by Jen Graves
on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 2:52 PM
The Museum of Glass, in a 10th-anniversary party this coming Friday night, is inviting a bunch of local bands to try to break glass using only their music. The bands are: Friends and Family, Nolan Garrett, Joy Wants Eternity, Hot Bodies in Motion, Miles Max and Rumble Pack, and Not from Brooklyn. WHO WILL BREAK THE GLASS?
Physics suggests that a voice should be able to break glass. Every piece of glass has a natural resonant frequency—the speed at which it will vibrate if bumped or otherwise disturbed by some stimulus, such as a sound wave—as does every other material on Earth. Glass wine goblets are especially resonant because of their hollow tubular shape, which is why they make a pleasant ringing sound when clinked. If a person sings the same tone as that ringing note—a high C in legend but in reality the matching pitch could be any note—the sound of her voice will vibrate the air molecules around the glass at its resonant frequency, causing the glass to start vibrating as well. And if she sings loudly enough, the glass will vibrate itself to smithereens.
"It's possible, but you have to be both good and lucky," says Jeffrey Kysar, a mechanical engineer at Columbia University who studies the different ways in which materials can fracture and fail. "Even if you could excite the cup, that doesn't guarantee it would break. Fracture depends on the size of the initial defects." So in order for a diva to successfully demolish a wine glass, she would have to fortuitously choose one with microscopic defects that are big enough to buckle under pressure.
Here's to exciting the cups, bands. And here's the promo video intended to ignite your smashy desire. Tickets are ten bucks.