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Zap it

Hudson Cooper
Posted 1/21/22

The raging pandemic has taught many of us that it is safer to spend more time at home than mingling with the masses. Science tells us that maintaining distance helps you avoid getting one of the …

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Zap it


The raging pandemic has taught many of us that it is safer to spend more time at home than mingling with the masses. Science tells us that maintaining distance helps you avoid getting one of the varieties of covid. Speaking of which, we have begun naming the virus mutations with letters from the Greek alphabet. That was a decision made by the WHO. So you won’t get fooled again, I am not referring to the rock band with Roger Daltrey as the frontman and Pete Townshend on lead guitar. The WHO, in this case, is the World Health Organization.

The fact that they felt the need to name the covid variants is alarming. I sense that scientists know that unfortunately we are in store for more variants after Omicron. But unlike naming hurricanes with an alphabetical list of people’s names, the WHO uses the Greek alphabet. They have already reduced two available names by eliminating Nu and Xi. Nu was dropped from the list since it sounds exactly like “new” which seemed redundant for a name of a recent variant. Xi was eliminated since it is a very popular surname. Also, Xi was ruled out since it is the name of the leader of China who has ruled for the past ten years. I suppose, if there is another mutation, they will probably shy away from Pi as it conjures up images of Mom’s apple pie.

There are many items that we accumulate to survive during the pandemic. We stock up on masks, hand sanitizers, home test kits and toilet paper. But there is one item that is necessary to help you endure home confinement. I could not exist without my microwave.

Like many items, the microwave oven was a result of an accident. Its history traces back to around 1940 when a British physicist, Sir John Randall, developed a machine called a Magnetron. Although Magnetron sounds like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it was a machine that produced small, electromagnetic waves. These “microwaves” led to the development of radar. Eventually that technology was given to the United States in exchange for our country providing money and equipment to the British during World War II.

Eventually one of the contracts to produce Magnetrons was given to a company named Raytheon. One of their engineers, Percy Spencer, was developing a better radar tube design using microwaves. On a coffee break, he reached into his pocket only to discover that his chocolate bar had melted. Intrigued, he then placed popcorn near the machine and it popped. He eventually took it further by attaching an electromagnetic field generator inside a metal container. By doing so he was able to adjust the microwaves to heat up and cook food. That led to a patent being awarded in 1945 for what was called a microwave oven.

The first public use of the microwave oven occurred in 1947 at Grand Central Station in New York City. There, a Speedy Weenie vending machine dispensed quickly cooked hot dogs. The first microwaves offered for sale to the public were manufactured by Raytheon in 1947. Standing six feet tall, it was a little too cumbersome to heat up hot dogs and popcorn. Besides, with a price tag of $5,000 (about $51,000 in today’s world) few could afford it.

Eventually, the size of the microwave became suitable for use in consumer’s kitchens and the price was affordable. Today about 90% of homes in our country have one in the kitchen.

I use my microwave every day. It allows me to quickly heat up prepared meals that I stored in my refrigerator and freezer. I remove some leftover food from the refrigerator, unwrap it and zap it. That process gives me extra time to surf my cable’s seemingly unending list of channels. Avoiding covid news, I go for a laugh and hunker down to watch an episode of Seinfeld for the hundredth time.


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