April 27th, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

ALEX ASKS: A while ago, I asked what would happen if you microwaved a watermelon and you said not to do it. Fair enough, but what would happen if you put a watermelon in liquid nitrogen and then dropped it off of a tall building?

Alex, Alex, Alex… why all the animosity toward watermelons? First, you’re putting them in the microwave and next you’re deep freezing them and dropping them from great heights. You’re probably a big Gallagher fan, aren’t you? (Or too young to know who Gallagher is.) I don’t understand why you can’t just hack the watermelon to bits and eat it, but your question is an interesting one, so I’ll make an attempt to answer it. But first, a warning:

WARNING: Liquid nitrogen is a dangerously cold substance. Liquid nitrogen is not a toy. Do not handle liquid nitrogen without the supervision of a trained professional.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to your question. Liquid nitrogen is, of course, very cold. Somewhere in the neighborhood of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means anything placed in liquid nitrogen, including watermelon, will be frozen solid in matter of seconds. This includes fingers and hands, which explains the warning above.

So the answer to what would happen if you placed a watermelon in liquid nitrogen and dropped it off of a tall building is simple. The watermelon would freeze as solid as an ice cube and break into a thousand pieces when dropped from even a moderate height of about 30 feet. And then you’d have a big mess to clean up and no watermelon to eat for lunch.  

I couldn’t find a video of a watermelon being frozen and dropped from a building, but I did find a video of pennies being chilled in liquid nitrogen and shattered with a hammer. Enjoy!

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April 1st, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

Watermelon is a fruit that has been around for more than 2,000 years, and although truly new developments in how it’s grown are rare, they’re not unheard of. Several decades ago, the seedless watermelon was created thanks to the miracles of cross pollination. And, in the past decade, Japanese farmers have found a way to create watermelons shaped like squares and pyramids using molds to coax the watermelon into various forms while it grows.

Beyond that, the watermelon as we know it has remained virtually unchanged: a round or oblong fruit/vegetable with a sweet, red (or sometimes yellow) interior. But that all changed recently in a laboratory/greenhouse in San Jose, CA, when botanists, with the help of biologists from several area universities, were able to produce the first watermelon with a multicolored interior. Pictured below is one of the first watermelons grown using the new method.


By altering the structure of the carotenes and carotenoid pigments in the watermelon, the group was able to “reprogram” the watermelon’s genetic code to create a product with flesh in various hues based on a simple input in the first two weeks of the watermelon’s growth cycle. According to researchers, although the watermelon may look vastly different on the inside, the actual taste and nutritional benefits of the fruit remain unchanged.

The watermelons were grown in a controlled indoor environment between October 2009 and March 2010. For now, the experiment is limited to around 50 watermelons, but the researchers hope to perfect the technique over the next year in time for a large-scale, outdoor trial at a 100-acre farm near Sacramento, CA, in 2011 and have the multicolored watermelons – which they expect to sell for virtually the same price as regular watermelons – in select stores nationwide later that year.

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