Aaaarh. The bottom fell out of my Scienceblogs coffee mug today! Don’t fear, ya’ scurvies. No one was hurt. For those so inclined, I provide a photo of the fracture and a brief analysis of the structural failure. You know, just for kicks. The details will of course be accompanied by fond reminiscence.
This was always a nice coffee mug because the handle stayed cool with hot liquids, even after it went through the microwave, which is something you can’t say about every mug. Other favorite mugs from far away and special places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Burg Eltz in Germany can only be used for moderate temperature liquids and dainty teas. This mug was a workhorse, though. The clear glass lets you watch the milk swirl in three dimensions. Very nice for caffeine fueled ruminations on stratified downwelling flows in a rotating frame of reference.
Has this happened to anyone else? The fracture, I mean. Here’s what I make of it. If you are a Scienceblogs coffee mug owner, you might notice a ventral seam running through the base and handle of the mug, and up the other side. This is not where the fracture occurred. The fracture ran up one side, but I presume the break occurred at the base, in the middle of an acute fracture I can see running at a ~20 degree angle to the seam. The seam is the stronger part of the mug.
Solids fail through the propagation of cracks, whose speed is controlled by instabilities at the smallest scales, according to the technical (but handy) website “How Things Break“. By this logic, the heat from my wife’s boiling hot dainty tea water would have forced expansion of the glass material, and the fracture would propagate outwards from a small instability like a bubble or a hairline crack. Make sense to you?