When you hear the word “microwave,” you probably think of the handy appliance that helps you heat up leftover pizza. But have you ever wondered why it’s called that? The appliance is named after the type of energy that is used to make that cold pepperoni slice a hot and ready one. If you want to learn more about what microwaves really are, you’ve come to the right place.
What is a Microwave?
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation. Their wavelengths can be as small as one millimeter and as large as a meter. They are most commonly used to warm up food, but they can also be used for communication. There are many tools that can be used to manipulate microwaves, such as directional couplers. Microwaves are used a lot more than you might think.
When Was the Microwave Oven Invented?
Although microwaves have always existed, the first predictions of the radiation were made by James Clerk Maxwell in 1864. Many other scientists, including Heinrich Hurts, found more established data of the existence of microwaves.
However, discovering the fascinating use of electromagnetic radiation for cooking needs happened by accident. Percy Spencer was working in a radiation laboratory when he noticed that his candy bar had melted in his pocket. Hearing similar stories with radiation, Percy investigated why it happened. With a few more experiments with popcorn and other foods, the company Raytheon took the rights to create the first microwave oven called the Radarange. It was about 6 feet tall. Today, microwaves can be found in almost every household in the United States.
What Other Benefits Do Microwaves Have?
Although this type of radiation makes cooking so much easier, there are some incredible uses of microwave technology. These waves can penetrate weather, haze and smoke, making it much easier to transmit information to and from outer space. This enables scientists to study conditions even underneath hurricanes and other harsh weather.
Microwaves also benefit radar technology. By sending out a burst of microwaves, specialized tools can receive data from the waves reflected off objects. The time it takes for the waves to reflect can accurately detect how far away an object is. Along with radars, mobile phones and wifi use microwaves.
Next time you have a lengthy discussion with friends about the power of microwave ovens, you can teach them what microwaves really are. The continual progress that science makes leads to exciting new technologies, even if by accident. Because of microwave technology, we can eat pizza while sending texts to our friends.