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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Your Glass Can Fail


Click image to enlarge.

As reality-hardened™ engineers know, no matter how many years you've trod this Earth, there's always something new to go wrong when you least expect it. A few days ago, I went to refill my glass of programming fluid with sugar-free lemonade. The propellant transfer operation was nominal, but when I raised the glass to my lips to imbibe the refreshing beverage, the bottom of the glass separated, jettisoning its entire contents in a messy libation to the Floor God. Apparently, thanks to hundreds of temperature cycles in the Fourmilab dishgrinder, a hairline crack had propagated all around the base of the glass, and the shock of being filled with chilly swill sufficed to advance the fracture all the way through.

I cleaned up the mess, washed the failed glass, and took the picture above. Remember, however confident you may be of the absence of slips twixt cup and lip, your glass can fail.

And, yes, the title of this post is an oblique reference to Larry Niven's 1967 story, “Safe at Any Speed”.

Posted at September 13, 2009 00:09