As a human invention, glass is a remarkable thing. It helps us see, keeps the elements at bay and holds our precious liquid tonics. If you have even watched a bee when it comes to a window and suddenly finds itself in some kind of living cycle of a nightmare, it goes a bit like this. The feet feel that it is on a solid surface, but the being of the poor little creature sees the world through the glass and can’t understand why it can’t get to it anymore. Same with flies, just faster. And wasps that circle away from the glass only to come straight back again.
The small geckos here love the glass-windows. They may not understand glass or even see it the way most humans would, but they know it traps their prospective prey in a cycle. As a result, after we put the kitchen windows in the geckos started to appear first just a few and then in higher numbers as they realised this was like a honey trap to a bear. Some times the glass is overlapped when the sliding window is open, and one can visibly see the confusion for both the gecko and its prey as they are separated by yet another layer.
The invention of glass is great for humans but very confusing and dangerous for insects and animals alike. Birds fly straight into windows and sometimes die instantly. There is not a living creature on the planet apart from people who can reason out the glass, and what it is, what it does and where it is located. Occasionally even people get confused by glass and smack straight into a sliding door that they thought was open.
Mirrors are made of glass. The illusive looking glass that only shows us what we see as inverted, not what others see when they look at us. The mirror is not a preferred place to dwell, the window is more appealing – it looks out onto the far country where life is happening and at work. Sometimes though for maintenance purposes, the mirror is handy and mainly when it is used inside cameras and other technologies to capture images (Hubble).
Glass is made from melted beach sand or more technically soda-lime glass, the most common in everyday usage is 70% silicate-based. Presumably, glass can be made from the surface of the moon because that too is a silicon substance which can be melted to glass. This means that when meteorites have hit the moon in the past, they might have formed large patches of glass, but this is just a hypothesis. Indeed the moon it is said to have been flung into being from a meteorite colliding with the Pacific Ocean floor (another more celebrated conjecture). If this is true, it makes the moon the most ideal private beach without water this world has ever known.
James and I were sitting at the dining room table one time last year very absorbed in a project. We were both entirely focussed when suddenly, a magnificent explosion occurred just a few feet away from us. It was glass. It was a blue glass bottle, designed initially to carry gin and it had been brewing our banana wine (which is more like banana moonshine). This was no ordinary explosion. The pressure must have been extreme as the sound could be heard across the farm as a deep boom, and everyone either stopped in their tracks or came running.
The only part of a large room that was not covered in tiny, vicious shards of shattered blue glass was the immediate vicinity of where James and I sat. No explanation whatsoever except perhaps the protection of angels. We were still finding glass shards weeks later despite the most thorough attempt to clean up, which is usually the way of things when it comes to shattered glass.
Glass beads, glass bottoms, glass paperweights, bulletproof glass, windscreens, spectacles, glasswork fibres, glass storage containers, glass shelves and tables, high-rise glass, tempered glass – the list goes on.
Nature and its creatures will forever understand glass as a puzzle, a trap, a thing to tell the grandkids to avoid at all costs. A warning to explain to them that this strange effect can occur and that it is generally invisible and creeps up on you like a 2-dimensional ghost and then magnetises you to the same spot. So be vigilant, it can happen at any time. It is like an insect vortex.
Oh, the progress and technology of the human race, where would we be without it? If next time you see an animal or insect trapped by the glass, you may be faced with an ethical dilemma. To help bring freedom or to let this excellent example of non-nature and human achievement take its course. Are you a disrupter or a preserver of life?