The potentiality of employing nonlinear vibrations as a method for the detection of osteoporosis in human bones is assessed. We show that if the boundary conditions (BC), relative to the connection of the specimen to its surroundings, are not taken into account, the method is apparently unable to differentiate between defects (whose detection is the purpose of the method) and nonrelevant features (related to the boundary conditions). A simple nonlinear vibration experiment is described which employs piezoelectric transducers (PZT) and two idealized long bones in the form of nominally-identical drinking glasses, one intact, but in friction contact with a support, and the second cracked, but freely-suspended in air. The nonlinear dynamics of these specimens is described by the Duffing oscillator model. The nonlinear parameters recovered from vibration data coupled to the linear phenomena of mode splitting and shifting of resonance frequencies, show that, despite the similar soft spring behavior of the two dynamic systems, a crack is distinguishable from a contact friction BC. The frequency response of the intact glass with contact friction BC is modeled using a direct steady state finite element simulation with contact friction.

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