# Physics of a microwave - why does the turntable spin?

1. Jan 8, 2016

### tayles123

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
A microwave oven operates by injecting electromagnetic waves with a frequency of 2.45 GHz into the cavity formed by the conducting metal shields on each face of the oven box. Explain, with the aid of sketches and simple calculations, why it is generally necessary to rotate the food using a turntable during operation

3. The attempt at a solution

My guess is something to do with standing waves, and waves reflecting off of the metal shields causing interference and so different strengths of the EM waves will hit the food, so by rotating the turntable you get a more evenly cooked food.
However this is a 4 mark question, and I don't see why I need the frequency.
Help much appreciated!!

2. Jan 8, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Use the frequency and the speed of light to calculate the distance between the peaks of the standing waves...

3. Jan 8, 2016

### tayles123

Ah thanks I see that, but why would the distance between the peaks be relevant? Would it just be a tool in explaining why if the turntable was still, then not all of the food would get heated ~ evenly?

4. Jan 8, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Yes, you are on the right track. What is the wavelength of 2.4GHz EM radiation?

5. Jan 8, 2016

### tayles123

0.125m so this is double the length of the standing wave?

6. Jan 8, 2016

7. Jan 8, 2016

### haruspex

What do you mean by "the length of the standing wave" that is different from the wavelength? Do you mean the distance between two antinodes?

8. Jan 8, 2016

9. Jan 8, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

I thought it's because of a better heat distribution. It might happen that you heat up only parts of your food, so spinning is at least an attempt to avoid this. Am I wrong assuming it's just that simple?

10. Jan 8, 2016

### haruspex

That's basically right, but only shows it could be a problem. You need to think about the wavelength to show there actually is a problem.