Why did my candy bar melt? (And will my popcorn pop?)

MicrowaveChocolateDuring the World War II years, Percy Spencer, a self-taught engineer leading the power tube division at defense contractor Raytheon, focused his efforts on the magnetron—the core tube that made radars so powerful they enabled U.S. bombers to spot periscopes on German submarines. Standing next to a magnetron one day, Spencer noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. He then wondered, Could the energy from the radio waves be used to actually cook food? He placed some popcorn kernels near the tube and soon was munching on the world’s first microwave popcorn. In 1947, Raytheon put the first Radarange microwave ovens on the market—but it took another 20 years before the appliances were small enough to fit on a countertop.

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books on questioning: A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas; its follow-up THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead; and BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry. Warren’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, and he writes the “Questionologist” blog for Psychology Today. He lives in Mount Kisco, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts