(Wait until you're at a party.)
Buy a large Peppermint Pattie (I believe that's a trademarked name, and I may have spelled it wrong). Unwrap it, put it on a plate, put the plate in the microwave. Run on high power until you decide that the alien has satisfactorily hatched.
Using a whiteboard marker (if you use a Sharpie (and that is a trademark) indelible marker, you'll have to get whiteboard cleaner or 99% isopropyl alcohol at the drugstore to get it off), draw Start and Finish lines on the bottom of your microwave. Wipe the thinnest possible coating of extra-virgin olive oil (nothing but the best! ...well, okay, anything that isn't actually rancid will do) on the floor of the oven, or spray on a coat of one of those wretched aerosol things. Pull grapes off their stems, label with "jockey's" initials, and place at starting line. The rest is history.
(I have no least notion whether that's a trademark.) Using a Sharpie (see above) or other marker, draw faces on some marshmallows. (Fangs are optional.) Place the marshmallows on a plate, put the plate in your microwave, and run at 50% (HALF) power for a couple-three minutes, or until you run out of patience or it stops being funny. (Some of us are more easily amused than others.)
(This is how you clean up after all the others.)
Find a bar of soap that contains a lot of air. I
like Irish Spring (trademark) or Ivory (also a trademark).
Put the soap on a plate,
put the plate in the microwave, and run at full power
for a few minutes. (As I said, very easy to clean up.)
I suggest that you find a way to turn off the light
in your microwave before you try the next few items.
(Turn off the room lights, too.)
I'm going to leave this one to an expert.
Andy McFadden's excellent FAQ about recordable CD's is the right place to go for the info. (If this link is broken, search him out on the Web.) See Section 7-8. For that matter, Section 7-9 is pretty good, too. Andy tells me that experts have assured him that the stench emitted by this particular game is not poisonous, but it sure is unpleasant. If you do this, you had better be prepared to clean out your oven thoroughly afterward. You Have Been Warned. (In case you were wondering, btw, yes. It works just fine with regular CDs.)
Cut a grape almost in half. Carefully separate the halves, leaving a bridge of grapeskin between them. Set this assembly cut-face down on a plate, and put it in the microwave. Power up. For a marvellous exposition, see Patrick R. Michaud's Case Study.
Acquire some fine or ultrafine steel wool. Tear off a small hunk, put it on the plate, and run it at high power for a few seconds. I actually like this better than I like CDs. It hardly stinks at all, at least in comparison.
(This is the only one of these little exercises that I can actually claim to have invented. The rest I got from friends.) Take a candle stub an inch or two long, or a votive. Light it. Put it in the microwave. Turn the oven on at full power for NO MORE THAN FIVE SECONDS. (I worry that this might damage the oven, if prolonged...)
The first time I tried this one I set the oven for three seconds, and for about 2.9 of them I thought nothing was going to happen. I was, uhh, wrong.
Note: Friends report to me that this didn't work in their oven, which is rather old. It may require a certain minimum power density.
(22 February, 2001; contributed by Allen Vaughan, whom I quote here.)
"Was inspired by your page, dug out an old microwave from storage and tried numerous items. So far the most interesting light show I have seen was produced by placing old vacuum tubes in it. They created a nice vibrant, multicolor light show lasting 10 to 30 seconds. I suppose any type will work with varied effects. The ones I happened to have lying around collecting dust were GE 12DQ6B tubes from an old RF amplifier; these are 7 pin, 1.5" x 4" tubes. Once the light show is over the tubes are rather hot, and the glass cracked every time, so use proper precautions when you handle them.
"A common source for tubes to try would be old televisons. Do not ever reach into a television set unless you know what you are doing when it comes to high voltage electronics, as stored voltage that can easily kill you is often present, even after the set has long been unplugged."
(I suspect that only people with serious heart trouble are actually in mortal danger, but Allen is absolutely right about stored voltage persisting, sometimes for an astonishingly long time. -- jon)
"Just ask someone who works on old televisions for some and they will most likely have plenty lying around that they would give up for the asking. (This may be more true in some areas than others, but if you are persistent you will eventually find suitable tubes.)
"This is a much prettier though sometimes shorter show than the CD, or anything else I have tried for that matter.
