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How is a lollipop like glass?

Lollipops and glass are both members of a special group of solids called amorphous solids—along with stuff like rubber, plastic, wood, and living tissue. Amorphous solids are true to their name: Their atoms aren’t arranged in an orderly pattern.

The lack of long-range order in the atoms of a lollipop is a good thing. It means that when you bite it, it will break easily into small pieces. If the atoms were arranged in an orderly, crystalline structure, the candy would be rock hard.

The similarity between glass and lollipops has been put to use in Hollywood. In early films, fake glass windows known as “candy glass” were used for fight scenes. The candy glass, made from a sugar syrup, shattered realistically, but it was much less sharp and a lot safer than real glass. In modern movies, however, the fake glass is made mostly of plastic.

In a typical crystalline solid, the atoms are tightly bound in a regimented order. In an amorphous solid such as glass or a lollipop, the atoms aren’t orderly.



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