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I just had this thought today:

I wonder what the shattering would look like if you "dropped" a glass or a ceramic cup in zero gravity.

Obviously you can't drop it, you'd have to like throw it. But then what would it look like when breaking?

I was surprised not to find any YouTube videos showing it...

So what would happen? Will the pieces be shattered in all directions? Is it somehow harder to break a glass in space? Does it look like an explosion? Why has no one tried and filmed it yet?

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  • $\begingroup$ More of a physics question, I think. Besides the jury is still out on the mechanism of shattering glass - let alone shattering glass in vacuum. $\endgroup$ – Everyone Jun 30 '14 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ In living spaces, this would be exceedingly dangerous, for tiny shards will be inhaled afterwards. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jun 30 '14 at 7:35
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When you break glass in zero gravity, the shards will keep flying in a straight line instead of falling to the ground. As @Deer Hunter said, this makes it incredibly dangerous to try out in an open space.
Doing it safely means doing the experiment inside a sealed container, so this moves from being something that can be done just for fun, to an expensive planned experiment. The question then becomes: what can we learn from this experiment? At first glance, I'd say not much. There's no reason to expect glass breaks differently in zero gravity. So you'd have an expensive experiment with no apparent value.

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    $\begingroup$ One has to note that there are fracturing tests conducted back here on Earth for optical quality vitreous materials - quartz, sapphire, Pyrex, whatever. See: ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20060008702.pdf $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jun 30 '14 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I'm a little offended, that randomly breaking s#!t supposedly has no apparent value, but your answer is very thorough. ;-) Thanks! $\endgroup$ – olli Jul 2 '14 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ @DeerHunter, note that those tests were done in Earth's gravity. The fact that they didn't book some zero-G time in a vomit comet indicates to me NASA didn't think it'd make any difference. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jul 2 '14 at 15:57

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