Material science is an area that has aroused a great deal of interest in recent years, because there is such a need to develop materials that can withstand the demands of modern life and yet are available at low cost in the natural environment.  Recently material scientists have discovered a sponge made out of glass that has amazing properties.  The sponge named Euplectella aspergillum lives in deep water in the western Pacific ocean.  It is made up of silica (or glass) and has cells that make up a skeleton about 8" long and about 1" in diameter.  It is pure glass but is incredibly strong.  You can jump on it and you will not break the structure.

The normal brittleness of glass is avoided by having several levels of design according to researchers.  The first is vertical and horizontal beams that form a grid making up the walls.  Every second square of that grid has a diagonal beam and every third set of diagonal beams is thick enough to stick out of the grid's plane.  This three-dimensional structure prevents crushing of the structure.  As an example, if a pop can had ridges along its sides, it would be much stronger than it is.

Each beam consists of thinner cylinders cemented together with more glass, and these parallel cylinders support one another because if one cylinder fails its neighbors take up the slack.  In addition, each cylinder consists of concentric rings like the rings of a tree, and these rings are cemented together.  The rings are thicker toward the center of the cylinder by a factor of seven.  Scientists have found that this sponge's structure is "almost unbreakable."  There is a final design feature and that is that the sponge is wired to the floor of the ocean by glass wires which give flexibility, so the sponge can swing freely with whatever force it encounters.

Joanna Aizenberg of Bell Laboratories says the sponge is the strongest glass structure one can imagine.  "It was clearly, incredibly beautiful design-wise.  In a way, it's a glass house at which you can throw stones."  God has brought incredible wisdom into every area of life, and the more we study that design, the more "we can know there is a God through the things he has made" (Romans 1:20).

--Reference:  Science News, March 25, 2006, page 184-5.

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