So I had this idea of a world with an ocean sized pool of super hard glass that formed millions of years ago on this planet.

I started to think of the implications of something like that: In some areas there would literal mountains of glass-sand. At times there would sandstorms that blow at speed of hundred of miles per hour, completely shredding anything that isn't a mineral to pieces. Creatures would have to either live under deep canyons that have been eroded by time, or be able to actually dig there way into the glass.

So ideas for creatures: Superheated creatures that melt the glass and sand (maybe even eating it by breaking it down into an edible form)

Also, I was reading about fiber optics, and what about vast channels of consolidated, special glass that allowed for the evolution of light-construct creatures? Energy whales and sharks? Literally swimming through channels of light focusing glass.

Looking for some other ideas or some interesting world build tips for a world like this :)

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    $\begingroup$ If you want more affirmative answers to the question, I suggest that you subtract the physics tag and add the science-fiction or science-fantasy tag, then the idea of light-construct creatures opens up a few more possibilities which physics as we know it won't permit. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ You need to ask a more specific question, you are asking four or five drastically different questions. this is a perfect question to run through the sandbox first. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 4:10

3 Answers 3


Creatures would have to either live under deep canyons that have been eroded by time,

Well, what is doing the erosion? Wind and sand? Probably not very good places to shelter!

or be able to actually dig there way into the glass.

You've already stated the glass is "super-hard". This rather limits the ability of any creature to dig into it. Even if they had evolved harder-than-glass claws (corundum, maybe?) there's little point to doing so... they'd be better just leaving such a hostile environment instead of wasting all their energy digging somewhere that has no food and no water. If there is food and water, it'd have to be surface water (hard to erode glass, and it isn't very porous) and anything living there would be in the water or on its surface. Probably just algal gloop, in the absense of a good supply of nutrients from outside the glass region. Don't need claws to eat gloop!

Superheated creatures that melt the glass and sand (maybe even eating it by breaking it down into an edible form)

Melting glass takes a lot of heat, and a lot of energy. Where is this energy coming from? You can't realistically break down glass into an edible form as it has already been quite thoroughly oxidised. If you had access to hydrofluoric acid and an HF-based biochemistry you'd be able to oxidise the glass, but you'd need a ready supply of rare fluorine-based compounds, and you're unlikely to find a lot of them just lying around in a big plain of regular glass. They'd effectively just suffocate, surrounded by bland, low-nutrition food. Doesn't sound very appealing.

Literally swimming through channels of light focusing glass.

Leaving aside the possibility of natural fibre optic channels forming in natural glass, signals don't "swim" down optical fibres. They can't decide to change direction or turn around. They just propagate down the channel to the end where they are emitted or absorbed or reflected, depending on what is there. Signals don't last forever, either... there's always some loss and absorbtion, even in the highest quality optic fibres. Very long fibres have devices spaced along their length to "regenerate" signals.

That said though, there is some scope for something weird to live in there. Have a think about the nature of Stephen Baxter's Qax, and maybe phonons in the glass that propagate at merely the speed of sound in glass, not the speed of light...


Crack creatures.

Super hard things crack. Your ocean would be traversed with immense cracks, and look like the surface of Europa. Nutrients, water and other things needed for life would be concentrated into these cracks and these 2-dimensional crack ecosystems would therefore be good places for life. Photosynthesizers would take up residence in the crack layers close enough to the surface to receive light, sending roots down to intercept nutrients and water. Probably these roots would stress the glass and encourage propagation of cracks (and weathering of the glass). Photosynthesizers might put up dispensable light harvest organs above the surface, expecting to lose them in the storms but capturing lots of light energy until they do.

Heterotrophs would migrate along the cracks, feeding on plants and each other. Those which traversed the surface would be able to take refuge in a handy crack when storms came. Some of these refuge cracks might be inhabited by ambush predators. I envision these organisms like slime molds or flatworms - 2 dimensional or capable of becoming so when need arises.


Some scattered thoughts -- In a glass world - I imagine some form of silicon based life. The storms you describe remind me of sand-blasting and the kinds of rubbery materials used to block off the particles. This suggests the creature or being would have a silicone skin that constantly grows and sheds in tiny piece somewhat like our own skin. Glass though hard is also very brittle and it will fracture. You could make the temperature of your world near or within temperature ranges where the glass is close to changing from solid to liquid. That might offer properties where less energy is needed to affect the glass either to melt it or to initiate a fracture. At higher temperatures your creature or being might need a sapphire based skin or outer shell. Due to the high viscosity of glass at lower temperature ranges of melt physical movement through liquid glass would be extremely slow and difficult. At higher temperatures your lifeforms would require something like a sapphire shell and ways to cool itself. There are special types of glass that melt at low temperatures -- lead crystal for example. There is even a special type of glass formulated with Vanadium that has an extremely low melt temperature. It's used for hermetic sealing electronic components. Actually glass comes in hundreds of different formulations with a wide range of properties. My mind jumped to the idea of a silicone sea on a base of glass heated from the center of the planet as well as from its sun. I don't recall why the Earth's core is hot -- but there are several ways to imagine a heated core. I recall some of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn have heated cores. Suppose your lifeforms do not move about but incorporates structures into the glass mountains to expand and replicate itself. Perhaps your glass grew as a kind of miniature spaghetti of glass fibers your light based creatures might modify it to assemble themselves as a giant optical computer. Maybe a natural lasing action provides energy the creatures can use -- something analogous to the hydrothermal vents in our oceans.

  • $\begingroup$ Your first answer. Shows promise, but the way it's presented is a very difficult-to-read wall of text. Could you break it up into paragraphs (press enter twice for line-space) , it would make it much more readable. (From review) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 1:11

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