Microwaves and Weird Neighbors

  1. M40

    M40 8

    Is it possible to injure your neighbor with microwaves using the heater of a microwave oven when there is a thick wall yours and your neighbor's apartments?

    I know this is a really weird questions, but that's because it's related to a really weird situation.

    A friend of mine does not get along quite well with his neighbor. His neighbor told him, that if he wanted, he could get a heater of a microwave oven, attach it to the wall, turn it on and get out of his apartment and that way irradiate him!!!

    I'd like to ask if something like that can be dangerous.

    I really hope damaging someone this way is not possible, but if you think this could be dangerous please write me a private message and tell a moderator to delete this post so that no one else can use this method to hurt anyone.

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, if they defeat the interlock of the microwave oven door, and aim the oven at the neighbor's apartment, it could cause some problems. That should be taken as a threat, and reported to the police. It is technically a threat of assault.

    Defeating safety interlocks is basically a bad idea, and illegal in this case. If nothing else, it violates the FCC rules for transmitted levels in the ISM (microwave oven 2.4GHz) band. Tell your friend to talk to the police. He should ask them to have a talk with the neighbor.
  4. M40

    M40 8

    Thank you for your prompt and informative response!

    Unfortunately the police in my country is not as useful as you may expect so I really doubt that informing them would help, but thank you for the suggestion. I'll my friend about it.

    Is there any, not very expensive, way to detect such waves? It would really help if there is.

    Thank you very much!
  5. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    I Googled microwave oven leakage detector, and got bzillions of hits. Here's the hit list:

    The first hit on the list has a detector for $30 USD:

    These detectors are pretty darned cheap, and will detect whether the neighbor is insane enough to try something.

    You could probably make something yourself, considering the power levels involved. Maybe just a 2.4GHz dipole and rectifying diode, with an LED or audio output. Microwave ovens actually pulse the 2.4GHz signal, so you would get an audio noise from the rectified antenna output.
  6. M40

    M40 8

    2 more questions, if I may:

    1. Should I trust a device like the one at the link?
    2. Isn't there any substance that can absorb microwaves and this way act as a protection?

    Thank you very much! I appreciate your help!
  7. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    -1- That device, though inexpensive, is made to detect lower levels of radiation than would be present if the door interlock were defeated. Yeah, I'd trust it.

    -2- You could either absorb or reflect the microwaves. Easiest/cheapest absorber is water, so if you could figure out how to put about an inch of water between the apartments, that would work. Not sure how to do that, though. Maybe a bunch of aquariums? Cheapest reflector would be aluminum foil. Kind of radical to line the wall with aluminum foil, though. Not exactly stylish....

    What caused such bad blood with the neighbors? Maybe the most practical solution is to make peace.
  8. A person can sustain permanent burns and eye injuries if is sufficiently exposed to a microwave radiation. And yes, they can travel through the walls.

    However it's very likely that the person rigging the microwave oven would injure himself first.
  9. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    And it could start a fire as well. That would be a sucky end to all of this -- the fool burns down the apartment building by starting a fire in the wall between the apartments.

    If the police wouldn't help, then maybe M40's friend should talk to the landlord to let them know that the neighbor is threatening to do something that could burn the place down...
  10. I agree. Foil is your best option, unless you have a giant fish tank to cover your wall...

    You could also build a Faraday Cage around your house like 'NoobixCubes' wiki link contains.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2008
  11. When your neighbor wants to attack you with microwave radiation, you have more of a policy issue than a technical one.
  12. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    I doubt that the emitter if a microwave emits a concentrated enough beam to burn someone from more than a meter away. And at less than a kw, you wouldn't burn fast anyway. Compare it to getting too close to a hairdryer.
  13. I've heard of a case of exactly this such a thing on a radio show 2 years ago. It was about a neighbor that had a feud with the apt. beside him and he directed the microwave at the wall. The neighbor was said to have been sick during a period of a month, with symptoms of nausea and weakness. Since there were no laws in the US that included the use of a microwave as a directed energy weapon at the time this occured, the guy didn't even get charged.

    However, this was just a radio show interview I recall, so take it with a grain of salt. But as other have said above and the army is doing, microwave weapons are certainly real.
  14. lol.
  15. I expected the danger to be from radiation (sickness, not burns). Is that not correct, and there's more danger from direct burns to the skin than from radiation damage? Or are they actually the same thing?
  16. I'm not 100% sure, but I think what is usually called radiation sickness is due to ionizing radiation (eg, the atoms that get struck by photons lose electrons, they become ionized).
    Microwave radiation is non-ionizing radiation I believe. It simply causes polarized molecules (dipoles, such as water molecules) to spin about rapidly, aligning themselves with the sinusoidal EM-wave continuously, which causes heat (and thus burns).
  17. berkeman

    Staff: Mentor

    I think this thread has run its course. It deals with a dangerous situation that should be handled by making peace with the neighbor, or using the police or landlord to resolve the situation.

    Thread locked.
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