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."
Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, explains the concept of a “dimensions” at five different levels of complexity. Dr. Carroll sure has a big brane.
In 1936, the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was declared to be extinct. Yet in the last three years, there have been eight reported sightings according to Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. I hope it’s true. From CNN: While stories abound that some continue to live in the remote wilds of Tasmania, […]
Who doesn’t love a free meal? From Nautilus Live: During the final dive of this year’s Nautilus expedition season, our team discovered a whale fall while exploring Davidson Seamount off central California’s coast with researchers from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The skeletal remains of the whale lying on its back are estimated to be […]
We have a theory about those throw blankets that are barely big enough to cover your legs. The only people who seem to make them or use them are grandmothers, and the blankets are only that small because Nana got bored halfway through the sewing job. Look, we’re sure she means well. But if you […]
Remember when the default state of your online presence was anonymity? That’s not so clear-cut anymore, and the worst part is you may not even know who is using your data or what they’re using it for. Small wonder that so many people are choosing to surf through virtual private networks. VPNs filter web access […]
Get ready for the stream of your dreams, binge-watchers. There’s a contest afoot, and at stake is a lifetime subscription to Netflix. All you have to do is sign up, and you’re entered to win this ultimate Netflix plan. When does it expire? Only when you do. And hey, just in case you need something […]