If you've ever looked for ways to make plasma at home (and let's be honest, who is not it?) you will quickly encounter an interesting cooking experience involving one or more grapes. By placing two grapes or two grape halves next to each other in a microwave oven and then lighting them up, you will see a spark of lightning and a plasma heat up to white form themselves … but why?
A new research paper attempted to answer this burning question, and they managed to destroy a whole bunch of microwaves. Their work, detailed in a new document Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that grapes and microwaves have a rather weird relationship.
To better observe the phenomenon, the researchers had to modify their microwaves, install a camera and close the protective door. They fried many grapes as well as water soaked pearls in order to refine the mechanisms at work at the sparkling point of contact between the two objects.
"Many microwaves were actually injured during the experiments," said Hamza Khattak of Trent University, co-author of the study. Ars Technica. "At one point, we had a microwave cemetery in the lab before we had the first many iterations in e-waste."
Previously, the scientific community specializing in the field of DIY had assumed that the electric current merged the two grapes and formed a hot plasma in the center. In the end, this is not entirely correct and the researchers think they know what is really going on.
The team believes that microwaves actually collect microwave energy indoors due to their consistency. When two of them are allowed to touch the inside of the device, the result is a "hot spot" that forms at the point of contact. The grapes act as two condensed balls of intense microwave energy and when they touch the sparks and the plasma fly.