posted on Mar, 3 2004 @ 09:12 PM
Microwave paranoia is overhyped. This website that is being refered to is a typical "natural" health website that uses half-baked science (sorry
about the pun, it was the first metaphor that came to mind) to prove an idea that was already strongly believed before there were any facts to
Part of the paranoia from microwaves can be demonstrated right in this thread: for years, people have called the microwave cooking process "nuking"
the food. This all despite the fact that microwaves (not the kitchen device, the actual waves on the radiant spectrum, which includes visible light,
ultraviolet, radiowaves of many bandwidths, gamma rays, etc.) have nothing in and of themselves to do with nuclear power. We therefore have come to
believe that the process going on inside one of these machines is somehow "radioactive" or something of similarly fearful proportions.
When you direct visible light onto foods and other substances, many of them, particularly those of darker colors, will absorb, rather than "radiate"
the light, causing them to heat up. In a similar way, if you point microwaves (as opposed to say, radiowaves) at a physical substance, some will
absorb it (leftover turkey) and heat up, others will reflect it or let it pass through (ceramic dish). When the molecules of these substances absorb
the microwaves, they are excited as a result, and simple high school physics tells us that when molecules speed up, they heat up. That is all a
microwave does, and it has nothing to do with nuclear (fission) power! Nuclear power involves splitting an unstable isotope of a heavy atom into two
pieces and releasing (rather than absorbing) energy.
The arguments on this website that was the original topic of discussion fall apart in several places. Typically, there is often a way of putting a
convincing spin on science so that it "proves" a point (many "natural" health remedies do this regularly) but to most people it sounds convincing
because they don't have the information to refute it. For example, on the website it talks of the dangers of subjecting food to microwaves, saying
that "The same violent deformations that occur in our bodies, when we are directly exposed to radar or microwaves, also occur in the molecules of
foods cooked in a microwave oven", and it uses this rationale to say that we therefore would do ourselves harm by ingesting this food. However, if we
apply the same rationale to foods cooked in a conventional oven, image the deformations (molecularly and visibly) we would undergo if WE were put in
an oven at 400 degrees for 5 hours (Thanksgiving turkey). The same applies to dehydrating foods (left for months), broiling (radiant heat), or
freezing foods (sub-zero temps.).
All the arguments about chemical changes that foods undergo in a mic. oven are of minimal relevance. Onions caramelize when cooked for 15 minutes in
hot oil, chemically converting parts of its organic composition into sugar. Enzymes in vegetables and fruits break down all the time during the
regular cooking process and even when refrigerated over long periods of time.
The website also talks about the grave dangers of microwaving baby's milk. It is true, but it has absolutely NOTHING to do with some creepy chemical
process. When milk (breast or formula) is allowed to sit, it settles into phases where there are areas of greater density as well as concentrated
pockets of certain molecules. These phases and pockets, because of the physical properties of their molecules, absorb the microwaves more freely, thus
heating quicker than other parts of the milk. If the milk is not mixed thoroughly the cooler areas may lead a parent to believe that the milk is a
suitable temperature for the baby. The baby then ingests a hot spot and scalds the mouth and throat. My wife and I have a 10 month old son and have
read numerous "baby-books". This advice is common knowledge and is presented in most of them.
The website article very quickly jumps right into the nuclear interpretation. It states that radiation is "the electromagnetic waves emitted by the
atoms and molecules of a radioactive substance as a result of nuclear decay" to then jump to the conclusion that somehow nuclear power is involved in
"ionizing" the molecules in the food. This is where the science falls right through the floor, even if we don't get to the next point I'll make.
Nuclear decay involves destable isotopes (not ions, as they suggest) breaking down into more stable atoms on the periodic table. The fact that they
refer to radiation and nuclear decay as "ionization" is the first clear indicator that the person writing the paper does NOT KNOW WHAT THE HECK THEY
ARE TALKING ABOUT, and certainly couldn't have been awake during high school science.
That aside, the real deception isn't the fact that they don't know what they are talking about (that is embarassing, not deceiving), it is the fact
that the used the definition of radiation strictly in the context of NUCLEAR radiation, which is only one type, rather than using the definition of
radiation relating to microwaves, which are two VERY significantly different types. That is just plain bunk, and definitely not an example of someone
using sound science to present factual information.
I'm not throwing away my microwave, but I hardly use it because I like to cook real meals.
They taste better.