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Why are microwave waves bad for you?

  1. Jun 23, 2012 #1
    Well, my parents always told me to stay out of the microwave when it's running...
    I understand that well, of course if I were to go inside my water-based blood will boil and cook me thoroughly...
    but why are the waves that harmful for me? I mean, microwave wave lengths are even longer (fixed- thanks for pointing out :) than those of visible light's... so if they were to caution me of getting near the microwave shouldn't they be terribly afraid of me facing the visible light from the sun? Despite the distance between the sun and me... it isn't as if the wavelength is getting shorter as the rays approach me...
    Thanks! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2012 #2
    Microwave waves are longer than visible light waves, aren't they ?

    They aren't until they are closed in the oven. If there was a possibility to put your hand into the oven, it would burn from the inside.

    What is interesting, mobile phones and wi-fi routers emit microwaves all the time and we are exposed to them. Here is a link to an interesting movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAnrmJ3un1g
     
  4. Jun 23, 2012 #3
    oops, that was my mistake in typing. I meant longer wavelengths meaning less energy, not shorter wavelengths.
    So are microwave waves just as harmful as any other ol' cellphones and computers are to us? People caution you when you are pregnant not to go near microwaves, etc... but it is not any specifically dangerous compared to our other everyday electric machines?
     
  5. Jun 23, 2012 #4

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    The issue with a microwave oven is that the intensity of the microwaves is VERY high. My microwave does 1,250 watts when cooking. That is about equal to the total amount of power received from the Sun in a square meter. Pack all that into something like a a pot pie or a hot pocket and you can see how we can cook something very quickly in the microwave. Also, unlike sunlight, microwaves don't reflect off of food or your hand for that matter. And on top of that, the power received from the Sun includes ALL wavelengths, not just the visible. Pretty much all of these are unable to penetrate your skin and will simply heat your skin, which is easily capable of dissipating the heat. After all, you do feel your skin get hot when you go outside in the middle of the day and stand in the Sunlight. But since this is being spread out over a large portion of your skin and clothing much of it just gets absorbed by the air and not into your body. Microwaves would penetrated and cook the inside of your body, which cannot dissipate heat into the air, but into more of the body itself.
     
  6. Jun 23, 2012 #5

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    With the door closed and properly shielding, like all commercial microwave ovens are, you are perfectly safe.
     
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