What are some unintended science inventions in history? by Raymond Martinez
Answer by Raymond Martinez:
Percy Spencer was 18 months old when his father died. His mother soon left him to his aunt and uncle. Eventually, his uncle also died when Spencer was just seven years old. He didn’t finish grammar school; instead tried his hands working at a spool mill. He held this job from the age of 12 until he was 16 years old.
One day he heard about a nearby paper mill that was having some daunting electrical concerns that intrigued him. He tried to learn what he could about the problem with the mill, and somehow became one of three people who were hired to install electricity in the mill, despite no formal education in electrical engineering.
Later on he got interested in wireless communications.
When Spencer turned 18, he decided to join the U.S. Navy where he made himself an expert on radio technology by reading a lot of textbooks on the subject and teaching himself during his night duty. Spencer was very precocious; he even taught himself trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics, and metallurgy, and other subjects.
In 1939, Spencer saw himself as one of the world’s leading experts in radar tube design while working at Raytheon. It is said the company where Spencer worked with had won government contracts to develop and produce combat radar equipment due mainly to his reputation and expertise in the field. The projects they did were of huge importance to the Allied Forces during World War II.
It was at Raytheon when Spencer tried to investigate something strange that happened to his candy bar inside his pocket. While Spencer was working on building magnetrons for radar sets, he was standing in front of an active radar when his candy bar melted in his pocket. At this point he and other colleagues began positioning the magnetron in a manner to direct heat at other food items like popcorn kernels and egg to see if a similar effect would occur.
Needless to say, this accidental melting of his candy bar inside his pocket led Percy Spencer, an orphan and a grammar school dropout, to invent the microwave oven that is used in most households today.