Cooking Popcorn with your Cell Phone

A friend forwarded to me an email with the following link:

POPCORN

My first impression was that this was a pretty kewl trick, and it would be great to be able to do this at parties.  But my second impression was that it seemed rather improbable, and a back-of-the-envelope calculation showed that the energy requirement for popping corn would drain a cell phone’s battery very quickly.

I determined that I would try to reproduce the experiment, and first did some research on the subject.  It didn’t take long to find this:

SNOPES

(Scroll to the bottom to find the part about popcorn.)

It didn’t look good for the popcorn experiment, but I was determined to try to reproduce the results regardless.   I set up four cell phones just like the video shows, called the phones and sat back to await results.

To no avail.

The corn stubbornly refused to pop.  It didn’t even get warm.   So much for my kewl party demonstration.

The most impressive part of this video email, though, is how readily people are willing to believe it just because it reinforces a pre-conceived idea.  The email I received contained these words:

This is enlightening!!!!  This is probably what it does to our brain power – like putting your head in a microwave.  Check this out! And we’re supposed to believe that cell phones are safe?

I am not qualified to determine whether cell phones are safe from radiation.  However, if they aren’t safe, then spreading a story that is so easily demonstrated to be a hoax will not help the situation.  All this email accomplished was to cause me to doubt the objectivity of the sender, coloring all future email correspondence from her concerning issues of public interest in a suspecious light.

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