- What Is the ‘Accident’ that Paved Way to the Invention of Microwave Ovens
- The Rise of Popularity of Microwave Ovens
- Other Uses of Microwaves
Live Science reported that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 90% of Americans have microwave ovens in their kitchens. However, only few people know that this device was created purely by accident despite developing into one of the most widely used household appliances in the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), microwave ovens use radio waves at the frequency of 2,450 megahertz and have a power ranging from 500 to 1,100 watts.
What Is the ‘Accident’ that Paved Way to the Invention of Microwave Ovens
In the 1920s, Percy Spencer rose to become one of the most esteemed and well-known engineers at Raytheon Manufacturing Company. Throughout World War II, Spencer served as Raytheon’s go-to problem-solver while the company worked to enhance radar technology for the Allied forces, according to Popular Mechanics.
Spencer aimed to develop more effective and efficient methods for mass-producing radar magnetrons.
Popular Mechanics mentioned that a radar magnetron is a type of electric whistle that produces vibrating electromagnetic waves rather than audible vibrations.
And this is when Spencer was greeted by a surprising discovery. When he reached into his pocket to get something for lunch on that fateful day in 1945, he found that the peanut cluster bar had melted. During that time, Spencer was testing a magnetron.
Spencer conducted a few tests to prove this phenomenon and all of them were successful.
And this is how the microwave was created.
The Rise of Popularity of Microwave Ovens
Even though the microwave oven was created at the end of World War II, Live Science noted that it took a long time for people to trust them due to the radiation they use. Eventually, fears subsided as the technology advanced. It is evident now that this is the case since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 90% of Americans have microwave ovens in their kitchens
The first industrial microwave oven appeared in 1947. The “Radarange,” as it was known, cost more than $2,000 and weighed close to 750 pounds.
Meanwhile, the first microwave oven to become popular in American homes was Amana’s compact “Radarange” in 1967. That is about 20 years after its creation.
By 1975, one million microwaves were being sold annually.
But did you ever wonder if Spencer knew it was okay to use the microwave for cooking? According to popular Mechanics, his grandson claims that he didn’t.
Other Uses of Microwaves
Spencer’s discovery and microwave technology research continue to serve as a foundation for today’s research in radar and magnetron technologies.
By penetrating clouds, rain, and snow, different microwave wavelengths are being utilized to monitor weather conditions and even rain structures via satellites. Business Insider also noted that microwaves are used in other radar technology to measure sea levels to within a few centimeters.
But if Spencer hadn’t seen the melting candy bar in his pocket all those years ago, none of this would be happening.