For the days you want to destroy the embarrassing remnants of your childhood (here’s looking at you, S Club 7), or just channel your inner Palpatine, we’ve got just the trick for you: hit it with 240,000 volts.
OK, real talk: you should probably not even think about doing this at home. The video comes to us from YouTuber Photonicinduction, best known for his self-destructing washing machine, hair dryer flame thrower and homemade fifty-thousand-amp transformer. He’s no stranger to dangerous experiments, but the mad scientist doesn’t recommend people take a crack at them. “In some situations, you can actually generate X-rays doing this,” he warns. “And O-zone.” Neither of which make particularly good roommates.
The reason CDs (an other data disks for that matter) are reflective is because they’re coated in a thin layer of aluminum (and sometimes gold). By arcing the electricity from a step-up transformer to the spinning disk, our YouTube overlord is vaporizing that layer of metal. What we’re left with at the end is a plain, polycarbonate disk.
Now, the data on CDs is stored in a series of bumps, known as pits, on the polycarbonate itself. You don’t see the pits because they’re extremely small: just 0.5 microns long. For a bit of perspective, a strand of your hair is about 40 microns thick. There are so many of these tiny pits on a single disk, that if you were to stretch the data track out, it would span over three miles! Whether or not some of that information could be retrieved by re-coating the CD with aluminum remains to be seen, but there are certainly easier ways to cover your – wait for it – tracks.
Let’s leave this bit of electro-badassery to the pros.