It is delightful to have my masters degree in Mechanical Engineering put to use in resolving age old engineering problems.
(Not photographed: Her feet)
One can never know the exact shape or size of the slippers that Cinderella wore, but one can hazard a guess that they must have looked something like this:
Now, one possible way the slippers could break is by yielding to the compressive stress arising due to Cinderella's weight. But will that happen?
We can safely assume that Cindy didn't weigh more than than 50 kgs. I mean, her cousins were fat and ugly, so we have to leave them some room on the top, right? Let's assume this weight to be applied uniformly across the shoe. Note that the toe region of a heeled shoe bears almost thrice as much force as the heel region, but it won't matter for our purposes.
If 50 kgs of weight were to be applied uniformly across this area, the compressive stress developed in the material would be
The Yield strength of ordinary glass for compressive stress is approximately , which is three orders of magnitude more than what Cinderella's weight can produce, so we can safely conclude that any regular glass can sustain it. Since the stress is so low, we don't even need to worry about the uneven loading on the shoe.
So, is she safe now? Can she safely dance at the ball without fear of tiny shards of glass cutting her skin and ruining her dress?
Not so soon, buddy!
There's another way her shoe could break, and this is due to the compressive stress due to the bending moment applied to her heel every time she walks.
Now, I don't want to be here all day, and I don't want to model her shoe in ANSYS, so I will make a few simplifying assumptions. Let her heel have a diameter . and have length from the tip to the point where it joins the rest of the shoe. The heel can now be modeled as a simple cantilever beam of circular cross section.
Safety glass (thermal toughened glass) seems to be a good bet. It has a yield strength of about and a higher Young's Modulus too (http://www.matbase.com/m
But what happens when she starts running out of the castle at midnight approaches?
When Cinderella runs, I expect the impact force to be three to five times that of the regular walking force (this is somewhat supported by the paper
Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running,
We must also take into consideration the fact that Cinderella's dress would probably not let her take long strides. This would mean that her stepping angle would remain within safe limits, further ensuring that her shoes don't break.
Most importantly, she would be well-advised to develop a toe-first foot strike, which would totally solve the problem. This cannot be maintained for large distances, but would certainly take Cinderella out of the danger zone.
What if the friction between her shoes and the ground/floor is so low that she slips? Well, we can assume that the flooring is either made of stone or is carpeted. The coefficient of friction for Glass on Stone is about 0.42, which is not very high, but is high enough for her to not slip. I couldn't get a value for the coefficient for glass on carpet, but I imagine it to be similar.
(I am well aware that Cinderella's shoes were most likely made of fur and that the glass in the story is mostly a result of mistranslation. I am also sure, though, that this is a rather lousy reason to not attempt an answer.)More questions on Fairy Tales: