Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Single Corn Popper 2

A variant of [DrCurry]'s device
  [vote for,

After thinking up this Idea, I looked to see if it was already posted, and something like it was (see link). However....

The focus of my version was not ONLY just to pop one kernel at a time, but to pop EVERY kernel. I'm pretty sure the main reason not all kernels pop is because of variations in the way they receive heat. That will not happen in a popper like this one!

Also, I disagree with [DrCurry]'s statement that it will take significant time to pop a single kernel. It depends only on how much energy the body of the kernel can quickly absorb. It was correctly pointed out in an annotation to that Idea that lasers would heat the outside of the kernel quickly, which could become scorched before significant heat reached the interior of the kernel, to cause water to convert to steam and thereby burst the hull and puff the kernel.

Nevertheless, while lasers are not the best way to apply energy, the overall idea of making the popper similar to an "inertial confinement nuclear fusion reactor" remains. Are you aware that in a production facility, such a reactor must cause several pellets of fuel PER SECOND to explode nuclearly, if it is to produce useful power? Obviously if we can pop corn kernels at a similar speed, production can keep up with the eating!

So, the popper requires a hopper, with a kind of "drip" dispenser that lets one kernel at a time fall into the "pop zone", where it gets blasted with energy. The appropriate devices to use, to blast it, are multiple "masers", not multiple lasers. Masers were actually invented several years before lasers; the acronym M.A.S.E.R. stands for "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". Lasers work on the same principle, except for amplifying light instead of microwaves, and were named after masers.

Next, microwaves are a lot bigger than corn kernels, and this leads to a problem of energy-wastefulness. If you imagine a microwave photon as a wiggling wave that you can draw on a piece of paper, one "wavelength" could be several centimeters. Place a corn kernel on the paper and you can see the wave MISS the kernel by wiggling around it as it passes by. Energy not absorbed by the kernel is wasted, so a method of focussing the microwaves onto the targeted corn kernels, in this popper, is necessary. Fortunately, such a method exists (involving specially constructed materials that have a "negative index of refraction"); it is called a "superlens" (see link). We will need one superlens for each maser in the unit, of course.

Naturally, we want the masers in this corn popper to be tuned to the frequency that water maximally absorbs (quite like an ordinary microwave oven), so that a blast of focused microwaves, from several directions surrounding a kernel, will almost instantly cause the water in the kernel to boil, and thus pop the kernel. Then we rig the device to be able to create several powerful blasts of microwaves per second.

So, as each kernel "drips" out of the hopper and falls through the "pop zone", it gets popped. Every single one of them, several kernels per second. There should be a device to detect whether-or-not a kernel is actually in the pop zone, before loosing the blast, in case the hopper/drip mechanism malfunctions. And that detection device can also be used to precisely time the blasts, so that a blast only occurs when a kernel is in the right place (during its vertical fall) in the zone.

Finally, the popped kernels fall into a kind of revolving-door device that prevents microwaves from getting out of the popper, while allowing the kernels to be collected in a container outside the unit. Just add butter and salt, and enjoy!

Vernon, Jul 03 2008

The earlier Idea Single_20Corn_20Popper
I think my version is different enough to avoid an MFD ... [Vernon, Jul 03 2008]

About a Superlens http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superlens
It is considered a "breakthrough" that they were able to make this work for light. I'm pretty sure they've been able to do this for microwaves for several years. [Vernon, Jul 03 2008]

In a power-producing inertial-confinement-fusion reactor... http://adsabs.harva...1990cicf.book.....P
This link mentions an explosion rate of 5Hz, which is 5 times per second. [Vernon, Jul 03 2008]

About masers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maser
Just in case you want more info on the subject. [Vernon, Jul 07 2008]


       + One could combine this with a suitable optical sensor / electrostatic or pneumatic deflection system to separate out the occasional "dud" kernel which lacks sufficient internal moisture to pop.
csea, Jul 07 2008

       Distribution curves. It is just the way it is.
4whom, Jul 07 2008

       // It is just the way it is //   

       Give us several large cavity magnetrons, some high-power infrared lasers, a research laboratory, a direct feed from the main grid, a stunningly beautiful blonde brilliant girl PhD assistant who looks good in spectacles and a well tailored white coat, a hunchbaked assisatnt called Igor, a lightning rod, a sack pf popping corn, a tea-chest of psychotropic medication, and a place to stand (preferably behind a pile of snadbags some distance away) and we shall move the world, MUHWHAHAHAHAHA !   

       Fools ! We'll pop them all ! All ! ALL, DO YOU HEAR US ? They said me were mad, Mad , MAAAADDDD .....   


       (She doesn't HAVE to be blonde....)
8th of 7, Jul 07 2008

       I worked on a popcorn weapon along the lines of a MAC 10 for a while, but pulled it when I ran into engineering issues and never got back to it. It was more of a crime scene story and less of an idea.
normzone, Jul 07 2008

       I just wanted to check that no-one thought of this before me. I was going to explain how a useless single corn popper could be a great idea with the virtue of its uselsessness. Its what would make it expensive.   

       Well there goes today's idea.   

       Add to it a web interface and a selfie cam and you can shoot the popcorn and catch it in your mouth with the cam...
pashute, Dec 04 2014

       The reason they don't all pop is that some of the kernels are duds. A Google search for something like [ why shouldn't you re-pop the unpopped popcorn ] will confirm this.
notexactly, Oct 07 2019

       // some of the kernels are duds //   

       In which case the consumer should have the right to return the "dud" kernels (in a pre-paid envelope or similar) and receive credit towards their next purchase.   

       After all, they've paid for "x" amount of popcorn, and then been cruelly defrauded of their entitlement, with not even a mess of pottage in recompense. Something should be done.
8th of 7, Oct 07 2019


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