Marvin and Milo

Explore physics the exciting way, by trying out a simple and fun experiment. This month, Microwave marathon Don't forget to check back next month for the next edition...

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What you need


Ice cubes

Tap water


A microwave oven

Identical microwave-safe cups



Put a few ice cubes into a dry cup and weigh it.

Pour water into another cup until it weighs the same as the first one. (It is dangerous to heat distilled water in a microwave, so use tap water.)

Stand the cups on opposite sides of the oven’s turntable and microwave them. The water should boil before the ice melts!

Results & explanation


Inside the oven there’s a quickly-changing electric field. Water molecules are slightly charged at both ends and in liquid water they keep rotating to stay in line with it, so their energy increases. Ice water molecules are fixed in a crystal structure and don’t rotate, so they don’t gain much energy by being microwaved.


Read more about microwaves on


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