Plasma is amazing. It's hanging out in invisible tubes in the inner layers of the magnetosphere surrounding Earth, it pours down on the surface of the Sun in colossal rainstorms, and if Boeing ever gets its way, a plasma force field will one day protect military vehicles from nearby explosions. We're talking plasma on a gigantic scale - things you will probably never see with your own eyes. But that's where TheBackyardScientist comes in, because he wants to bring plasma back to the people with this video showing you how to make your very own ionised gas. (Please don't though.)
At the centre of all this at-home plasma generation is a simple microwave oven transformer. Just like a solid or a liquid, plasma is a state of matter with its own unique set of properties, and it can be produced by applying a lot of energy to a gas. You can use electromagnetic energy to achieve this, or electrical energy, which is given off by the transformer.
When you watch the video, you'll see the transformer produce an extremely powerful arc of electricity that kinda looks like fire. "But it's hiding a cool secret we cant see with our own eyes," says TheBackyardScientist. "At 10x slow motion we begin to see a flickering light, this is caused by the AC or alternating current that comes out of electrical outlets. The alternating current reverses direction 60 times per second, which causes the flicker. The blue light in the centre is the electrical arc, it's so hot it's turning the surrounding air into plasma."
You know what's cooler? Making plasma by putting a grape in the microwave. You can use any type of grape for this, just cut the bottom off and slice the rest of the grape down the middle, but not all the way so the two halves are still attached. Take the rotating plate out of the microwave, pop the grape in, and cover it with a cup. The results are awesome, especially when TheBackyardScientist slows the footage down 1,000 times so you can see what's going on.
He leaves us with the rather grotesque results of electrocuting a grape. Farewell, sweet grape. You did it for science.