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10 Breaking Points

The pressure it takes to break everything from raindrops to stars.

Physical stress can operate in unexpected ways. For example, it takes more pressure to shoot a cork from a bottle of champagne than…By Conor Myhrvold

Physical stress can operate in unexpected ways. For example, it takes more pressure to shoot a cork from a bottle of champagne than to raze a concrete building. If that seems counterintuitive, keep in mind that you don’t need a lot of pressure to generate significant force. After all, the same amount of wind pressure that barely rustles your clothes can propel a yacht. That’s because pressure measures a force’s intensity across a given surface area: The more area you put under pressure, the more force you get.


Here are the magnitudes of pressure, in pascals, it takes to ...

Move the ball to see what breaks when.



Beyond the Horizon of the Universe

For two weeks every summer, my parents rented a holiday apartment by the beach in Vlora, an old coastal town along the Adriatic. It was known as Aulona in Greek and Roman times, and was a special place to visit...READ MORE

Conor Myhrvold writes about science, technology, and nature. His other work has appeared in Nature, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, Ars Technica, and Fast Company Labs.

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