Watch a Prince Rupert’s Drop glass object explode at 130,000 fps


posted Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM EDT


The Prince Rupert's Drop is a curious piece of science and glassmaking, and it's only with the recent development of incredibly high-speed video cameras that we've managed to fully pick apart the particulars of how they work. This video from Smarter Every Day on YouTube shows just how incredible the Prince Rupert's Drop is, and why they have such peculiar properties.

A Prince Rupert's Drop is a glob of molten glass that's dropped into a volume of water, forming a teardrop shape. As it cools from the outside in, it forms a layer of incredibly tough glass, but under immense stress. So if you do manage to break it, the results are dramatic. The way it breaks, however, is what makes this glass object so fascinating. While you can hammer the large, round area of the drop as hard as you like,  it will remain intact. But so much as nick the tail, and it explosively detonates.

By using a Phantom V1610 camera, Smarter Every Day manages to capture the shatter at a jaw-dropping 130,000 fps. Meanwhile, they also shoot the explosion using a higher resolution 3,000 fps Phantom Miro camera at the same time. The footage they captured is incredible, as it's only at these speeds that you can actually see the fracture wave advance along the body of the Drop.

Not only is the footage dramatic in and of itself, but it also allowed the team to calculate the velocity of the failure front that progresses along the drop: a whopping 1.03 miles per second. That's more than 3700 miles per hour, or nearly Mach 5. The clip below is nearly seven minutes long but, believe us, it's worth it if you like high-speed photography, science, and a dose of everyday magic.


(via io9)