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Cooking for Kids: Easy No-mess Microwave Egg Recipes (EP-14)

What are Microwaves?
Microwave radiation is just one of several categories of electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves transmit energy in the form of alternating cycles of electric and magnetic fields. These fields are referred to as transverse waves because the field moves at right angles to the direction the energy is headed. Electromagnetic waves do not require any material in order to travel so they can travel through the emptiness of outer space. And all forms of electromagnetic radiation travel at the same speed, 300,000,000 m/s. The are several basic categories of electromagnetic radiation: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet light and x-rays/ gamma rays. Before anyone hulks-out over gamma rays being different than microwaves and ultraviolet light, the terms light, waves, radiation, and rays are pretty much interchangeable when discussing the types of electromagnetic waves. In fact you would be equally correct calling all of them electromagnetic waves, electromagnetic light, electromagnetic radiation and electromagnetic rays. Each has a slightly different emphasis and draws attention to a slight different attribute but those attributes are common to all of them. The main difference between the groups of electromagnetic waves is the time it takes to radiate a complete cycle. The number of waves per second radiated by a source is referred to as frequency and for waves like radio waves and microwaves it is much lower than for x-rays and gamma rays. The source could be the sun, a radio tower, an x-ray machine or even a radioactive rock. But what makes the x-ray machine and radioactive rock more dangerous than the radio tower and microwave oven is the frequency. Albert Einstein discovered that the energy of any wave is equal to Plank's constant multiplied by the wave's frequency. In other words high frequency waves like x-rays carry much more energy than low frequency waves like microwaves. In fact, microwaves have lower frequencies and energies than the visible light coming from your light bulb.

Why Do Microwaves Cook Food?
The reason microwaves, and not visible light, cook your food is that food just doesn't find your light to be so exciting. You may be fascinated by the light emitted from fireworks and laser shows, but your food can't see it. On the other hand, food must contain water to heat up in microwaves and that is because the water molecule length corresponds similarly to the microwave length. As microwaves travel by the water molecule it causes the molecule to vibrate back and forth. This is because microwaves are traverse waves (the 90 degree wave thing) and because water is partially charged on each end. The result is that the water in your food starts moving around and the faster it moves around the hotter your food gets. Pretty cool, right? But although they heat up water, they are not themselves high energy waves.

Are Microwaves Safe For Cooking?
Like your food, you are mostly made up of water and that's why the microwave oven does not turn on until the door is closed. Evidence from a study in England indicates that cell phone radiation (microwaves) may cause temperature changes in your skin and brain. The researchers contend that there may be danger associated with the repeated heat up and cool down of excessive cell phone use. This data has not been been repeated and there is not conclusive proof that cell phone (microwave) radiation causes bodily harm. After all, we would not expect you to get really sick from alternating sips of hot cocoa and ice cream... Wait a minute... Ouch!... Brain freeze. Ok, maybe it's not such a great thing. But as far as cooking with microwaves goes, here's a quick homeschool experiment worth trying. Place a cup of water near (on the outside) of your microwave while cooking. Place a thermometer in the cup and watch for any temperature change while you cook your food. Noticeable temperature changes indicate that microwaves are coming through the oven and heating your water. This, however, does not mean your microwave eggs are unhealthy. The health of your eggs is only related to the health of the mama chicken and her diet. Heating your eggs with microwaves does nothing to change the chemical make-up of your food any differently than heating them in a conventional oven. But if your water glass is heating up outside of the microwave, however, it might mean is there is something defective about the casing inside your oven and you might not want to stand so close when cooking.

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Date: 10/25/2019