A darkish and stormy chew: can a microwave destroy your nuts? – The take away
Photo: Bob Olsen / Toronto Star (Getty Images), Graphic: Karl Gustafson (Getty Images)
Welcome, foolish mortals, to the home of casseroles, bloodless food, and snack-related sagas so strange and frightening that they can take you into an unknown realm. Welcome, readers, too A dark and stormy bite, a monthly column that delves deep into a chattering culinary dimension of utterly creepy proportions. Basically, when it comes to food and rumble at night, we will cover it here. Do you have a favorite haunted restaurant or a cursed recipe? Send an email to email@example.com – and be careful.
Warning to Readers: This is going to be a little gross, so if you don’t want to hear a little about human and animal bodily harm, see you next month.
All week long, our staunch writers have been celebrating the secrets and wonders of the microwave at the opening of The Takeoutout Microwave week. But while you myopic daywalkers enjoyed it hot corn, Office salads, and chilaquiles, I wandered through the realm of the macabre, wrapped in a thick velvet coat, pretended my apartment was the cellar of a cursed opera house, and examined the most forbidden questions: Can a microwave explode your nut bag?
My search was inspired by Urban Legend, the 1998 horror film made by Jared Leto somehow doesn’t remember having done. I saw it a few weeks ago while working in the lab late at night (that is, I ate Garden Salsa SunChips on my couch) and my eyes got a scary sight: during one scene the killer explodes a victim’s dog in a frathouse microwave. I watch a lot of horror movies, but I think microwave animals are the most disturbing horror movie plot device of all time – probably because of its resemblance to some extremely gruesome true events. (I won’t be linking to it here. If you want more information, you can search for it yourself.)
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Still, the scene got me thinking. It reminded me of the legend of the microwave worker what Snopes explains:
“An unfortunate worker installed a component and some accident caused the scanner to turn on. His body was found fully cooked. Other family members embellished themselves by reporting hearing the guy supposedly smelling delicious, which resulted in many of the staff either screwing up or becoming vegetarians. “
My question was, could a microwave, hypothetically, burn, maim, or explode a human appendage if the above appendage is outside of the microwave? If you’re standing near a microwave – say, at step height – could some terrible malfunction cause the heat and radiation to escape from the microwave and scorch your genitals, potentially popping your eggs like a pair of frozen Costco cream puffs? Personal Injury Lawyers and holistic “health” bloggers all promote that health benefits of microwave-free living, with reference to incidents of testicular injury as evidence. And while the actual gonadal explosion seems far-fetched, I asked myself: why are people afraid of microwaves and what does nuts have to do with it?
To find out, I turned to them first US Atomic Energy Agency (NRC), hoping to explain the effects of microwave radiation. It turned out that the NRC doesn’t deal with microwaves (or testicles). Instead, NRC representative Victor Dricks referred me to Harvard University, the home of a respected radiation protection program. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from Harvard, probably because they don’t want to talk to a food blogger about genitals. And that’s fair.
Unable to connect with a radiation expert, I turned to a number of Nusssack experts. In the first place was the family doctor Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy, who explained that microwaves use radiation to heat your food – but it is Non-ionizing radiation, which is also found in radio waves and (with the exception of UV light) is not known to be carcinogenic. “Heating the food with a microwave transmits the [radiation], not that it is carcinogenic because it isn’t, ”Tripathy told me via email. “The molecules vibrate at high speed, which makes the food hot.” However, all the heat could, hypothetically, take its toll if you’ve configured your microwave to operate with the door open. “Your eyes and testicles are especially prone to this because [they have] little blood flow to dissipate all the heat, ”wrote Tripathy.
The doctor Dr. Lizz Kinyua continued, “Non-ionizing radiation means [the microwave] doesn’t have the ability to remove electrons from an atom, ”said Kinyua. “[Microwaves] work by creating an electric field in the oven that aligns the food particles such as amino acids and water molecules. As they align, they begin to swing around their own axis, producing heat and energy and making the food warm. ”
It’s getting wild here. Kinyua stated that the microwave produces approximately five milliwatts of non-ionizing radiation per square centimeter (5 mW / cm²) when heated. Most of this non-ionizing radiation is contained in the microwave. “However, a leak-proof system is not always guaranteed,” says Kinyua. “Some microwaves are malfunctioning, which could lead to emission leaks.” Since you may not be able to spot an emission leak immediately, Kinyua recommends that you keep family gems at least two inches away from your microwave while it is operating.
How does this non-ionizing radiation stay in the microwave despite leaks? The microbiologist Alex Berezov informed me. “This grid in the window of the microwave acts like a Faraday cage – that is, it keeps all microwaves in the oven,” explains Berezow that a Faraday cage is a housing that essentially blocks electromagnetic radiation. “If this strainer is ever damaged or torn, the microwave could injure you because the microwave is no longer locked in the oven.”
Okay, but how much radiation would it take to really do a number on the old snow globes? To find out, I carried out a radiation risk analysis on one of them Encyclopedic Microwave Blogwhich explains that you would only feel heat when the emission reaches a value of 30 mW / cm2. As a reminder, microwaves produce about five milliwatts of non-ionizing radiation per square centimeter, which is … less than 30. Hypothetically speaking, if your eyes were exposed to 100 mW / cm2 you could develop cataracts, but you wouldn’t start to boil until the emissions hit 5000 mW / cm2. All of this means that in order to suffer real physical harm you must have an insanely powerful microwave as a result of, for example, villainous manipulation. Or a very practical mind.
But while it’s almost impossible to turn this thing high enough to destroy your Rocky Mountain oysters, there are actually some detrimental effects from improper use of microwaves. “Microwaves non-thermally polarize food molecules that can generate carcinogenic radicals,” says Kinyua. “In combination with body enzymes, it can disrupt body functions and lead to the formation of oxygen radicals that cause cancer.”
According to Kinyua, it would take up to 10 years of frequent exposure to see these types of effects, but – BUT! – you’d probably see them in areas that Kinyua calls most prone to radiation damage due to their high radiation absorption. ”And guess what’s at the top of the list, just below Cartilage, Skeleton and Lymphatic System? Your pelvic organs, baby.
“Daily radiation and heat exposure” leads to a decreased sperm count and distorts sperm morphology, ”Kinyua told me, adding that the radiation can hypothetically affect female hormones as well, leading to ovarian and testicular cancer. If that sounds far-fetched, feel free to check it out Studies like thiswho studied the effects of non-ionizing radiation on rat testicular tissue. Spoiler: It wasn’t good.
So can you just break your guts by standing next to your microwave? No I do not think so. However, you can suffer some adverse health effects as noted above. Fortunately, as long as you act like a normal person and avoid pressing your crotch against your microwave four times a day, you are probably fine. But if you have any incident of hideous, monstrous, macabre microwave chaos, you know where to find me.