## Tuesday, 6 July 2010

### An egg in space - or an egg in a vacuum - what would happen?

This is a question that has been bugging us at work.

What would happen to a chicken egg in space? Equally interesting is the question what would happen to a chicken egg if placed in a vacuum chamber?

Eggshells are able to withstand quite large forces from the outside because of their dome structure, but are not so strong from the inside. This makes sense - they need to be strong enough to withstand the force of the mother chook sitting on them, but need to be fragile enough from the inside for the baby chick to escape. If placed into a vacuum, would the pressure of the small amount of air inside the egg be enough to break the shell? Let's assume for the sake of argument that the egg was laid at normal atmospheric pressure.

Other things to consider include temperature. Would the egg white and egg yolk freeze and therefore expand? This could break the shell. Is there enough empty space inside the egg into which the mainly water interior could expand? Or would this happen too suddenly? Is temperature actually a factor?

Or perhaps a sudden change in pressure might cause the interior to rapidly boil, exploding the egg? Water only boils at 100 degrees at normal atmospheric pressure - the more you lower the pressure, the lower the temperature that water boils at. For instance, at the top of Mount Everest, the boiling point of water is 69 degrees. Human blood would boil in space except for the fact that our skin is strong enough to protect our blood from the rapid drop in pressure. Is an eggshell similarly strong, or is it too permeable?

Is there a difference between the scenario where the egg is in space - let's say at about the Earth's orbit - and so is heated by the Sun (or at least half of it), and in a vacuum chamber where there is no heat source?

As much as we like to ponder these questions, we don't have an answer. What do you think? Please feel free to speculate and throw ideas into the mix.

For extra reading, check out the references for work conducted on hatching chickens in low gravity, and also hypergravity.

References:
SUDA, T., ABE, E., SHINKI, T., KATAGIRI, T., YAMAGUCHI, A., YOKOSE, S., YOSHIKI, S., HORIKAWA, H., COHEN, G., & YASUGI, S. (1994). The role of gravity in chick embryogenesis FEBS Letters, 340 (1-2), 34-38 DOI: 10.1016/0014-5793(94)80168-1

Jones SM, Warren LE, Shukla R, Browning A, Fuller CA, & Jones TA (2000). The effects of hypergravity and substrate vibration on vestibular function in developing chickens. Journal of gravitational physiology : a journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology, 7 (3), 31-44 PMID: 12124183

1. So an egg can stand pressure from outside pushing in, is this the opposite of what you'd get in a vacuum? I'd expect a vacuum to exert a sucking pressure pulling all sides of the egg outwards.

My guess, omlette.

2. Eggs generally don't explode when you boil them (when you think the high temp might expand the air pocket inside). In saying this, if you put an egg into a microwave, it makes a very gooey mess!

It might depend how quickly the pressure changed. I think there's a fair degree of permeability through the shell. We have chooks and our older chook lays thinner egg shells too so shell thickness might be a factor too.

My question is what is the egg doing in space (or a vacuum) in the first place. I did see pea soup put in a vacuum on Masterchef last night (apparently to remove the air in the soup) and that looked impressive. Perhaps you can ask the chef from last night to put an egg into his machine...

3. David BofingerMay 01, 2011 8:55 pm

I don't know much about eggs, you should ask a biologist. Here's a guess:

Air leaks in and out through the egg, but only slowly. I don't know if water does.

If the egg is suddenly put in a vacuum or if water can't get out then the egg breaks open, goopy stuff leaks everywhere, the chicken if any dies, the liquids boil away.

If the pressure is reduced slowly and water can get out - and I don't know how long that would take, maybe hours or days? - the internal vacua of the egg rupture, the chicken if any dies, the liquids boil away, the egg is left dry and lifeless.
None of this is much fun, especially for the egg. There's no good way for this to end.

4. From a colleague:

"I don't know much about eggs, you should ask a biologist. Here's a guess: Air leaks in and out through the egg, but only slowly. I don't know if water does. If the egg is suddenly put in a vacuum or if water can't get out then the egg breaks open, goopy stuff leaks everywhere, the chicken if any dies, the liquids boil away.

