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Unusual Inventions - The Sweet smell of the Microwave

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by Alastair Cameron

Pardon the poetic title - but you couldn’t write this invention. This is the story of the chocolate bar, the scientists pocket, the popcorn and the egg. Confused?

*Okay, before we go on, I need to clarify. The Microwave is not and cannot be invented. Microwaves are natural forms of electromagnetic radiation, and don’t ask me more, I don’t know. However the product that we know as the Microwave is a product invented that cooks things very quickly - I think we all get that part.

Dr, Percy Spencer, can take credit for the Microwave Oven, but like many inventions, the Engineer was attempting to test other things at the time and it was just by luck and a bit of thinking that the credit falls at his lap. (literally)

Passing in front of a magnetron (a high-poweredvacuum tube that generatesmicrowaves using the interaction of a stream ofelectrons with amagnetic field) at one of the laboratories at Raytheon where he worked -microwave oven the Doctor noticed that the chocolate bar that was in his pocket, had begun to melt. It got him thinking and he went and grabbed a bag of popcorn, which after being held up to the magnetron - began to pop...The egg he then ‘experimented on’ exploded...

Fast forward 20 years or so, post vast size microwave machines that would not look out of place on the TV show Lost as part of the Dharma Initiative, the Microwave Oven, or Microwave, as we simply know it was a mainstay in many homes. Now, we are literally lost without one in the home.

If ever you need the inspiration that many ideas and inventions, just happen (but you have to be doing something in the first place for them to happen) then the Microwave is that proof. Success must taste sweet for Dr. Percy Spencer, inventor of the Microwave*.

By the way, that is not Dr Percy Spencer in the picture, in case you were wondering...

Hungry for more unusual inventions - check out our tale of the Corn Flake


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Published on: 10th September 2012

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