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Coffee Mug in Microwave

I have on occasion thought about learning and in particular the co-development of the mental and motor skills necessary to complete a task. What comes to mind are the 18th – 19th century craftsmen who made figurines. A master might have started off as a youth with the trivial tasks of the process, such as painting the feet, then progressed to the hands, then may be the clothing. It was left to the master craftsman to paint the face. Progress through each stage of the apprenticeship was measured in years, not days, weeks or months. Yet, what distinguishes this process is its repetitive nature over an extended period of study to acquire what appears to be a small number of seemingly simple skills at each increment.

My confinement to home, as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine, has released time once occupied by going “out” that now needs to be filled. There are many candidates willing to take up this gap, but one question attracted my attention, in part because it is both trivial and practical.

The question is what should be the orientation a coffee mug placed into a microwave, that has a turntable that rotates the object being heated, so that when the heating cycle is complete, the handle of the mug is in a convenient position for removal. The question came up as I noticed on several occasions that the handle of the mug was located facing towards the rear of the oven, making it difficult to pick up the [hot] mug. I decided that it would be better if the handle was oriented towards the right side at the end of the heating cycle.

After several observations I came to understand that the key factor in controlling the outcome was the rotation time of the turn table. Noting that it had a consistent period of rotation of 10 seconds, by positioning the mug with the handle in the preferred location at the start of the heating cycle, and choosing a heat time of some multiple of the period of rotation, the handle would be in the very same position when the heating cycle completed. Success assumes a heating cycle of some multiple of 10 seconds is sufficient. For my purposes of heating instant coffee, 120 seconds works well enough.

No animals were hurt in the conduct of this experiment.


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