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Posted by John Keller

I gotta hand it to Raytheon Co. They sure know how to spin off technology for a surprising number of uses.

Look at everything Raytheon has done with its pioneering radar technology. First the company -- with help from its famous engineer Percy Spencer and his candy bar -- figured out how to use microwave energy from radar signals to heat food from the inside. VoilĂ ! The microwave oven.

Microwaves also are the basis of nonlethal directed-energy weapons to control crowds. Some folks are even thinking up ways to use microwave energy to heat homes, although this approach has a lot of things to work out before it could be made feasible.

Now it gets even better. Aviation Week and Space Technology reports that Raytheon is starting to sell RF technology to help with crude oil extraction. Reports Av Week:

Raytheon is getting in on the oil boom. The defense electronics company has sold a radio frequency (RF) technology to multinational oil services giant Schlumberger Ltd., which hopes to use it to extract hard-to-reach oil deposits. The technology, developed jointly by Raytheon and CF Technologies, uses RF waves to heat shale underground and cause it to release deposits of thick crude that are known as "heavy" oil.

You realize what this is? Raytheon has found a way to wrap a massive virtual microwave oven around underground oil deposits to heat and liquify the gooey, tar-like crude enough to pump it easily out of the ground. Sure, they also use a lot of interesting chemicals to aid with enhanced oil recovery, but shoving a microwave oven down the well hole is a new one.

This gives a whole new meaning to the term Radarange. Thanks, Raytheon.

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.