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Sand into Glass

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ireth, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Not sure if this would do better in Research: if so, please move. :)

    I have a plot wherein several characters are going to battle a fire-breathing dragon on a beach beside the sea, in a temperate-climate country in early autumn (say mid-September-ish). If the dragon starts spewing flames at the people on the sand, I understand the silicon in the sand would turn it to glass; but what would it look like? Would it remain molten for a long time, or would the waves cool it off quickly? (Also, would wet sand from the tideline melt at a different rate than dry sand?)
     
  2. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Have a look at desert glass. Just give it a quick Google search. It's pretty cool stuff. I'm using the concept for a side project right now. So basically, millions of years ago meteors struck the desert and the intense heat caused the sand to turn to sheets up glass. They are all broken up now, but people do find the desert glass and make jewellery out if it...

    Libyan desert glass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Thanks Helio, but I'm looking for info on the most immediate results of the change.
     
  4. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    This is some stuff I know. Type into google "sand struck by lightning", I think the fire from the dragon would be close to the same, so I think it would work in color and description. I think the water would steam, and quickly cool the glass. I don't think the temperature of the wet sand will matter really. (it is a dragon after all.)

    Hope it helps.
     
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  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Good answers here. It's so handy to have science types around, isn't it?

    But don't forget magic. It's an opportunity to add some sort of magic-related effect to the process. The glass might be imbued with certain properties. Or it hardens instantly. Or not for years. Or, I dunno, turns into dancing pixies first. You get to choose!
     
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Well, the setting itself is very low magic, so my options there are limited. XD The only magic involved comes from the main characters themselves, who are all from another world than the dragon and the supporting cast, where magic IS common. And their magic has nothing to do with fire or earth. They'll be focused on either combat, defense or healing for the most part anyway, so even the one who has elemental magic (water, not fire) won't be in much position to use it. Manipulating the ocean might not go over too well with the other combatants. XD
     
  7. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello Ireth.

    I just moved this thread to the Research Forum. I wanted to say that, from a strictly realistic point of view, you would have some serious trouble with this scenario. The first point is that you would need the beach in question to be composed of silica sand only, because only silica sand (also known as quartz sand) will transform into glass.

    Then, you would need the sand in question to be really fine-grained. It would have to be so fine that your characters would be in danger of lung damage simply from inhaling it, actually.

    The other problem comes from the fact that it takes some 2300 degrees Celsius to melt the super-fine silica sand in order to make glass, and that would mean dragon flames so powerful that your characters would be in great danger even if the flames do not even touch them. Also, even with heat of that level the silica sand takes some time to melt, it's not an immediate effect.

    Commercial production of glass involves mixing the silica sand with certain additives, so the melting point is lowered significantly. It's a complex and tricky process, and it takes some time.

    I would really recommend supernatural Magic for this scenario, and it's a super cool idea anyway.
     
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  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Good to know, Sheila. So what would happen if it was just ordinary sand, not pure silica, and not so fine-grained? Would it just get super hot without melting?
     
  9. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hey Ireth.

    In case it was just ordinary beach sand, it would not transform into glass completely because it contains various impurities that are undesirable in the glass making process. You would still get some glass from it in case the dragon's fire was hot enough to melt it, but it would not be the same as with silica sand.

    You can watch the video right here, in which a person failed to melt beach sand to make glass even though the additives were included.

    The solution would be to make the beach 100% silica sand, even if it's not very fine-grained. Then, your dragon would need to shoot some kind of super hot fire in order to melt it instantly (something like 30000 degrees Celsius), and you would need a way to protect your characters from the terrible heat released by this brutal fire.

    Another option would be to have the dragon shooting powerful bolts of lightning instead, or something like laser beams.

    In this other video, somebody uses a powerful HHO (Oxyhydrogen) torch in order to melt what looks like ordinary beach sand. That flame is somewhere between 2800 and 3200 degrees Celsius, and you can see how long it takes to melt the sand.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
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  10. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Maester

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    Two options: the flames melt the silica into glass creating a thin sheet laying on the surface of the beach or the breath fro the dragon blows sand into the air, which is then melted into glass shards. The shards continue the flight path into whomever the dragon is fighting. The only specifics about the sand I might mention is it being fine grains and dry, making it easier for the wind and dragons breath to raise into the air.
     
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