Is it possible to cook an entire meal with the power of slaps? That’s the question YouTube creator Louis Weisz set out to answer in his latest video. Now you can impress your friends by telling them you know how many slaps it takes to cook a chicken: at least 135,000.
Weisz first tackled this absolutely cursed quandary, courtesy of Reddit, in December. After designing and building a slapping rig, i.e. a paddle attached to a motor-powered robot arm, his first test showed promising results, increasing the chicken’s internal temperature by as much as 16 degrees Celsius. However, the original rig couldn’t stand up to that much meat pounding, so for his latest round of testing this week he added several modifications.
The main design overhaul dealt with a key issue with the first attempt: As the rig sped up, the force behind each slap also increased, thus pulverising the chicken into oblivion (or, as Weisz put it in very scientific terms, “accelerating its pulpification”). So in the updated design, he used adjustable spring steel strips to attach the paddle to the robot arm in order to customise the “slap depth” for increased impact control. He also constructed a new robot arm made out of aluminium with an oak core to combine strength and rigidity.
Another problem was how to keep the chicken from steadily leaking heat into the surrounding environment without using bulky insulation that could dampen the blows. The solution: Covering the chicken in a layer of super-thin aerogel insulation, the same material NASA uses to help keep its astronauts warm in their spacesuits. That way the kinetic energy from the force of each slap couldn’t escape after converting into heat and would instead be trapped inside, thus cooking the meat.
Weisz christened the updated rig the Meatbeater 9001 (because of course). In a series of attempts, the machine did manage to partially cook the chicken, but it either overheated or broke into pieces in the process. To smooth out these wrinkles, Weisz reinforced the mechanical arm with steel plates, added a second motor to take stress off the first, linked both motors with a belt to double their power output to as much as 40 amps, and covered the rig in plenty of fans and ice to keep everything cool.
Before he attempted cooking a chicken again, Weisz successfully tested the improved rig on a steak, heating it up to about 60 degrees Celsius, i.e. medium rare, with roughly 34,000 slaps. While technically edible, it doesn’t sound like a meal you’d want anywhere near your mouth based on his assessment.
“It basically tastes like you’ve been chewing it more a minute already,” Weisz said in the video.
And yes, the rig successfully cooked a whole chicken too (sure, everything got destroyed in the process, but hey, that still counts!). All it took was about half a dozen hours and 135,000 slaps to heat the meat to a steady 55 degrees Celsius or higher for a little over 90 minutes.
While it’s normally recommended to cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 73 degrees Celsius to kill off any germs inside, it is possible to achieve that same result when cooking at significantly lower temperatures so long as the heat is sustained for at least 75 minutes.
But though Weisz’ slapping rig cooked the chicken just past the threshold for it to be safe to eat, he smartly opted not to dig as all that pounding broke through the chicken’s insulated container, mixing fibreglass and aerogel into the meat.
It’s not exactly fine dining, but at least now we have an answer to the age-old question: How many slaps does it take to cook a chicken?