Cell Phone Popcorn

Make popcorn with your cell phone?

A couple years ago, a YouTube video of a group of friends popping corn with their cell phones went viral and has since been viewed over 7 million times.

The theory behind it was that radiation waves between the mobile phones would cause enough energy to heat the kernels.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), it turned out to be a hoax.

According to physics professor Louis Bloomfield, it is not physically possible. In a microwave, energy excites the water inside the popcorn kernels until it turns into highly pressurized gas causing the kernels to pop. If mobile phones actually emitted that much energy, it would also be heating up the water inside the fingers and faces of people holding the phones which, believe me, would hurt like a mofo.


The video launched a slew of conspiracy theories, including suggestions that it was perhaps an ad campaign for certain handset manufacturers. This notion was fueled by comments such as “maybe it only works for certain brands and models?” which made people pay close attention to the handset.

However, it turns out it was actually a viral marketing campaign for Bluetooth headset manufacturer Cardo Systems, bringing attention to cell phone radiation. The company suffered a little heat (pun intended) as the fake video was being used by lobbyists as real evidence for concerns over cell phone emissions.

The company immediately fessed up and claimed their intention was absolutely not to scare people, but rather a humorous way to engage users with their products. In a CNN news segment revealing the prank, the CEO of Cardo described the campaign as having “surpassed expectations”. The secret behind the popping in the video was a mixture between a kitchen stove and digital editing.

This was very similar to a previous cell phone prank which claimed an egg could be cooked by using two mobile phones.

Hoax aside, there is still an ongoing debate about the danger of radio-frequency radiation emitted by cell phones. Although there might indeed be some cause for concern, there is absolutely no way you can make popcorn with your mobile phone – yet.

So keep your microwave, rare occurrence of a device not yet threatened by extinction for being replaced by a mobile phone.

And stand far, far, away while it pops.

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