Amazing Super-Slow-Motion Video of Glass Drops Exploding

The entire universe in blog form
June 1 2013 8:00 AM

Prince Rupert’s Drops. Exploding.

Prince Rupert's Drop exploding
I've seen things you wouldn't believe...Prince Rupert's Drops exploding off the shoulder of Orion...

Photo by Destin Sandlin, from the video

I was reading one my favorite science blogs, It’s OK to Be Smart, and was amazed by a video about something I’ve never seen or even heard of before: Prince Rupert’s Drops. These are tear-drop-shaped glass blobs with long, thin tails, made by dropping molten glass in water. They’re interesting, but when you try to shatter them, they become holy-cow-where-has-this-been-all-my-life amazing.

The video is from the remarkable Smarter Every Day video series. This is one of those rare times I don’t really need to explain anything; the host does a great job taking care of that. Watch the whole thing. It’s truly cool.

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[Update (June 1, 2013 at 23:00 UTC): It has been brought to my attention that at about the one minute mark in the video, the host uses the word "pansy" to describe someone else in the video. This word has negative connotations in the gay community; it's been used as a homophobic slur in the past and many in the gay community are offended by it. I was unaware of its use in the video when I posted it; I simply missed it. I certainly don't endorse the use of words that marginalize groups of people, and I apologize for that. I will keep the video up, because its scientific value is high, but also because it's already started a dialogue here (and on the original YouTube page) which can help open up more understanding.]

[Make sure you have it set to the highest resolution.]

How about that? Glass is a fascinating subject, but I literally had no idea about this. So look at that: I learned something, and it’s OK to be smarter every day.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!