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A miracle of modern science, I have always been everywhere.

My cancerous cousin foments mistrust, but I promise not to linger.

Wartime genesis gives way to peaceful delights. But do not cross me, for I can make water explode.

I shine bright, but you can never see me.

I'm mathematically precise, yet everything is a guessing game – and I think 75 is more than 100!

What am I?

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  • $\begingroup$ It was in the riddle sandbox... $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Sep 2 '16 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Areeb I had posted it to the site, then I was told to put it in the sandbox, so I did. Then it made it through the sandbox but then I was told the sandbox has been discontinued anyway. $\endgroup$ – fluffy Sep 2 '16 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @fluffy right! That's where I saw it $\endgroup$ – Areeb Sep 2 '16 at 23:12
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Here's my answer:

microwave oven (initially I thought the answer was simply microwaves, but the title ("child of the atomic age") and the last clue ("I think 75 is more than 100") lead me to think the correct answer is the oven.

A miracle of modern science, I have always been everywhere.

Microwave radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum (though not exploited by scientists until the first half of the 20th century).

My cancerous cousin foments mistrust, but I promise not to linger.

Other radiation can cause cancer, but microwaves are safe (supposedly).

Wartime genesis gives way to peaceful delights.

The modern microwave oven was developed from radar technology used in World War II.

But do not cross me, for I can make water explode

People have gotten getting seriously burned by trying to boil water in their microwave, and then when they remove the container from the oven, the water explodes in their face because it got superheated. See https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/exploding-water-in-the-microwave/

I shine bright, but you can never see me

You can't see the microwaves. "Shine bright" might mean the light bulb inside the oven, but I'm not sure about this.

I'm mathematically precise, yet everything is a guessing game – and I think 75 is more than 100!

On some microwave ovens, entering a cook time of 75 means 75 seconds, while entering a cook time of 100 means 1 minute 00 seconds (i.e. 60 seconds).

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the 100 vs 75 clue is kinda weak, I mean if you entered it in the same way for both, 100 would be greater $\endgroup$ – Areeb Sep 3 '16 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Areeb I get your point but some do work this way. I clarified my explanation and removed the colon. $\endgroup$ – bigdavy Sep 3 '16 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ Got it. :) The "shine bright" is because of the actual amount of EM flux that they emit (which is quite formidable). The "I have always been everywhere" was specifically in reference to the cosmic microwave background but your explanation works too. :) $\endgroup$ – fluffy Sep 3 '16 at 6:59
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So, I'm gonna go with

xrays

Well, chiefly because of this:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/24/11759864/water-droplet-explosion-laser-footage

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  • $\begingroup$ You're on the right track! $\endgroup$ – fluffy Sep 2 '16 at 23:11

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