We are living in a world surrounded by radiation in many forms. Wi-Fi, cellular data, and numerous radio waves are all around us, and we have been living in increased exposure ever since these technologies came out. Although there is no scientific proof to suggest that these waves have harmful effects on the body since their energy levels are low, and the wavelength is quite large, many warn that prolonged exposure can result in some damage to human cells even if we aren’t able to prove it yet. Also, there are appliances like the microwave that operate on higher energy levels, and if they are leaking radiation, it will definitely prove harmful for us. This video from San Diego-based Youtuber Physics Girl shows how you can find out whether your microwave is radiation proof or not.
First, we need to understand how a microwave is able to contain all the microwaves inside. The casing is supposed to be a Faraday cage which is basically a mesh to block electromagnetic waves from entering or leaving the microwave when it’s hatch is closed. When they are manufactured, the microwave ovens are tested to be a good Faraday cage but as time goes by, their locking mechanism can be damaged and as a result, some radiation might be able to leak outside the oven. Now how do we find out whether it is fulfilling its purpose or not? Luckily there is a simple way to do that.
Mobile data also operates at a somewhat similar frequency. Microwaves operate at 2.45 GHz and mobile phone radio waves are 1.9 GHz or 0.85 GHz. So, if the microwave is not fully sealed, not only mobile data but also Wi-Fi signals can pass through it. When the microwave is used, it can also be demonstrated in the lab that tiny amounts of radiation are leaking from it. The Physics Girl doesn’t stop there and demonstrates a perfect Faraday Mesh in her lab that clouds any kind of radio signals from entering the chamber. Hacker Samy Kamkar also gets involved and shows us how calls cannot be taken in such a mesh.
Different countries have varying levels of microwave safety laws. The UK follows the USA in this matter and regulates a maximum of 1mW/cm2 radiation leakage for new microwaves and 5mW/cm2 for older ones. Physics girl concludes that with age, the microwave’s ability to hold electromagnetic waves inside will be diminished so don’t attempt to use it for longer periods of time than advised. If you have a liking towards it, get its hatch fixed and you can confirm it by this handy old trick.