A "Light" Meal

What It Is

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What You Do
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What You Learn

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How You Make It

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What We've Learned

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Related Projects

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What to Do:
Press the button on top of the black box beside the microwave oven. Now look into the cavity of the microwave. You will see lights inside turning on and off. Watch the patterns; what do you see? What is making the lights turn on? Please do not press the button for more than 10 seconds!!! (And don’t do this with your microwave!)
What is Happening:
There are a bunch of neon light bulbs glued to the bottom of the microwave oven. Microwave ovens cook food through the use of electromagnetic waves. Radio waves, light, and microwaves are all forms of electromagnetic waves. The electromagnetic waves can heat food (and penetrate it, to warm the inside directly), and they can also light up neon light bulbs! So the pattern of lights shows you where the electromagnetic waves are most intense. Note that the pattern changes with time. This is because there is a very slow-moving fan that “stirs” the microwaves (it’s really called a “multimode exciter”, and how it works is somewhat more complicated than this) so that one part of the oven does not get too much radiation while another gets very little.

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