微波爐的發明 爆米花不可缺少

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微波爐的發明 爆米花不可缺少

無論是在家裡、公司、便利商店,微波爐(microwave oven)隨處可見,它為緊湊忙碌的生活帶來便利性(convenience),亦可幫你微波爆米花(popcorn),有趣的是,發明微波爐的人就是拿爆米花測試。以下文章就來揭開微波爐的發明過程!

Born in 1894 in the small town of Howland, Maine, Percy Spencer was orphaned at an early age. After his father died and his mother abandoned him, Spencer was raised by a poor aunt and uncle. Unable to complete elementary school, he joined a mill as an apprentice at the age of 12, and later became a self-taught electrician. In 1912, Spencer joined the U.S. Navy, where he was trained as a radio operator. To make up for his lack of education, he read math and science textbooks while standing watch.

一八九四在緬因州豪蘭鎮出生的波西史班瑟,從小是個孤兒。在父親去世,母親拋棄他以後,他由貧窮的嬸嬸及叔叔撫養。史班瑟沒辦法讀完小學,於是在十二歲時進入一家磨坊當學徒,後來成為一位自學的電工。一九一二年,史班瑟加入美國海軍,在此被訓練為無線電操作員。為了彌補所受教育的不足,他在站崗時念數學和自然教科書。

In the late 1920s, Spencer joined the growing Raytheon company in Massachusetts, where he soon became an expert on vacuum tubes, a key component of early radios. During WWII, the company’s focus switched to another kind of radio: radar. Raytheon won a government contract to produce magnetrons—high-powered vacuum tubes that generate microwaves for radar, and Spencer increased production from 17 a day to over 2,600 by the end of the war. But it was after the war that he had his eureka moment. One day while standing next to a magnetron, Spencer had a strange feeling, and noticed that the candy bar in his pocket was melting. He quickly sent for a bag of popcorn, which began popping away when placed in front of the magnetron. The microwave oven was born.

在一九二○年代晚期,史班瑟加入了位於麻波州正在擴張的瑞錫恩公司,在此他很快就成為真空管專家,也就是早期無線電的一種重要組件。二次大戰期間,該公司的重心轉移到另一種無線電:雷達。瑞錫恩公司拿下政府的合約來製造磁控管--一種為雷達微波的高能量真空管,而且到戰爭結束時,史班瑟已將產量由一天十七個提高到二千六百個。不過,他靈光乍現的時刻是在戰後。有一天他站在磁控管旁邊,察覺有一絲異樣,發現口袋裡的巧克力棒融化了。他馬上要來一袋爆米花,爆米花放在磁控管前就劈哩啪啦爆開來。微波爐就此誕生。

The first commercial model—the Radar Range—was the size of a refrigerator and cost $5,000. No wonder it was used mostly in restaurants. When smaller, cheaper home models were introduced in the 1960s, the market for these fast cooking ovens took off. Today, microwave ovens can be found in over 90% of American homes.

第一部量產的微波爐--「雷達爐」,尺寸有冰箱那麼大,而且要價五千美元,難怪當時大多使用於餐館。等到尺寸較小、較便宜的家用微波爐在一九六○年代問世後,這種快速烹調爐在市場上大受歡迎。如今,美國有超過九成的家庭都有微波爐。

【實用字彙】
orphan (v.) 使成為孤兒
elementary (a.) 基本的,初級的,基礎的,elementary school 即「小學」
self-taught (a.) 自學的
electrician (n.) 電工
make up for (phr.) 彌補,補償
watch (n.) 守衛,看守,stand watch即「站崗」
generate (v.) 產生(光、熱、電能等)
take off (phr.) 起飛,蔚為風潮,大受歡迎

 

本文取材自《EZTalk總編嚴選:改變人類生活的創意發明Eureka!

圖片來源:pixabay

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