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FEATURES www iop org journals physed Microwave oven experiments with metals and light sources Michael Vollmer Klaus Peter M llmann and Detlef Karst dt Physikalische Technik Fachhochschule Brandenburg Magdeburger Stra e 50 14770 Brandenburg Germany E mail vollmer fh brandenburg de Abstract Don t put metal objects in the microwave is common safety advice But why Here we describe demonstration experiments involving placing household metallic objects in a microwave oven These allow a better understanding of the interaction of microwaves with materials Light bulbs and discharge lamps can also be used in instructive demonstrations M This article features online multimedia enhancements Introduction The physics of microwave ovens and cooking with microwaves has been the topic of three recent articles 1 3 A selection of demonstrations has already been included in the second and third of these however microwave ovens abbreviated hereafter as microwaves allow a huge variety of other experiments which may serve as lecture demonstrations in the classroom 4 There are also many related websites with images and sometimes video clips e g 5 7 each giving further links Since microwaves are part of many students everyday lives they are a suitable topic to raise and or stimulate interest in physics Many of the experiments can be performed with little additional equipment Some however use a thermal infrared camera 8 to visualize temperature differences in extended objects In order to visualize the processes within a microwave oven we also modified a commercial microwave by replacing part of the door with an infrared transparent window Since part of the metal grid is absent some radiation will leak out For safety reasons a large distance is required between the observers and the camera microwave We have still included some of these experiments 500 PHYSICS EDUCATION 39 6 in order to give an insight into the physics We emphasize that this modified oven should not be rebuilt and experiments



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