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Ben Jones

Oct 19, 2005

MIT Professor Creates DEATH RAY!

Posted in: MIT Facts

Each Wednesday, The Weekly Dig (my favorite rag) hits the newsstands. It's generally a mixture of pop culture and local political coverage with a healthy dose of comedy thrown in. So when I saw a headline about a professor inventing a real DEATH RAY, I didn't figure it would be a real article about MIT. I was wrong. An excerpt:

David Wallace, an MIT mechanical engineering professor, had rediscovered ancient Death Ray technology.
In 212 B.C., the Greek mathematician Archimedes supposedly defended the city of Syracuse from a Roman siege by training a mirror (aka Death Ray) on the approaching ships, setting them aflame. Several years later (September 2004), television

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I read that story recently! is that not awesome?

Posted by: Robb Carr on October 20, 2005

The story that is, not me reading it

Posted by: Robb Carr on October 20, 2005

Yeah... Actually, when I first read the way the Archimides did it, I thought, hey it may well be possible. After all, people are using miniscule versions of the 'death ray' to heat up their food and what not. If you look at this guy's blog:

you'll find in one of his entries the picnic cooker that works on the exact same principle as the death ray. Now that's one cool and *useful* application of the death ray. Way to go, innovation!

Posted by: Eric Asava-Aree on October 20, 2005

National Public Radio (NPR) did a piece on this earlier in the week. (You can listen to the three-minute clip here.) According to the story, the Discovery Channel TV show Myth Busters is bringing a small group of them to San Francisco today to attempt the same experiment under conditions more like what would have been found in Archimedes's time: bronze mirrors rather than glass, boat made of appropriate wood, vessel floating on water (SF Bay) rather than on land... Stay tuned for what may be another chapter!

Posted by: leftcoast mom on October 21, 2005

GRRRR! My links didn't work in my comment! GRRRR!

OK, the NPR audio clip is here:

And the page for the Myth Busters TV show is here:

Posted by: leftcoast mom on October 21, 2005

Thats awesome!! That article is halarious!

Posted by: Josh Wang on October 22, 2005

So the next chapter was written this afternoon, and the myth still is not conclusively proven or dispelled. The MIT team today was able to produce smoldering from 150 feet away, and from 75 feet away ignited a small open flame that burned itself out. The MythBusters folks are leaning towards "myth", but Professor Wallace is not underestimating Archimedes.

Posted by: leftcoast mom on October 22, 2005

... and one MORE local article, this one with more quotes and photos! smile

Posted by: leftcoast mom on October 22, 2005

Hello people, with regrets I inform you that my Math II score is 660. It just came out today. So so long for MIT (me being an Indian and all). Hope to see you guys next year when I have probably better MathII score.

btw,my chem was 730 though.

Posted by: Shikhar on October 24, 2005

Well that article was comparable to articles I have read in my discover magazines, interesting find to prove the mythbusters wrong. It must've taken forever to coordinate all of those mirrors constantly. That's demanding work.

Posted by: Matt Bayer on October 25, 2005

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