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Scientists make a rigorous study of why a grape spark in a microwave oven



Sparkling hydrogel balls due to microwave radiation
Photo: Khattak et al (PNAS)

An article published on Monday in a famous scientific journal begins with the following sentence: a pair of hemispheres of grapes exposed to intense microwave radiation, will ignite the plasma ". The generally accepted truth … but what causes this miracle miracle?

If you are not familiar, put the grapes in a microwave oven to make the sparkles a popular YouTube trick. This new study by Canadian scientists shows that worthy achievements can come from anywhere, even when learning something like stupid.

"This is a regime that has not been studied substantially before," said one of the authors of the article, Pablo Bunuchucci, from the Concordia University in Montreal, said Gizmodo. Typically, a trick shows two halves of the grapes, combined with a thin slice of the skin. A few seconds after they were microwave they start sparking. Although there are various explanations on the Internet, researchers wanted to study this phenomenon more rigorously.

The researcher portrayed both sliced ​​grapes and hydrogel beads, made of a material that absorbs a lot of water when they appear in a microwave oven. They quickly realized that the grape skin was not needed to get a spark, as evidenced by the sparkling in the hydrogel pellets, fixed only by weight and the shape of the dish in which they were sitting, according to a study published in the Laboratory of the National Academy of Sciences.

The specific geometry of two moving water-filled circular objects in an electromagnetic field creates resonances concentrated at the point where the spheres or half-fields intersect. It becomes a very small hot spot with a high energy density sufficient to generate plasma ions in the region where the objects touch. The editor of the newspaper, the professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, Katherine Murphy, of course, thought so. "The fact that they were harsh enough to go through the peer review process is an indication that they are doing a good job at the technical end," she said.

But this document is much more than a trick, Murphy said. This kind of directed energy research may find important use in other directed energy systems, such as explosives or high intensity lasers. In addition, the method of representing electric fields in such types of physical installations is presented in the work, and this can lead to further success in photonics as a whole.

Many bizarre things can bring useful scientific results if you apply rigorous thinking and conduct a well thought out experiment, as evidenced by this work. In addition, we realized that if you accidentally burnt your house in the form of microwave grapes, this is not my fault.


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