prince rupert drop lo res

Smarter Every Day host Destin explores the glass hows and whys of Prince Rupert’s drop. Credit: SmarterEveryDay on Youtube.

Prince Rupert’s drops are tadpole-esque structures formed by simply dropping hot molten glass into cold water. While the drops look pretty cool, what’s even more intriguing is that they have some unique materials properties. The rapid solidification process toughens the glass by creating a high compressive strength exterior with a high tensile strength interior, so the drops resist shattering when slammed with a hammer. But, they easily explode with just a little distortion to the tail.

Watch the video to learn more about how this process works and to see some amazing slowed down images of the drops exploding. Check out more of Smarter Every Day‘s great videos to get smarter every day—like how to eliminate poop splash (yes, poop splash).

Prince Rupert’s drops are one of many cool science tricks that have a dual purpose—to educate and to fascinate. ACerS staff members also will educate and fascinate at the Superbowl of STEM going down at the end of April in Washington, D.C.!

Feature image credits: It’s Okay to Be Smart; Science-Junkie; ScienceCubed.