The Paradox of Prince Rupert’s Drop

Prince Rupert's drop is a glass artifact that exhibits two properties that are the exact opposite of each other—they are extremely tough and extremely fragile at the same time.

The drop looks like a tadpole with a bulbous head and a long, thin tail. The head is so strong that it can withstand the impact of a hammer, and bullets fired at it at point-blank range have been shown to shatter on impact—the bullet, not the glass. Yet, if you take the drop’s tail and snap it with your finger, it causes the entire droplet, including the hardened glass head, to explosively disintegrate into powder.


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