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12-year-old makes replica of 2,000-year-old death ray and it actually ended up working

12-year-old makes replica of 2,000-year-old death ray and it actually ended up working

He's helped to settle a centuries-old debate

A 12-year-old boy has helped to settle a centuries-old debate about a ‘death-ray’ supposedly designed in ancient Greece by Archimedes.

Born all the way back in 287 BC, Archimedes of Syracuse is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time - and he wasn’t just good with numbers, he was also a gifted inventor, engineer, physicist and astronomer.

And, according to 2nd century AD Lucian, Archimedes was also the inventor of a death ray that was used to help fend off Roman warships during the Seige of Syracuse in 213-212 BCE.

Archimedes is said to have harnessed the power of sunlight using mirrors, which was then directed at the approaching enemy ships and ultimately set them on fire.

Clever, eh?

However, because it all happened so long ago, there’s no solid evidence that the death ray worked. Plus, greater minds than mine have been debating it for centuries, with some experts insistent the ‘death ray’ never existed.

However, a Canadian school boy called Brendan Sener has managed to make great progress amid the debate, by creating his very own watered-down version of the death ray using mirrors and desk lamps.

A drawing of how Archimedes’ death ray may have looked in action.
Wikipedia Commons

His experiment, which used 50-watt LED bulbs, was able to prove that such a death ray could potentially work.

Sener found that by focussing the light from his lamps on a piece of card, he could raise the temperature by 2C for each additional mirror he added - up to a maximum of three mirrors, while adding a fourth mirror saw an increase of 8C.

Similarly, if he used 100-watt bulbs, he saw an increase in temperature of 4C with each additional mirror, up to three mirrors, with a fourth mirror boosting it by 10C.

Sharing his conclusion in the Canadian Science Fair Journal, the clever kid wrote: “These series of experiments showed that the principle behind the Archimedes Death Ray is certainly possible and hence I accept my original hypotheses that concave mirrors can be used to reflect and concentrate light given off from a light source.

Brendan made a miniaturised version of the death ray.
Canadian Science Fair Journal

"As the number of reflective mirrors increases, so does the temperature of the target.”

He added: “However, for it to function properly and cause combustion of large objects such as wooden ships, it would require a very powerful light source and many large mirrors. The historical descriptions of the use of the Death Ray in ancient Syracuse is plausible, however no archeological evidence of the Archimedes Death ray has been found besides what is recorded in the books of Ancient Philosophers.”

Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Canadian Science Fair Journal

Topics: History, Science, World News