Science Questions

How practical would it be to use a giant microwave to scan underneath a vehicle?

Sun, 24th Jan 2010

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Question

John, Colchester asked:

How practical would it be to use a massive microwave effectively mounted on the top of a vehicle and beamed down 2 gigahertz or 1 kilowatt energy in front of the vehicle, in order to make sure that there was nothing lurking underground in front of it?

Answer

We posed this question to Dr Bill Proud...

The vehicles are generally moving along the road at some speed, say 30 miles an hour. The article you’re trying to cause to explode is buried underground so you have to make sure that the waves can actually reach into the explosive, and all of this has got to happen in the millisecond or so that you've got in front of the vehicle.  So you need a huge amount of power and you can't mount that much power and drive it down the road, basically baking the road in front of you to the required temperature.  Also, think about what would happen to the wildlife and the general ecology around us as we’re sending out that much power.

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