How Do Microwaves Work?

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© Rostislav Sedlacek/Fotolia

How Do Microwaves Work?

Microwave ovens wereِ life altering fromِ the moment theyِ began humming andِ heating inِ homes ofِ the 1970s.
The sprinter toِ theِ conventional oven’s cross-country runner, microwaves quickened theِ process ofِ cooking andِ reheating meals, saving time andِ increasing theِ potential forِ leisure overِ work.
It seemsِ to beِ a magical metal box thatِ spins andِ heats food byِ invisible means ratherِ than heating theِ air andِ everything aroundِ it byِ conduction fromِ a flame (as wasِ theِ norm).

Microwave ovens cook foods byِ injecting themِ with, surprise, microwaves—a form ofِ energy.
These electromagnetic waves areِ invisible toِ theِ human eye andِ fall betweenِ radio waves, whichِ areِ longer inِ wavelength, andِ infrared waves, whichِ areِ shorter.
Inside theِ guts ofِ a microwave, a device called a magnetron channels electrical energy fromِ a power outlet toِ a heated filament, creating a flow ofِ electrons thatِ inِ turn transmits microwaves intoِ the cooking chamber throughِ anِ antenna.

So howِ doِ the common microwave rules makeِ sense withِ theseِ mechanics.
Certain types ofِ plastics areِ able toِ absorb microwaves likeِ foods do, making themِ prone toِ melting, dissolving, andِ therefore contaminating theِ food cooked onِ or inِ them.
Metal reflects microwaves andِ therefore interferes withِ theِ movement ofِ the waves insideِ the ovens.