"Old tubes also contain lead, selenium, nickel, strontium
and other nice stuff that may be hazardous to your health,
so don't do this in a microwave oven that you intend to
use for food, and be extremely careful about disposal."
"I keep the old microwave sitting here in this little
room. Got it loaded with a couple of circular
fluorescent tubes and one blue neon, with the timer set
for 10 seconds. It's right next to one of the chairs
people just happen to choose to sit in, so that I can
say, "Hey, man, I forgot about my food. Could you hit
that start button for me?". You should see how fast they
come up out of that chair when the blinding light comes
pouring out of the microwave. Of course, some of my
friends are already a little cautious around me to begin
with. I wonder why... LOL."
If you want to send email to Allen, he is
<nightrunner at mindspring dot com>.
"I keep the old microwave sitting here in this little room. Got it loaded with a couple of circular fluorescent tubes and one blue neon, with the timer set for 10 seconds. It's right next to one of the chairs people just happen to choose to sit in, so that I can say, "Hey, man, I forgot about my food. Could you hit that start button for me?". You should see how fast they come up out of that chair when the blinding light comes pouring out of the microwave. Of course, some of my friends are already a little cautious around me to begin with. I wonder why... LOL."
If you want to send email to Allen, he is <nightrunner at mindspring dot com>.
In the mid-1960s, there was a flood in Boulder, Colorado. As a result of this, a chap named Judd Johnson found himself in possession of a commercial microwave oven of great puissance, unfortunately full to the gills with mud. Blargh.
For those of you who are too young or fuddled to remember, in 1965 there were very few microwave ovens. In fact, in that era the only contact most of us had was seeing Mister Wizard cook a hot dog or something in one on the tube. (I actually watched a restaurateur do a lobster in 60 seconds, but I was a serendipitous kid.)
Be that as it may, here's Judd, with this ...thing... in his back yard. He took the hose to it, and washed it out as well as he could, and then he let it dry for a few days before he dragged it into his kitchen. If I am remembering his story correctly, the device had two power settings: 1900 watts, and 2650 watts. (To give you a point of comparison: my hot little Panasonic, purchased in 2001, puts out 1100 watts on a warm day with a slight tailwind.)
Judd was pleasantly surprised to discover that mud is nonfatal to magnetrons, and he commenced to make various uses of his oven. One morning he was about to leave for work, and he decided to cook an egg. I think he put it in a little bowl, set the oven on high, and gave it fifteen (15) seconds. Alas, as soon as he opened the door there was an earth-shattering KABOOM. He was an hour late to work that day because he had to clean his entire kitchen, put his clothes in the wash, and take a shower.
No mere egg was about to outsmart him, however. The next time he wanted an egg in the morning on his way to work he broke the egg into the bowl, set the oven on low, and gave it only 10 seconds.
This time it didn't go off until he stuck a fork into the yolk, which he had not broken and which was a lovely nanotechnological tensegrity sphere until he disrupted its tensegritudinous integrity. (PLORP!)
Let me issue formal advice on this one: don't. Especially don't if the door on your microwave doesn't have a latch. (See the next paragraph or two.)
I should note that I was reminded of this by a joyous little set of email I just received from "LeeAnna" (last name omitted by request, perhaps for fear of Parental Reprisals) in which she reports this fine use of the incredible no-longer-edible egg. (She may have come up with it herself, btw -- she doesn't know the illustrious Mr. Johnson, who has, needless to say, pre-scrambled all eggs that have entered his microwave since That Fateful Second Event...)
LeeAnna says in her report that it took her "2 minutes and 13 seconds to be exact", and that the eruption actually blew open the door of the oven. She also says her mom nearly killed her. To complete the picture, she casually mentions the fact that not all eggs are the same... (Bwa-ha-ha-ha. I bet her mom nearly killed her! Ahh, for the lost days of my reckless youth...)
Yours for the joyous exploration of the edges of the
JoJo Bazilian's Regrettably Destructive Egg-Bashing Service
Please, if you know any more of these little horrors, send them to me! I'm jon [at] bazilians [period] org, and I do not like the Internet equivalent of a particular tinned meat product that shall remain nameless, so I do not include a real mailto.