What happens when you microwave an egg will surprise you

A diner at a restaurant claimed that in addition to burns, his hearing had been damaged when he bit into a reheated, hard-boiled egg. A report on the research was presented at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday.

If you’ve ever used a microwave oven in your life, you probably know this already: Do not microwave an egg.

Of course, a quick search on YouTube will show that numerous individuals, perhaps with more curiosity than good sense, have gone ahead and done it anyway.

In one video, a man heats a peeled hard-boiled egg in the microwave. Removing it gingerly, he stations himself several feet away and reaches out with a fork. As the tines pierce it, the egg explodes like a tiny, protein-rich grenade. His friends shake with silent laughter as a dog moves in to lap up the quivering fragments.

Exploding eggs aren’t all fun and games, however — if one detonated in your mouth, you might not be laughing. In fact, a recent investigation into exactly how microwaved eggs go off, and the volume of the resulting boom, was set off by a lawsuit. A report on the research was presented at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday.

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A diner at a restaurant claimed that in addition to burns, his hearing had been damaged when he bit into a reheated, hard-boiled egg. Anthony Nash and Lauren von Blohn, acoustics experts at Charles M. Salter Associates, were engaged to look into whether the sound could be damaging.

And so began a long campaign of microwaving eggs, setting them under a microphone and giving them a prod. Nearly 100 eggs were sacrificed for the cause, and while most did nothing but lie there, about a third exploded gratifyingly (some also burst inside the microwave before getting to the microphone). Nash, who presented the research, said that at first they microwaved the eggs in a water bath, as the restaurant did, but very quickly realized they needed to change their method.

“After cleaning the microwave twice,” he said, “we decided to use an acoustically transparent container for the egg,” a nylon stocking that kept the egg from covering the microwave — or the carpet — with yolky shrapnel.

It soon became clear that the sound of the eggs going off, while loud, wasn’t particularly dangerous at a distance of a foot, ranging from 86 to 133 decibels. The exploding eggs were quieter,…

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