair of neutrons, so it is a helium atom stripped of electrons. There are two* other kinds of radiation detailed on the site linked above.

*(Or three, or two and a half, depending on how large of a difference you think there is between x-rays and gamma radiation.)