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Q & A: magnets, microwaves, and conductors

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Most recent answer: 12/21/2013
Q:
This is a weird question.. But let me explain what happened first... I have a hard like plastic bowl that is made to pop popcorn in the microwave and has worked great... However when I put it in the microwave it acts as if it has metal in it and the microwave goes crazy... Now the odd thing is that my magnetized cover for my IPad no longer work after only 3 weeks of use... Is I possible that if I placed the microwaved bowl on my IPad cover that the magnet would transfer to the bowl? It seem weird, and just may be a coincidence that I can no longer use my bowl in the microwave and I lost the magnatizim in my cover..... Just wondering... I sure this is a stupid question
- Helen (age 66)
Grand Junction, CO, USA
A:

That sounds like a very interesting question. It's probably a coincidence, but maybe not.

The plastic bowl sounds chemically modified, with bonds modified to dope it with charge carriers. This happened to the plastic in an air filter in my house, but that's a whole different long sad story. I don't know what caused the bowl modification, but I think it can happen from exposure to ozone or some other chemicals. Perhaps once it starts to happen, electrical discharges from exposing the conducting region to the microwaves could accelerate the process. (My electronic air filter turned into an intense, dangerous, ozone generator due to a process of that sort.)

The ipad cover could have been demagnetized by overheating. Could the hot bowl have been set down on or near the cover? Otherwise, I don't see how that would be connected with the plastic, unless somehow both were exposed to some sort of shared trauma.  Could your house have been hit by lightning? 

Mike W.


(published on 12/21/2013)

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