“Armchair sociologists like to ponder the distance between military and civilian life. In the tech world, at least, they’re not so far apart. Innovations that began with the U.S.’ well-funded defense establishment almost always filter down into commercial, mundane usage. Sometimes in unexpected ways. Here are some of our favorite examples:
Microwave Oven. The origins of the microwave are even freakier than this ’60s-era mockup of a hanging heat lamp that fried your bacon. Percy Spencer, an engineer with the defense giant Raytheon, thought he was building magnetron for radar sets. Suddenly he discovered his pants were a sticky mess. A Mr. Goodbar he kept in his pocket had melted from the heat emitted from his active radar set. From that embarrassing accident came a multimillion dollar industry — and one of the great twin blessings and curses of the American kitchen.”
A suppressed century-old technology may come back to life. Tesla’s wireless electricity gets a new chance, and we can thank wars for it:
“The push for wireless power is a problem born of an increasingly technology-equipped military. GIs in the field lug a lot of handheld electronic gadgetry — about five to ten pounds of just battery weight, according to Darpa. On top of that, the Defense Department keeps coming up with ideas for yet more portable electronic gear, from Android-based smart phones to universal translators. All that gear needs juice to keep going on long missions. If troops are out on patrol, they can’t just find a convenient socket to stop and plug in. Darpa’s hoping its wireless power system can prove a solution to energy needs in the field without adding a tangled mess of charger cords.
Wireless power transmission may sound like Tesla-inspired science fiction, but the technology behind it isn’t that exotic.”
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Although Tesla’s invention taps into unlimited free source of power (the only cost being a transmitter and receiver), you can exect to pay for it through the nose.