Putting Science To Work

Sometimes the greatest inventions are the ones with the most mundane uses. These ideas quickly found their way into everyday life

MICROWAVE OVEN

Percy Spencer didn't know better than to bring candy with him into his microwave lab in 1946. When the American engineer, who was developing radar components for the Raytheon Corp., let his chocolate bar get too close to a piece of equipment, it turned into chocolate goo.

Cooking would never be the same. Within a year, Raytheon had introduced the first commercial microwave oven--a clunky, 750-lb. thing that required plumbing to prevent overheating but that managed nonetheless to do the job: heat food by electromagnetically stimulating the water, fat and sugar molecules within it. It was 20 years...

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