Man, I wish someone told me this in the days of free AOL trial CDs.

It seems that putting an ordinary Compact Disc into your average microwave creates freaky lightning and a dramatic fiery demise.

Although you might expect them simply to burn up like an iPhone does, these data storage discs actually provide a kick-ass light show first.

This little known scientific gem was beautifully photographed and uploaded to Twitter, which then led to the discovery of a YouTube video documenting microwaved CDs.  So please don’t kill your microwave or yourself trying this – just check out these videos and pictures instead.

Here are the photos as released on Twitter in Japanese with the message: “Nuking a CD in the microwave makes some sick stuff happen.”

It’s common sense not to put metal into the microwave. However, that’s not always as bad as you might think. Metal itself isn’t dangerous as much as the shape the metal is in.

A microwave cooks by emitting electromagnetic radiation inside the box.  This radiation reacts with food molecules (mostly the water ones) and makes them spin around really fast.

Much like you would if you spun around really fast, the molecules get hot and your food is cooked.

With metal it will also heat up under the microwaves. However, if it happens to be in a shape which makes it generate its own field like an antenna, then you’re likely to see sparks fly.

For example, putting a highly crumpled piece of aluminum foil in might spark it up, but a completely flat piece of aluminum foil would most likely not.

In the case of a CD, the metal foil encased in plastic is much thinner than cooking foil and acts somewhat like an antenna.  The electrons build up extremely quickly and are released in green sparks as seen above and in this video.

These sparks are made up of a substance called plasma, which is ionized air. When the CD heats the air it becomes ionized and allows the electrons to escape in a pretty (but dangerous!) light show.

Fire can also be made of plasma when hot enough.  Here’s what happens when open flames put into a microwave – something else you should never do.

While it’s entertaining to watch on a screen, doing this at home will definitely destroy whatever you’re nuking, probably brick your microwave, and possibly kill you by fire or noxious fumes that come from burning random materials.

So allow me to kick that dead horse one more time and say: Give a hoot! Don’t put stuff like metallic objects fashioned in such a way that they generate electromagnetic fields and emit heated electrical energy into the air!

Source: Twitter via Byokan Sunday (Japanese)
Video: Minoru Makino, Alex Craig