Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Prince Rupert's Drops

No, not the band, the strange physical phenomenon that came first. To quote wikipedia, Prince Rupert's drops are
glass objects created by dripping molten glass into cold water. The glass cools into a tadpole-shaped droplet with a long, thin tail. The water rapidly cools the molten glass on the outside of the drop, while the inner portion of the drop remains significantly hotter. When the glass on the inside eventually cools, it contracts inside the already-solid outer part. This contraction sets up very large compressive stresses on the exterior, while the core of the drop is in a state of tensile stress. It can be said to be a kind of tempered glass. The very high residual stress within the drop gives rise to unusual qualities, such as the ability to withstand a blow from a hammer on the bulbous end without breaking, while the drop will disintegrate explosively if the tail end is even slightly damaged.
Still photo of what they mean by "disintegrate explosively" above. Click on the image to watch the video, from Smarter Every Day. Very, very strange.

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