hit me with your best shot
Dec. 17, 2009 5:30 pm
Updated: Apr. 28, 2010 9:34 pm
I remember once in high school, I was heading to the tennis courts with a friend, Tom. And as we were ambling along, we passed another classmate, Jeff, a guy who was kind of a bully, a bit of a jerk, and not really all that bright.
My friend, who's not really a jerk, made a jokey, somewhat jerky move like he was going to whack Jeff over the head with his tennis racket. As jokes go, not a great one. Certainly Jeff didn't think it was all that funny. He stopped cold in his tracks and turned to my friend and said menacingly, "I been hit by worse."
That always struck me as -- well, as either a lie, one, or as not necessarily something to brag about, two.
Anyway, I was reminded me of that story the other day as I was reading an article about which thing is better to be hit over the head with, an empty beer bottle or a full beer bottle.
Doubtless it is far better to be hit with neither. To be hit with nothing. But in any event, one of these has been scientifically proven to be better to be hit over the head with than the other. And since I've got a booze blog going here, I figure it is my solemn duty to share this important morsel of knowledge.
If you’re like me, you might think the full beer bottle would crack the head open with more gusto. A full bottle would seem more solid, heftier, like the club of a caveman. The empty bottle seems all air, just a flimsy outer shell of thin glass that I would expect to shatter like a stunt prop.
Ah-ha! But you see, here's the truth. The full bottle is full of a carbonated beverage. And all those would-be bubbles are exerting pressure on the inside of the glass. So when the glass comes crashing down on your noodle, the pressure that’s constantly being applied from the inside meets the pressure being suddenly and viciously applied from the outside and crash-bang-boom! the bottle bursts, sparing to a certain extent your brain plate. Turns out, empty bottles are a full 1/3 more sturdy than full.
Probably I should have guessed this. Early makers of still wine in the chilly Champagne region of France were often faced with exploding wine bottles whenever the wine would begin an accidental secondary fermentation in bottle (back when the glass bottles were thin shelled). The cellars were like mine fields. (More on exploding champagne!)
You can confirm the beer-bottle story if you happen to have the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Forensic and legal Medicine laying around the house. Or check out last Sunday's blurb in The New York Times Magazine.
No word yet on whether it's worse to be hit over the head with a graphite tennis racket or an empty beer bottle.