If the pressure is reduced slowly and water can get out - and I don't know how long that would take, maybe hours or days? - the internal vacua of the egg rupture, the chicken if any dies, the liquids boil away, the egg is left dry and lifeless. None of this is much fun, especially for the egg. There's no good way for this to end."

5. Thank you Mr Science for bringing this pressing national security issue to the public's attention. For too long the threat of chickens dropping eggs on us from space has been denied its due consideration as a genuine menace to the security of our peace-loving, but somewhat blinkered nation.

As a specialist Defence Chickenologist, I have been monitoring the global arms race in chickens. Third world nations were quick to recognise the equivalence of chickens and fighter jets and have been active in the chicken/fighter sphere for many years (read our Minister for Defence's statement on the topic here: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/gregCombetSpeechtpl.cfm?CurrentId=10522).

Our former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd was keenly aware of the issue, although he tended to focus on the defence implications of Chinese chickens and the stragic threat they posted to first wrld countries (see http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/1044339/rudd-ups-civilian-effort-in-afghanistan).

It was a sad day for both Australia and Defence Chickenology when the fowl Julia Gillard stole, yes, stole the highest office in the land. Ms Gillard's ascension to the Prime Minister's Office has set the defence chicken movement back decades. She has turned the whole debate into a farce (see for example: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/05/2944534.htm?section=features).

I look forward to your next post on this critical topic.

6. My first thought was that something would happen, but nothing too exciting or explosive. People don't really explode in space, after all! We and the egg are used to one atmosphere, and we can withstand several atmospheres (as in deep sea diving) without injury if you're careful. By contrast, you can't have negative pressure, only lower pressure - down to zero. An egg in a vacuum has one less atmosphere of pressure on it than it usually would, and I don't think the pressure inside is so great as to make it explode.

The pressure might not make as much difference here as it would for water, say; at high altitudes on Earth, it can apparently take longer to cook eggs - possibly because the boiling water is at a lower temperature. So my guess is that in space, the white and yolk would probably freeze, and even on Earth this cracks the shell. I don't think the egg will become the egg equivalent of steam; it's made of complex proteins and won't behave the same way as a simple, pure substance like water.

The other variable is that while the inside may have less strength than the outside, a chick using its egg tooth or beak to peck a hole by applying force at a single point isn't the same as equal force on the entire shell. Probably the force wouldn't be uniform, though, since the distribution of yolk and white inside isn't uniform either.

So, to sum up all my musings and lunchtime Google research: I think the egg would freeze and the shell would crack, but I don't think it would explode.

7. perfect sphere ;-)

8. I wonder what would happen if you took an egg in the vacuum of space, empty it via a tiny hole, and somehow perfectly seal the hole. If you were to take it back to earth, would it shoot up on its own or would it implode?

9. Nice platform Visit website!

10. A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.  https://thetopcleaner.com/

11. Thank you very much for keep this information.
long hair vacuum

12. It was really insightful.
Thanks for the info.
Wanna have more contents from you.
Cheers
BTW if anyone interested more have a look view More thanks

13. It was really insightful.
Thanks for such a nice content.
Cheers
BTW if anyone interested more have a look besttoolsbrand thanks

14. It was really insightful.
Thanks for such a nice content.
Cheers
BTW if anyone interested more have a look besttoolsbrand thanks

15. Great post for those who are interested in this sphere all necessary information is well-explained.
biosafety cabinet

16. What a wonderful cover art best budget robot vacuum

17. Great Post, All the points you have mentioned, are really useful. Especially about reading anything and everything. Reading is the best way to improve writing skills.
membrane filters

18. This comment has been removed by the author.

19. It was really insightful.
Thanks for such a nice content.
Cheers
BTW if anyone interested more have a look besttoolsbrand thanks

20. Thanks for this informative blog about fashion. This was thought out and put together. Lots blogs talk about nothing exist on the net.
pest control Delhi
home cleaning services in Delhi

21. What a great post! I enjoy reading each words of your article. Thank you incredibly substantially for your exciting text. Two thumbs up.
Best Hospital in Somajiguda

22. What a great post! I enjoy reading each words of your article. Thank you incredibly substantially for your exciting text. Best Fertility Specialist In Hyderabad

