Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Death Ray

some time ago we bought a cheap microwave oven, something in the less than $100 range.

I'm used to microwave ovens destroying food when trying to defrost frozen things. You know, the usual problems like:

* set to high when you meant defrost
* the thin bits being cooked when the thick bits are still frozen

stuff like that.

But this oven is like some cross breed between a narrow beam communications device and a military weapon.

Seriously, I'm not exaggerating!

I have been restricting its use to only liquids where convection of the liquids will even things out.

Well today my wife tried to melt some butter in the reactor ... and well ... this is what happened.

She heard "something funny" and looked in to see eruptions of molten butter being ejected out from the core of the 500g slab of butter and splashing over the interior of the micro wave ROOF.

For Gods sake the thing was set on its lowest setting!

Now ... I know that a microwave works by heating the water, as the energy beam penetrates the item the water absorbs it and it eventually looses enough of its strength that it no longer heats stuff. Since the exterior can cool by loosing the heat in a few ways, the stuff inside is effectively insulated by the food around and get hotter. This leads to the view that microwaves heat from the inside.

Which isn't strictly true ... but in this case you can see that heat ray has heated the core really fast and not only liquefied it, but started to boil it. The small amount of steam pressure popped back the small dome like a trap door and then molten butter began to boil up out of slab of butter, propelled 10cm high to splatter off the roof of the microwave oven by the steam pressure.

So I have dubbed our "reactor" the death ray like the savage unearthly heat ray used by the Martians in
War of the Worlds

It has regularly drilled holes in my chicken fillets and you should see the crater it leaves in a bowl of oats if "cooked" in the microwave!

1 comment:

Noons said...


You reminded me of George Goble's barbecue lighting:
Watch the video of the 2 second barbecue lighting.

If that is not one of the Internet's defining historical moments, I don't know what is!

There used to be a site with all sorts of science pranks and weird things, that's where I learned about cds in the microwave and the death ray m/w (of which yours is a commercial example!).

I'll see if I can find a link somewhere.