November 12, 2005 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone explain why these wine glasses broke for what appeared to be no reason at all?

A few weeks ago, a couple I know living in an apartment had a very strange occurrence one night. They were sitting in their living room when they heard what sounded like an ice cube cracking if dropped in a glass of water. In the kitchen they found two wine glasses that had been drying upside down on a towel from the night before, but when they picked them up, the rims on both of the wine glasses had been perfectly cut and separated. The cuts were clean enough to drink out of again. (See attached picture, sorry only one, the other one broke when showing a friend.) They showed me both wine glasses and they both had a fracture in the almost identical place. Being an engineer I instantly tried to come up with a logical explanation, (thermo-expansion, manufacturing flaw. Etc) but nothing really panned out. This is where I get stumped; things like this can happen, but not usually in pairs. The two wine glasses were different types (one wide bowl for reds and the other a narrow bowl for whites) and two different brands (bought at different stores). They were drying from the night before, towel and glasses were dry and no unusual temperature issues. This is a couple however, that has had a few strange things (ghost like things) happen to them. Things like lights/radios turning on and off for no explained reason, “cold” areas in a well heated room, etc. I do not want to disprove that this could be yet more handy work of a poltergeist, but more interested in if there are any ideas of how they could have cracked?
posted by retro88 to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
You picture doesn't work.
posted by Dean Keaton at 11:54 PM on November 12, 2005

posted by Dean Keaton at 11:54 PM on November 12, 2005

You can upload the image at www.imageshack.us, copy the direct link url and put it in [img="www.blahblah.cm/pic.jpg"] replacing the [] with <>
posted by Dean Keaton at 12:29 AM on November 13, 2005

Thanks Dean, lets try this one
posted by retro88 at 12:39 AM on November 13, 2005

This says:
"Never store crystal stemware upside down. The lip is the most fragile part of the glass and in time will crack and chip from the weight of the bowl and stem."

I think this could be a start. Search for "never store wine glasses upside down" for more paranormal evidence.
posted by stavrogin at 12:50 AM on November 13, 2005

I used to scold my roommate for such indiscretions. I always assumed thermal expansion cause the glass to break at a weakpoint. See as how the only variables that come into play are differences in humidity and temperature, why do you nto believe thermal-expansion as the culprit?
posted by geoff. at 1:08 AM on November 13, 2005

I had one glass break inside a cupboard while stored upside down (could have been a little damp after washing it). It was completely shattered except for the bottom part - all that was left were little shards of glass. After that incident I store my glasses right side up and it has never happended again. I believe it has something to do with condensation and the water in the glass forming a tight seal when in contact with the surface. I live in Georgia where it gets quite humid during the summer.

I don't know about ghosts using lights/radios. This can be explained by an electrical problem with the wiring to the lights. The radio could have been on an alarm or sleep setting.
The cold areas in a "well-heated" room can be explained by a cold draft coming from a window or doorway. I'm sorry but I have become a skeptic after watching a Ghost Hunters marathon on TV.
posted by plokent at 1:18 AM on November 13, 2005

i would guess that somehow they scratched the glass along the break line. wen i wash glasses, i typically insert a dishcloth and twist it round the rim. if that happened to contain a piece of grit, it could scratch in a suitable way. and if i was washing two glasses i could easily use the same part of the cloth for both, if they were washed in succession.

that would explain how two different kinds of glasses broke in the same way, at the same time.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:37 AM on November 13, 2005

It could be an error during manufacturing. Glasses that have cooled down too fast will build up inner tension that could easily break or even pulverize the glass. Watch this movie (RealPlayer) for exploding glass.
posted by Psychnic at 4:09 AM on November 13, 2005

You should never store glasses upside down - they form a seal with the shelf and if air-pressure changes don't cause them to break, the air trapped within them will go stale and taste worse than the dust you think you're keeping out of them by turning them upside-down. Store glasses the right way up and wash them thoroughly before each and every use.
posted by benzo8 at 7:03 AM on November 13, 2005

And if you wash the glasses in an identical manner, as with most routine tasks, AND you're wearing a nice diamond...
It is quite unusual that the pattern was the same for two different types of wine glass. Like most unusual events, there is probabaly a group of things that happened.
Scratched while washing, stored on the lip, dishwasher going underneath, vibrations, no-one has yet mentioned sound, but with crystal?
Slight de-rail here but if anyone knows how to get rid of scratches on fine crystal (OK not too fine, John Rocha's GEO range for Waterford crystal) coual they please e-mail me, I've already posted a question to AskMe this week!
posted by Wilder at 7:23 AM on November 13, 2005

I had a similar experience. 2 glasses, unused, sitting in the back of the shelf..so not that they were drying, they must have been sitting there over a week without being touched. 4am...*exposion* In the morning our family found bits of glass in all the other cups on the same level. the only way that is possible is if the pieces travelled vertically up and across enough to travel 6 or so inches. We were puzzled and I wonder till this day how it happened.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2005

Wow. I'm going right down and turn my wine glasses right-side-up. Thanks, AskMeFi!
posted by languagehat at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2005

Good tidbits, two things that didn't occur to me was the possiblility of washing the glasses with a dimond ring on and the dishwasher going. The dishwasher could have introduced heat, humidity and noice if it was running. I think i'll turn my own glasses right side up too!
posted by retro88 at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2005

Air pressure. Same deal as this experiment. You wash the glasses in hot water, turn them upside down, they seal with the bottom surface, they cool... Something has to happen. Either they break or a flaw forms in the glass (or they're tough enough to withstand it).

This is easy to demonstrate: wash glass in hot water, turn upside down onto counter. In a minute you'll hear a whistling, bubbling noise as air is sucked INTO the glass at the bottom lip, and when you remove the glass it will come up with a sucking noise. Obviously if you have hot water, a good seal, and thin glass, there's enough force to break the glass.

Tell your friends they imploded their wine glasses.
posted by jellicle at 10:38 AM on November 13, 2005

I have followed up, and upon closer inspection there are several scratch marks around the remaining bowl, most likely from her diamond ring. What ever event, vibration, thermal expansion triggered the event of one glass probably created enough of a shock to trigger the same event in the second glass. Still unsure what triggered event, glasses were not sitting near a dishwasher and it was not running. Glasses were sitting on a towel, which had dried, so making a air-tight seal with countertop seems unlikely.
posted by retro88 at 3:42 PM on November 14, 2005

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