posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Breaking Glass"


Explanation: Early 20th-century Italian tenor Enrico Caruso could supposedly shatter champagne flutes with his high notes. No evidence exists to corroborate Caruso's claims, but physics principles side with the opera singer.

Clink a wine glass with a fork, and the high-pitched tone you hear is its natural resonance. Every object possesses a natural resonance, or a specific frequency, that causes it to vibrate. Therefore, when the fork vibrates the glass, the natural resonance sings out. A human voice could theoretically shatter that same glass by matching its high-pitched natural resonance tone, potentially producing vibrations powerful enough to break it.

MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage put those physics principles in motion by recruiting a trained vocalist to break some crystal glasses. They picked crystal due to its fragile structure and also hand-picked glasses with clear, ringing natural resonance notes that would be easier for the vocalist to strike.

Demonstrating the piercing power of the human voice, the singer not only broke glasses with an amplified voice, but also without any acoustic enhancements. For final myth confirmation, untrained Adam Savage also shattered a glass, while everyone's eardrums miraculously escaped intact.

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