Microwave Ovens




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Microwave ovenswere invented during World War II as the British forces sought topinpoint the locations of Nazi warplanes. Electromagnetic waves hadbeen observed to reflect off metallic objects. This led to theinvention radar satellite imagery. It was in this capacity that PercySpencer discovered another effect of electromagnetic waves. Whilebuilding magnetrons to power data sets, he noticed that a candy barin his pocket had melted. Mystified by this phenomenon, Spencerexperimented with other foods (Krols, 2012). He discovered thatelectromagnetic waves discharged by the magnetron heated up foodsubstances. The invention was patented and enhanced by putting amagnetron inside a sealed metal case.


A microwave has afundamental structure with a magnetron connected to a source of highvoltage. The magnetron emits electromagnetic waves that bounce aroundthe metallic walls of the enclosure. The window of the microwave ismade up of either plastic or glass. The electromagnetic waves insidethe microwave are absorbed by various particles such as water, sugar,and fat. Heating of food items occurs through a process calleddielectric heating. The availability of water molecules plays a greatrole in the function of the microwave oven. This owes to the electricdipolar nature of water molecules. The electromagnetic waves createan environment of rapidly changing electric fields. The charged watermolecules turn swiftly and continuously in alignment to this field.Friction among water molecules creates heat that is conducted toother particles within the food substance.

Microwaves havebeen lauded for heating food faster than traditional ovens.Additionally, electromagnetic waves are non-ionizing due to theirshort wavelength. This shows the unique capability of microwave ovensto heat food without making it radioactive. The mesh on the microwavewindow restricts electromagnetic waves while at the same timepermitting light waves. Therefore, one can observe the heatingcontents of the microwave oven without being in danger of radiationpoisoning. However, microwaves have been criticized for diminishingthe nutritional value of cooked food. In some instances, they alsoalter chemicals responsible for inhibiting cancer growth (Reed,2015). Nevertheless, radiation poisoning is unavoidable due to itspervasiveness. For example, radiation can result from cell phones,broadcast antennas, computers, radio and cell phone towers,Satellites, and television sets. The accumulative effect of radiationrenders microwave ovens as hazardous.


Microwave ovenshave had a tremendous social impact since their invention. In thedecades, women were confined to kitchens busy with food preparationactivities. However, the emergence of microwaves and other mechanicalappliances has lessened the burden of cooking. Both young and oldpersons have embraced cooking due to its simplicity. Microwaves havealso altered daily routines and habits. Married women with childrenhave had the freedom to pursue secular employment where previouslythey would elect to stay home. Microwaves have enabled such women toserve hot food to their children without having to prepare food eachday. Family eating habits have also experienced a shift. For example,many families no longer dine as a unit due to the ease of foodpreparation (Reed, 2015). Such a situation has been advantageous forfamilies with diverse members. Parents have had the leeway of workinglate hours while school-going children have enrolled in endlessextra-curricular activities.

Microwave ovenshave made cooking faster and easier. Such convenience has resulted incontinuous episodes of consumption throughout the day. Healthproblems such as obesity have been cited as probable consequences ofovereating. The proliferation of microwave ovens has made itfashionable to indulge in unhealthy diets. Fast food restaurantsprovide quick fixes to persons leading busy lifestyles. Thetime-saving capability of microwave ovens has heightened thepopularity of convenience food markets (Reed, 2015). Processed foodspresent little nutritional value despite their wide preference.Consequently, higher spending habits have emerged.

Microwave ovensseem to contribute to the annoying streak of impatience andentitlement. Many people do not exercise patience, especially whenqueuing for a certain service. Such a presumptuous attitude is alsoseen whenever people try to cut corners and seek shortcuts. Asdiscussed, microwave ovens heat food faster and more efficiently thantraditional ovens. For example, a food item that takes severalminutes to warm in a conventional oven requires just a couple ofminutes in a microwave oven (Reed, 2015). Therefore, a microwave hasonly served to foster the impatient attitude that is seen on numerouslevels of society.

Independence hasalso been one of the social impacts enhanced by microwaves. Childrenin families no longer rely on parents to prepare meals on theirbehalf. Furthermore, they also spend less time at home due to theinfluence from friends. Teenagers especially have been exposed to themicrowave oven at a young age. This stands in stark contrast to the1950s and 1960s where only a handful of companies existed. Even fewercompanies manufactured microwaves, or radar ranges, as they werecalled. The current simplicity of use has relieved women of theconstant requirement to stay in the kitchen (Reed, 2015). On theother hand, it means that parents exercise less authority over theirchildren. Coupled with the loss mentioned above of family time, thishas led to the breakdown of many a families.

The industrialrevolution has also been typified by microwaves. In the 1950s,existing companies were renowned for the manufacture of machinery.The first microwaves to be manufactured were as huge and cumbersomeas modern fridges. Their discovery had just been made, and so theoriginal designs were maintained. Manufacturers felt the need toproduce microwaves that bore a resemblance to industrial machinery(Krols, 2012). This would serve to remind customers of thereliability and durability of microwave ovens. However, the emergenceof improved forms of technology forced a rethink of manufacturingstandards. Newer microwave ovens became fancier, shinier, and smallerthan previous models. This was accompanied by drastic reductions inpricing. Smaller and poorer households could now afford to acquiremicrowave ovens for their families. On the other hand, manufacturersutilized the opportunity to make microwave ovens less durable toguarantee more sales. The number of kitchen appliances multipliedduring the 1970s (Krols, 2012). Therefore, the gradual development ofmicrowave ovens can be used to illustrate the shift in socialstandards and culture.

Microwaves alsotypify the role played by tools and machinery in human lives. Whilethey certainly simplify certain things, they also dictate humanbehavior in other instances. For example, the availability ofmicrowave ovens has popularized processed foods at the expense ofhealthier foods. Many people would prefer to consume fast foods suchas potato chips rather than have home-cooked meals. This has onlyserved to enhance the surge of lifestyle diseases. Furthermore, foodsthat bore certain nutritional benefits has been devalued by microwaveuse.


Microwave ovenshave been one of the most radical inventions of the modern era. Themicrowave was invented due to events that occurred accidentally(Krols, 2012). Their current design includes a magnetron mounted to asource of high voltage inside a metal case. Their functionality isgoverned by the ability of electromagnetic waves to trigger resonantcoupling. Water molecules are necessary for food to be heated due totheir dipolar electrical property. Dielectric heating is the meansthrough which microwave energy is converted to heat energy.

On a socialscale, the microwave oven has reduced family interaction andprecipitated massive changes in daily routine. Food preparation hasbeen made faster and more convenient. Unhealthy diets have alsoproliferated as a result of extended microwave use. Levels ofspending continue to rise and convenience food stores flock with morecustomers (Reed, 2015). The family unit has weakened as a result ofself-determination and self-reliance.


Reed, C. (2015). Microwave ovens. Vero Beach, Florida: RourkeEducational Media.

Krols, B. (2012). Accidental inventions: The chance discoveriesthat changed our lives. San Rafael, California: Insight Editions.