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Microwave energy likely made U.S. officials ill

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Microwave energy likely made U.S. officials ill:


A study commissioned by the US State Department has found that “directed” microwave radiation is the likely cause of illnesses among American diplomats in Cuba and China.

What’s the issue?

The health effects were experienced by about two dozen Americans affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba as well as Canadian diplomats and personnel at the U.S. consulate in Guanghzhou, China, in early 2017.

What does the study reveal?

The study found that “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible” explanation for symptoms that included intense head pressure, dizziness and cognitive difficulties.

It found this explanation was more likely than other previously considered causes such as tropical disease or psychological issues.

  • The study, however, did not name a source for the energy and did not say it came as the result of an attack.

What are Microwaves?

Microwaves are defined as electromagnetic radiations with a frequency ranging between 300 MHz to 300 GHz while the wavelength ranges from 1 mm to around 30 cm.

  • They fall between the infrared radiation and radio waves in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Properties of microwaves:

  • Metal surfaces reflect microwaves.
  • Microwaves of certain frequencies are absorbed by water.
  • Microwave transmission is affected by wave effects such as refraction, reflection, interference, and diffraction.
  • Microwaves can pass through glass and plastic.


What are “microwave weapons”?

“Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is the electromagnetic spectrum?
  2. What are microwaves?
  3. Properties.
  4. Applications.
  5. Effects.

Mains Link:

What are chemical weapons? Discuss how they are regulated across the world.

Sources: the Hindu.