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Learn the Science of How to Break a Wine Glass With Your Voice

Learn the Science of How to Break a Wine Glass With Your Voice

Normally wine glasses only get broken after we’ve had too much chardonnay, but in movies they also shatter when an opera singer hits that big last note. That theatrical flourish isn’t some Hollywood hogwash however, because you really can break a wine glass with your voice, especially if you know the science behind it…and have the stamina to sing long enough.

The Physics Girl Dianna Cowern’s newest video explores her attempts at hitting the right note — literally — to make a wine glass break, while explaining the science behind how it is possible. It has to do with a wine glass being an oscillating system, which in the simplest terms means it vibrates. If you match its resonant frequency (the note it vibrates at when you flick it), you can make it break it if you hold the matching note loud and long enough.

While some glasses will be too strong for those of us lacking strong singing voices, you can pull off this trick at parties with some helpful hints: 1) a slight scratch in the glass can give it a weakened point to break, 2) use a glass that rings when you hit it, 3) a thin rim means it will deform more, and 4) those types are usually made of crystal.

But remember, you need to keep singing at it for a very long time, because the longer you do the more it creates small cracks in the glass’s normal defects, which get bigger the longer you sing at it. Eventually they reach a critical breaking point and shatter.

So if you do plan on busting this out at a party our advice would be to “warm up” before anyone gets there. Not only will the glass break “faster,” you won’t annoy your guests by making them listen to you sing the same note forever. That would lead to another party trick: making everyone disappear. And then you and your broke glass will spend the rest of the night alone drinking wine out of the bottle.

Have you ever tried doing this? Think you can? Tell us why in the comments below.

Featured Image: The Physics Girl

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