Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Archimedes' Death Ray, Take 2

Earlier this month, I posted “Archimedes’ Death Ray,” about the MIT team trying to replicate Archimedes’ legendary defense of Syracuse, setting fire to ships with polished mirrors.

Now Mythbusters has brought MIT Professor David Wallace to San Francisco to:

…attempt to set fire to an 80-year-old fishing boat with a contraption made of 300 square feet of bronze and glass failed to prove or dispel the myth of the solar death ray.

(From “MIT team seeks to recreate Archimedes fabled death ray in SF.”)

Now, as any fool knows, Sicily, where Syracuse is located, is at 37.5 degrees north, and 15 degrees east. Now, San Francisco is at umm, 37 degrees, 46 minutes north, which means that the sunlight is, well, just about equally intense. So claims that the sunlight would be more intense in Syracuse are going to depend on when the battle of Syracuse took place. And that, I wasn’t able to find.