Monday, October 24, 2005

Weird News #1 Archimedes' "Death Ray" a Failure

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIn a sort of "friendly fire" competition, researchers from MIT and the University of Arizona attempted to recreate one of the ancient world's most compelling legends.

The story has it that Archimedes saved Syracuse from a sea invasion by a Roman fleet by creating a series of polished surfaces that reflected and concentrated the light from the sun into a sort of "death ray" that set one Roman ship on fire after another.

According to the AP report, the competition took place in San Francisco this past Saturday, October 22. An old, wooden fishing boat was the target.

The Arizona team failed to do anything more than raise the temperature slightly.

From 150 feet away MIT managed some smoldering but no flame.

When the boat was moved to within 75 feet the MIT team actually managed to start a small fire that, unfortunately for history, quickly went out.

One observer summed it up this way, "We're not saying it can't be done. We're just saying it's extremely impractical as a weapon of war."

Before the U.S. war on Iraq I suppose that most folks figured that "IED's" were also "extremely impractical as a weapon of war." I just hope that the "terrorist/insurgents" don't pick up on this "death ray" idea and figure out some way to made something out of it. There is, after all, an ample supply of sunlight at their disposal.