More Than One Way to Break An Egg

More Than One Way to Break An Egg

The egg’s shape is undeniably beautiful, but it also has several amazing advantages built in to suit the environment and behavior of different bird species.

For example, one bird, the common murre, nests on narrow cliffs. Their eggs are unusually long and thin, with a wide base. For this reason, if you try to roll the egg, it simply spins, making it much more likely that common murre eggs will survive to hatch!

How to make a sucky egg

Demo by our comrade, the Crazy Russian HackerDemo by our comrade, the Crazy Russian Hacker

A simple experiment that you may remember from elementary school will show you a little more about the amazing potential of the egg’s shape.

For this, you’ll need a glass bottle, a match, some newspaper and a hard-boiled egg:

First, peel the egg. If you can, coat the rim of the bottle with a little vegetable oil, to make the experiment easier.

Make sure that the bottle is narrower than the egg, so the egg doesn’t fall in!

Aaaand voila! by videojugAaaand voila! by videojug

Next, cut a strip of newspaper and set it on fire. Quickly drop it into the bottle.

Once the flame goes completely out, set the egg on top of the bottle. Watch what happens! (Because of changes in air pressure, the egg should be sucked into the bottle without breaking.)

If you’d like to remove your egg from the bottle, blow into the bottle and then turn it upside down. By changing the air pressure inside the bottle yet again, you should be able to get the egg to come right back out!

Or you could just do this…

Bad pun about how incredible eggs are

Add glowstick liquid for an instant rave breakfast
Add glowstick liquid for an instant rave breakfast

Some birds have also evolved to produce eggs whose distinctive colors increase their chances for survival.

Eggs with spots, for example, are much easier to camouflage, and even eggs whose shells are white, often considered the default color for eggshells, are thought to appear very different to birds who can see a different spectrum of ultraviolet light.

Eggs also come in many different shapes and sizes, and are often much smaller than you might think.

Eggs in many shapes and sizes
An egg is a beautiful, sophisticated thing that can create even more sophisticated things, such as chickens.

The largest egg on record belonged to the now-extinct elephant bird, and was about 11 inches long.

Surprisingly, most dinosaur eggs that have been found are much smaller than this, often around five inches (although in 2012, there was a report of eggs found in Chechnya that were around three feet in length, far bigger than any other dinosaur egg on record. Most scientists brushed this off as a hoax, but had it been real, it would have changed everything we know about dinosaurs today!).

David has a big fat egg
David Attenborough with an Elephant Bird Egg via the bbc

Eggshells are thought of as invariably thin, and it is true that most of them are thin enough that a chick can peck through them when the time comes.

However, this is not always true–the cassowary, a flightless bird in Australia and Papua New Guinea, lays eggs with shells up to 1/4 in. thick!

Species have evolved to deal with this potential liability–some believe that dinosaurs laid eggs through a tube, like some modern animals do, so that the eggs wouldn’t break as they fell to the ground.

How to make a see-through egg

Just wipe that shell offJust wipe that shell off

Eggshells are beautiful, but it’s difficult to understand the inner structure of the egg if you have to break it first!

This experiment will allow you to take a look at an egg as it is when it comes out of the chicken (or the carton, at least).

You’ll need a glass jar, some white vinegar, and, of course, an egg:

Simply place the egg in the jar, then pour in enough vinegar so that it is mostly covered. You should notice tiny bubbles forming on the surface of the egg.

Just wipe that shell offEt viola!

After 12 to 24 hours, carefully pour out the vinegar. You can now gently handle the shell-less egg with your bare hands (but, needless to say, remember that it’s very fragile!).

You can also experiment with soaking the egg in fresh water, salt water, or water colored with food coloring to see how it changes.

The pressure test

Great acting or tough egg?Great acting or tough egg?

Which brings us to our final experiment, in which we finally come to an understanding of the true strength of the humble eggshell.

For this experiment, you’ll need nothing more than an egg (and maybe one or two extra, just in case!) and your bare hands.

There’s more than one way to break an egg, as they say, but we’re going to try more than one.

An individual egg can withstand about 30-40 pounds of pressure.

First, place an egg between your palms lengthwise. Put pressure on either side using your palms. Chances are, if you are doing this correctly, you won’t be able to break it!

This test reports more than 50 lbs and 90 lbs sidewaysThis test reports more than 50lbs and 90lbs sideways!

Next, if you’re brave enough, try squeezing the egg in one palm with your fingers wrapped around it.

Be warned, however, your results might be much different in this case (and you might want to have some paper towels on hand)!