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Cold War Radar

Radar Today

Radar has come a long way since its creation and the Second World War.  It is present in many modern day contexts and some of these stem from the Cold War.


As in the Second World War and the Cold War, radar continues to be used in the military. Though there have been improvements since then, it is still used for warning, navigation, and defence much as it was in the Cold War.


Radar today, like in the Cold War, continues to track weather patterns and movements and is used in forecasting.  This is possible because radar can see precipitation and thus severe weather such as storms or tornados.

Police/Speed radar:

A well known use of radar is in tracking speed.  By watching the time the microwave signal takes to travel from the radar to the object and back, the speed can be measured.  This is used both in sports such as tracking baseball speeds, and by the police for writing speeding tickets.


Radar is used in various space endeavors.  It can map planets using Doppler radar or detect objects in space using microwaves.  As well, it is used in satellite communications.

Ground Penetrating Radar:

This use of radar allows for a picture to be given of what lies under the surface of the ground using microwaves.  Archaeologists use this type of radar to find unmarked graves, geologists to look at features underground such as groundwater, and engineers to find things such as cables.  Land-mines can be located this way as well.

Air Traffic Control:

Another familiar use of radar, air traffic control, helps keep track of the objects in the sky and provide information about them such as altitude and speed.  It also watches weather conditions, and can even help land planes when the weather is poor.  Many people would recognize this use from an airport setting.

Microwave oven:

The creation of the magnetron (a piece of technology which helped create smaller radar) during the Second World War actually led to the microwave oven.  Some mechanics learned not to be too close to the objects because they could get burnt.  This was then applied to the idea of a microwave oven, as the energy produces heat which can be used to cook food.  The first microwave oven was actually called the '1161 Radarange' and was made by the Raytheon Corporation.


Cell phones and Nintendo Wiis have a connection to radar as well.  Planar circuits in the 1960s took the magnetron’s energy but made it smaller and cheaper which has allowed for wireless technology.


The magnetron, because it creates microwave radiation, is also used in the fight against cancer as the heat is directed against cancer cells.