23. Metal expansion joints are a concertinaed in-line junction piece included in many liquid and high-pressure gas pipeline systems for a variety of reasons. Vacuum Valves

24. You have done a great job. Vacuums

25. Very interesting information a lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one.
New Zealand student visa
New Zealand skilled worker

26. Hence, it is ideal to either look at engine input power in watts of the two machines or on the off chance that you need to contrast a machine appraised in watts and one evaluated in amps,dyson

27. Great Information sharing .. I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post. tarpon fly fish

28. Awesome! No words. You always go one step beyond.

There is so much great, useful information here. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Read our guide if you wish.
besttoolsbrand

Thanks again :)

29. Recently I have been graduated from the university. So I know for sure how it is to cope with all tasks tutors ask you to do. During my studying at the first course, I prepared all my works including essays and papers by myself, which I rewrote each time and made some remarks, but later I found one blog where the girl recommend one site where you can easily buy pre written research papers and from that moment my life became easier and till the last course that site was for me quite a little bit helpful

30. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. footcare drill equipment

31. Comparing machines rated in amps with those rated in watts is not an exact comparison because manufacturers that are using watt ratings typically rate the motor only while amperage ratings use the total electrical consumption of the vacuum cleaner including the motor in the power nozzle (the motorized revolving brush cleaning head), light bulb, etc. vacuum supplies

32. The reason they are so commonly used is that vacuum sealers dramatically extend the shelf life of food. Vacuum Sealer

33. It is a great website.. The Design looks very good.. Keep working like that!. BELL TEST

34. This particular is usually apparently essential and moreover outstanding truth along with for sure fair-minded and moreover admittedly useful My business is looking to find in advance designed for this specific useful stuffs… commercial grade vacuum sealer

35. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. podiatry vacuum drill

36. These primary specifications include watts, amps, volts, water lift (or sealed suction), horsepower, air watts, and airflow. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1293204 handled vacuum cleaner

37. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article... best shark vacuum for vinyl plank floors

38. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. read more

39. Wow what a Great Information about World Day its exceptionally pleasant educational post. a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. best cordless vacuum shark

40. Here are a few things you have to investigate when you're chasing for the ideal mechanical vacuum cleaner. best handheld vacuum for stairs and pet hair

41. If you are using vacuum cleaners then I must suggest you to visit cleaning services Ajax and hire all professional cleaners just at a cheap and reasonable cost. Also they try to provide the best cleaning services for our house as well our office and working spaces.

42. Glad to see this brilliant post and all the details are awesome in this post.
lateral flow membrane
vtm kits

43. Wow, quel excellent message. J'ai vraiment trouvÃ© cela trÃ¨s instructif. C'est ce que je cherchais. Je voudrais vous suggÃ©rer de continuer Ã  partager ce type d'informations. mangeoires automatiques pour koÃ¯

44. The information which you have provided is very good and essential for everyone. Keep sharing this kind of information. Thank you.Dyson V6 replacement Spare parts online

45. Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks best vacuum sealer

46. To know more about Chief Dr Lucky you can visit his website (https://chiefdrluckyherbaltherapy.wordpress.com/)

A friend that suffered from Herpes and was cure with the help of this great herbal doctor Chief Lucky so i decided to contact him for help in getting rid of my families genital herpes virus 1/2 which i did and all i was told to provide was just some useful information and some materials used in preparation of the natural cure and that i did and now i am the happiest person on earth because i am writing this testimony of mine with joy and happiness in my heart to the whole world to know that natural remedy is real because i am a living testimony of Chief Lucky traditional herbal cure and i want you all to contact Chief Lucky via his email: chiefdrlucky@gmail.com or WhatsApp him +2348132777335 am sure he will help you too.

47. There are several dissertation online websites online live pick-up not surprisingly acknowledged inside internet sites. Carpet Cleaning London

48. As the perfect assessment is actually engine enter energy within w associated with Item The when compared with engine enter energy within w associated with Item W, a few producers don't supply engine enter energy specs as w but rather price the whole vacuum within amps. This particular makes it difficult in order to evaluate throughout manufacturers.How to Choose Robot Vacuum

49. Great job for publishing such a nice article. Your article isn’t only useful but it is additionally really informative. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. Read more info about food vacuum sealer