Spring Joint Science Symposium (Part 2)
Justin Hallquist ended the talks with a literal bang as he talked about his work with Professor Silverman on “Prince Rupert’s Drop”, a special kind of glass teardrop that literally exploded if its tail end is broken off. These “drops” are formed by immersing molten glass in cold water, in which the outside of the glass instantly hardens and subjects the bulbous portion of the glass to incredibly high internal pressures. Snapping the tail off sends shockwaves through the glass, forming many shards and pieces. In particular, Justin studied the particle distribution of the shards; in other words, he counted the size and mass of the shards in order to determine whether they break just like objects destroyed through abrasion and impact. Universally, the statistics of these breakings are linear (a straight line) when the logarithm are plotted. Literally, though, this involved counting thousands and thousands of particles, which proved very difficult to figure out. Thus, Justin was developing a method to count particles through staining with indelible ink and using imaging software. If the statistics aren’t as normal, a new kind of physical phenomenon will be open for further exploration.
While the talks were all short, there was no doubt that they generated interest and excitement. Everyone there was proud to be part of an institution where such revolutionary research in so many different fields is being done by undergraduate students.