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You might remember the heroic role that newly-invented radar played in the Second World War People hailed it then as Our Miracle Ally But even in its earliest years as it was helping win the war radar proved to be more than an expert enemy locator Radar technicians doodling away in their idle moments found that they could focus a radar beam on a marshmallow and toast it They also popped popcorn with it Such was the beginning of microwave cooking The very same energy that warned the British of the German Luftwaffe invasion and that policemen employ to pinch speeding motorists is what many of us now have in our kitchens Its the same as what carries long distance phone calls and cablevision Hitlers army had its own version of radar using radio waves But the trouble with radio waves is that their long wavelength requires a large cumbersome antenna to focus them into a narrow radar beam The British showed that microwaves with their short wavelength could be focussed ina narrow beam with an antenna many times smaller This enabled them to make more effective use of radar since an antenna could be carried on aircraft ships and mobile ground stations This characteristic of microwaves the efficiency with which they are concentrated in a narrow beam is one reason why they can be used in cooking You can produce a high-powered microwave beam in a small oven but you cant do the same with radio waves which are simply too long Microwaves and their Use The idea of cooking with radiation may seem like a fairly new one but in fact it reaches back thousands of years Ever since mastering fire man has cooked with infrared radiation a close kin of the microwave Infrared rays are what give you that warm glow when you put your hand near a room radiator or a hotplate or a
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