Early on Wednesday (April 6), officials at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan announced that radiation-contaminated water was no longer leaking out of the damaged reactors there and trickling into the ocean. Workers managed to plug the leak, they said, with a mixture of sawdust, newspaper, concrete, and liquid glass.

One of those things is not like the other.

Liquid glass, technically known as sodium silicate, is a chemical compound made of sodium, silicon and oxygen that gets produced in high-temperature chemical reactions between salt and sand. It is liquid at room temperature, explaining its common name.

Because of its strong adhesive properties, liquid glass is sometimes used to stick things together. When injuected into concrete, it also significantly reduces that material's porosity; in other words, it fills in the cracks. That property may have helped Fukushima workers block the leaking radioactive water.

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