But not infallible. Science supports conventional chef wisdom when it comes to the optimal way to crack an egg without shattering the shell completely. There may be individual variations from cook to cook: Oyen personally favors a firm tap on a flat countertop. But it will always involve a single sharp smack — as opposed to a series of gentle taps, which are more likely to shatter the shell — against a hard surface or edge, targeting the center of the egg. For the one-handed technique, some chefs advise practicing with a golf ball until you get just the right feel for exactly how much pressure is required. No matter which technique you use, you should heed the advice of Sabrina's persnickety instructor: Be merciful. A fast, clean break is best.
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Ouellette writes the blog Cocktail Party Physics, and her most recent book is "The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive the Zombie Apocalypse." Find her on Twitter at @JenLucPiquant.