The mystery of the glorious fireball emitted by microwaved grapes (featured in my novel Little Brother) has been resolved, thanks to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which Trent University researchers Hamza Khattak and Aaron Slepkov explain how they destroyed a dozen microwaves before figuring out that the grapes were just the right size and had enough humidity to set up standing waves that amplify the microwaves -- and anything roughly grape-sized will do the same.
The paper is offline at both PNAS and Sci-Hub, which is weird, but there's good coverage of it at Ars and Wired.
"Previous explanations leaned on the idea that the grape was acting as an antenna and that an electrical current was being generated across the 'skin bridge' holding the two halves to a grape together," said co-author Pablo Bianucci of Concordia University in Montreal, who did the computer simulations for the study. It's that current, conventional wisdom goes, that generates the plasma.
These new experiments show that's not quite right. The skin bridge isn't necessary for the effect to occur.
Rather, "Our interpretation is that the plasma is generated by an electromagnetic 'hot spot' that is a purely (microwave) bulk effect," said Bianucci. "The grapes have the right refractive index and size to 'trap' microwaves, and putting two of them close together leads to the generation of this hot spot between them."
The Bank of England has unveiled its new £50 notes, which had been earmarked to honour a distinguished British scientist, and which will feature Alan Turing, the WWII hero who discovered many of the foundational insights to both modern computing and cryptography, and whose work with the codebreakers of Bletchley Park are widely believed to […]
The great science purge, they’ll call it one day. Donald Trump is closing science offices throughout the federal government. ‘As of June, around 85 percent of all scientific posts in the federal government, including an official scientific advisor to the President, were left unfilled,’ write the editors of I F***ing Love Science blog in an […]
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist, created Show Your Stripes as a way to easily visualize the past century's climate change: give it a location and it will render a series of stripes representing a century's worth of average annual temperatures (above: global average temperature); as Kottke notes: "The warming patterns for particular regions are not […]
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Whether you’re using them for next-level selfies or steady tracking shots, gimbals are a must for anyone who wants to maximize the potential of these powerful smartphone cameras we’re all carrying around. But those smartphones are also supposed to be portable, and let’s face it: Gimbals tend to offset that advantage. Weighing in at just […]
It’s too hot for yard sales, but hey: The internet is here for you. Here are the top ten deals on some of the Boing Boing Store’s best gear, just in time for summer. It’s everything from grills to security cameras to MacBook Pros, and they might be as low as they’re ever going to […]