Glass is versatile stuff, good for a million uses.

But when we drop it? Not good.

A new project out of McGill University may have found a way to make glass a lot less fragile.


Researchers have tried for a long time to find a way to make glass more durable.

But previous methods have often made it less transparent, and therefore less useful for many purposes.

The McGill team used a model from nature for their glass: mother of pearl, the material in the inner layer of mollusk shells.

It’s made up of very stiff, strong material, but it also includes soft proteins, so it’s also elastic.

It’s 3,000 times stronger than the materials from which it’s made, according to the scientists.

They developed a new glass and acrylic compound that has the same qualities: much stronger than regular glass, and five times more resistant to fracturing.

That’s probably good news for anybody who’s ever dropped a smartphone in just the wrong way and has to try to work around those little cracks in the screen for a while.

And it reminds me of the time I ran a mollusk-themed art business.

It was – wait for it – a shell company.

In Brazil, a street artist is using nature to help shape his designs.

Fabio Gomes Trindade makes his outdoor art with the nearby trees and bushes in mind.

For example, under an enormous tree with big purple leaves, he created a mural showing a woman with a big head of purple hair.

Unbreakable glass inspired by seashells (McGill University)

Street Artist Incorporates Flowering Plants Into His Graffiti to Stunning Visual Effect (Oddity Central)

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Photo by Stephanie via Flickr/Creative Commons