Through a Glass, Darkly: Dispelling Three Common Misconceptions in Glass Science



The field of glass science is at a critical juncture. With many recent advances in theoretical glass physics, computational capabilities, and processing and characterization technology, there has surely never been a more exciting time to be a glass scientist. However, much of our current glass science education focuses on concepts that have been rejected based on a combination of rigorous theory and experimental observations. In this article, I review three common misconceptions often taught in glass science curricula, viz., the Kauzmann paradox, the divergence of supercooled liquid dynamics, and the notion of residual entropy. In each case, there is now ample experimental and theoretical evidence disproving these concepts. These topics are misleading and confusing to students in the field, and I argue that a better use of the students’ time would be to focus on building a rigorous foundation in the underlying physics, chemistry, and mathematics of glass. Such a rigorous foundation is necessary for students to be successful in the high-technology jobs of the future and to discover the next great advances in glass science and technology.