Physics 2000 Einstein's Legacy Microwave Ovens

Microwaves Exert Electric Forces on Water

I can now see that a charge can make a water molecule rotate, but what does this have to do with microwaves?

Microwaves, like other kinds of electromagnetic radiation, consist of electric force fields. If you want to understand more about electromagnetic waves, and the electric forces produced by charged particles click here. If you want to understand the arrow picture of waves (on the right) and its relationship to shaking a charge, click here, then click on classical waves for the advanced student.

But to make the water molecules rotate before, I had to move the charge around.

Moving that charge around changed the electric force field on the water. With microwaves,the electric force field varies up and down as time goes on. We will look at more of the properties of microwaves in answering the question, "Why don't microwaves get out?"
Diagram is not to scale

As I increase the power, the water molecule snaps around faster. And I can see the arrows getting bigger...does that mean the field is getting stronger?

Yes, it does. Now, there's one more important thing we need to talk about...

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