Archimedean Death Ray

2.009 Product Engineering Processes: Archimedes or making the most freaking great science demonstration in a long while. Disproving a busted myth by the Mythbusters, the folks at MIT sensed they may have missed one with the legend of Archimedes and his ray of fire.

The question is basically, can an array of mirrors all concentrating their reflected beams on a single spot of a wooden ship generate enough heat to spontaneously combust the material?

The answer is that it is possible though fairly impractical without an army of highly trained monkeys to aim the mirrors. But man, oh man, how cool would it have been to be on the crew doing this back in the day? Three hundred of you and your pals all aiming mirrors at one spot, in concert, and setting fire to the ship and sinking it.

But I'd bet the archers gave the mirror-corps (no, not mirepoix) quite a hard time for having a weapon that you could also make sure your hair looked good with.

Still, just one minor success with this technique would have been incredibly cool to see. I hope the MIT folks get some video of the sun ray in action.

I first learned about the idea from this thread on MetaFilter which also includes a comment from one member who also happens to be one of the Mythbusters.
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