Ann Landers, disseminating urban legends from beyond the grave

You may be aware that Ann Landers’ syndicate has a backlog of columns that will last for I think another couple of weeks. Today, the 12th of July, they published a this letter and a reply.

God almighty! It just figures, now that it’s too late for her to be taken to task over it, we’d find out she had one more UL up her sleeve. “When he looked more closely”. Who the hell looks at a cup of water? And they say “young man”, which implies that the letter writer is not young.

Snopes! Replace AL’s column with Snopes! Don’t take your scary e-mails to an advice column, take them to Snopes!

Cecil addressed this, too:

Did you bother to check Snopes? This can happen, although rarely. So Landers was right.

Cripes, as if fighting ignorance wasn’t hard enough already, now we’ve got undead ignorance, too? That’s it, I’m giving up and joining the Flat Earth Society.

What’s wrong with Ann’s advice, Rilchiam? It looks to be perfectly in line with what Snopes and HowStuffWorks say.

Incidentally, this has happened to me twice. Once with a regular old coffee cup (bloop! no big deal), and once with a sake bottle with a narrow neck, so the boiling sake burst out quite forcefully, burning my face. Not badly (good thing I wear glasses), but it taught me to keep my face away from the opening. And to not heat sake in such a vessel.

I had it happen when I boiled water for hot chocolate. I took it out of the microwave, took a heaping spoonful of cocoa and put it in, and BAM- hot water and chocolate everywhere. It didn’t “explode”, per se, but it did boil right over- when all was said and done there was only about 1/4 of the water left.

It most definately can happen, thus the “Theoretically, this can happen, although it would be a rare occurrence”

Makes sense to me.


Oh, phooey. All right, it can happen.

A thousand lashes with a wet noodle from a dead woman for you.

I saw a local news report where they actually made this happen. Probably took a buttload of tries, if they didn’t fake it to begin with, but it was quite impressive.

It’s pretty easy to do. Just microwave the water in a mug until it boils, let it cool a bit, then microwave it again. Then either smack it on the countertop wearing gloves of some sort, or just dump some nice nucleation points into it, like sugar or cocoa mix.

Or use a container made out of highly unstable explosives.

I dunno, I’ve always thought “don’t stick your face over steaming hot liquids you just microwaved” was a good rule to live by … :slight_smile:
– Dragonblink, who is forced to admit that she gave herself a third-degree burn on the roof of her mouth from the cheese on a microwaved enchilada

Actually, “SDSTAFF Dave” wrote the linked review. As noted at the bottom, “Staff Reports are researched and written by members of the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, Cecil’s online auxiliary. Although the SDSAB does its best, these articles are edited by Ed Zotti, not Cecil, so accuracywise you’d better keep your fingers crossed.”

Most of these reviews are quite good, but I know of one in particular that contained many errors, and when I pointed them out the author couldn’t be bothered to correct them. So it is a case of “reader be wary” and “trust but verify”.

Yeah, my water explodes occasionally too. (usually reheating the morning coffee) Of course, I am a Floridian. The normal laws of physics and nature simply do not apply down here.

Note to God: Thanks for the 28 straight days of rain - um, can you make it stop now?

Kamandi, just a tip on enjoying alcohol: sake should only be warmed to body temperature.

[sub]Disclaimer: I use the “should” to mean “according to people who claim to know a lot about sake, this produces the best taste.” If boiling produces a flavor or experience you particularly enjoy, then please ignore my rude intrusion. Cheers![/sub]

It happened to me for the first time in my life last month, when I was heating water in a very smooth-walled measuring cup in the microwave. I took it out and put some sauce mix into it, and instantly it boiled over and roiled over the edge of the cup, almost scalding me.

It can, and does, happen. I would have bet $100 that it couldn’t happen in my microwave, and I would have been a poorer woman as a result.

Have you built that gopherwood boat he asked for?

It’s never happend to me personally, but I suspect that’s because my cookingware generally isn’t clean enough. Dirt and filth offers too many points of nucleation, I suppose.

Yeah, I knew that. I went a little overboard with the nuking on that occasion. It was my first time heating sake at home.

I guess her syndicator doesn’t archieve her advice columns.

Not realizing today wasn’t the 12th, I started reading the OP, clicked the link and right there in the center of my screen:

I start thinkin’ to myself, wait a second, somethings wrong.
Who told Ann Landers about my occasional webcam diversions and how the hell did my antics become urban legend fodder?