10/18/2012: An Invention to Reconsider

The U.S. Patent Law describes an invention as “a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognized as the product of some unique intuition or genius.” Naturally, most individuals perceive inventions as significant technological advancements for society. Despite the conveniences, can there ever be such an invention that has a contradictory impact on the general public?

In 1955, Percy Spencer, an American engineer, introduced the microwave oven for sale in America for general home use in order to reheat previously cooked food. It is a common misconception to associate Spencer as the inventor of the microwave oven since scientists from Nazi Germany initially developed this product in order to prepare meals for soldiers at a mass scale while invading Russia during World War II. Besides efficiently preparing food, microwave radiation was also applied in military radar installations during World War II to detect the speed and range of enemy aircraft bombers.

Although microwave technology has a vast amount of convenient benefits, most people disregard the health hazards associated with microwave ovens. For instance, electromagnetic radiation emitted from microwave ovens is a form of man-made ionizing radiation that has enough energy to alter the DNA in cells by separating electrons from atoms. Russian researchers claim how microwaving food causes the formation of d-Nitrosodienthanolamines, which are carcinogenic amino acids. Furthermore, continued investigations report how microwaving degrades the quality of food. For example, studies have proven a decrease in availability of nucleo-proteins, vitamin B, C, and E as a result of using microwave ovens. In addition, microwave sickness has been discovered and defined to include headaches, dizziness, eye pain, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, stomach pain, reproductive problems, and heart disease. What is more, the formulation of carcinogenic chemicals in food may lead to an increasing amount of lymphatic disorders, cancer cell production, stomach and intestinal cancers, and digestive disorders.

Society should reconsider the usage of microwave ovens in order to preserve their own health in the long-run. It is fascinating to contemplate how and why the United States simply overlooked the Soviet international health hazard issue of microwave ovens almost 70 years ago.


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