In case anyone is wondering (like I was) how fast modern CDROM drives spin a CD, a 52x speed drive is approx 27,500 rpms. Which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 miles per hour at the edge of the disc.
I found a very informative site that experiments with CDs and a 30,000 rpm Dremel (they have movie clips and everything).
Where he mentions the phenomenon of the data foil separaing from the surface was what I found most interesting.
Since my post, I took the drive out, and got a look inside.
Almost no data surface remains on any of the (former) disk surface. It looks that crack extended the width of the disk. The film of the data surface held the integrity of the failing disk, much in the way laminated glass holds a break complete shatter.
It would have broke at a lower RPM. But the film allowed it to get to full speed. Then the foil delaminated from the disk (and shredded into a billion glittery bits of data), and the flying broken disk bits (going very fast) traveled a whole 1/4 inch to the interior of the CD Rom box. And became even smaller bits of broken plastic.
There are dents in the metal.
Very cool. I would almost try this again on purpose.