Microwave Tolerance of Ants

Purpose: The purpose of this experiment is to study the tolerance level of ants to a microwave. For the benefit of scientific knowledge, this experiment hopes to delve into the question of how long an ant can survive in a microwave.

Hypothesis: Microwaves cause objects to heat up my striking it's individual atoms causing them to speed up. The faster atoms are moving, the more energy, and thus more heat an object has. Because the processes by which an organism remains alive are rather delicate, it is the hypothesis of this experiment that small amounts of exposure will be enough to harm the ants. Therefore, it is hypothesized that exposure of a mere 5 to 10 seconds will be enough to eliminate the ants.

Equipment: Needed for this experiment are ants, a styrofoam cup, a sandwich bag, microwave, and pen and paper. Also something sweet will be required, used for this experiment was fruit punch.

Procedure: The first step is to collect 5 ants into a sandwich bag. Then microwave them for 30 seconds, checking every 5 seconds to check on their condition. If they are still alive, microwave for 10 second incraments. Next, for part 2, pour the fruit punch into a styrofoam cup and place in the "ant stream". After a good amount of ants are on the cup, transfer to the microwave and apply for the amount of time it took to kill the ants in part 1. Observe condition of ants and record results.

Part I: Determination of tolerance
5 seconds
10 sec.
15 sec.
20 sec.
25 sec.
30 sec. 
40 sec.
50 sec. 
60 sec.
Condition of Ants Ants are O.k 1 ant dead
3 'sluggish'
2 ants dead
2 sluggish
No change No Change 2 ants dead
1 close to death, (one antennae moving),
2 Sluggish
3 ants dead
2 near to death
No Change 5 ants dead

Part II: Field confirmation of tolerance
Observations: After 1 minute; all ants inside the cup were dead, however all ants outside of the cup, "free roaming", remained alive after the initial minute. The cup was removed and the microwave was turned on for another minute, which killed all free roaming ants, except one. This ant was subsequently smashed to ensure that mutant microwave resistant ants do not propogate.

Conclusion: It seems the hypothesis was disproved and ants are able to tolerate a microwave for a relatively high amount of time. One area of interest is whether an ant that is allowed to "free roam" has a better chance of survival then an ant who stays in one spot. Evidence suggest that they do, however, ants inside the cup probably were killed quickly by the steam rising from the liquid in the cup. Although this experiment provides plenty of information in this area of science, more research into these issues should be performed.

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