Prince Rupert’s Drop

I have been a science teacher for more than thirty years and believe that, at this point, I know a little something about communicating the nuances of the discipline. The other day my students were studying cnidarian tentacles for views of the stinging cells characteristic of that phylum. Later in the day I received an email from a student who sent a link to a fascinating video of nematocyst dischange recorded at an astonishing 130,000 frames per second. After viewing the video, one of a series entitled Smarter Every Day, a number of other video selections flashed up on my monitor and, among them, one in particular caught my attention. If you’ve got six minutes and thirty-eight seconds to spare I highly recommend that you take a look at the video entitled The Mystery of Prince Rupert’s Drop. Although it is not my intention that this post should be the first in a series which critiques similar videos, I could not resist posting this one. It is extremely well done. If I had interest and patience enough to watch this clip, several times, then it must be good.

By the way, Prince Rupert is the Prince Rupert (Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness, 1619 – 1682) and, although not a scientist himself, he played an important role in the history of the namesake drops by being the first to bring them to Britain in 1660. He gave them to King Charles II who, in turn, delivered them to the Royal Society for scientific examination in 1661.

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