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Electrocuting a Watermelon Makes a Fantastic Video Spectacle

Published On 03/15/2017 Published On 03/15/2017

Whether it's slicing through everyday objects with a superheated knife or pouring molten aluminum onto an iPhone, The Backyard Scientist has always been a resource for vicarious YouTube-ing. Last week, they decided to turn their efforts to capacitors -- you know, those battery-like energy-storing found in devices like computers and lasers. Unlike batteries they store their energy not in a chemical field, but in an electrical one, which means they can serve a very important function, the Backyard Scientist explains: "Instead of a slow, steady discharge, capacitors can release all of their energy in a fraction of a second."

So, naturally, the followup question any responsible scientist should have is: What happens when you combine as many capacitors as you possibly can and stick a watermelon on them? That's what the Backyard Scientist did in the video above.

It wasn't easy. First, the crew tried to blow up a watermelon using a smaller capacitor -- one that contained over 1,000 joules of energy. For context, a capacitor of about 200 joules is enough to power a professional camera's flash. A 1,000-joule capacitor is enough to blow a hot dog (or a human heart, the dude in the video mentions with a cocked eyebrow and far too much enthusiasm) to pieces. But once they set it up with a watermelon, even a burst of 1,000 joules wasn't enough to destroy the mighty melon.

So they added more power, building a capacitor bank the size of a small kitchen island with more than 20,000 joules in it. "That's like shooting four .50-caliber sniper rifles at the exact same time," the Backyard Scientist explains. Then they attached a watermelon to it and ran 20,000 volts of electricity through the damn thing. Watch the video to see what happens. Words don't really do it justice, but a neighbor did threaten to call the cops.

Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer and editor at Thrillist. Follow him @e_vb_.

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