Canadian teenager recreates Archimedes' death ray (photo)

Bylim Olena

Canadian teenager recreates Archimedes' death ray (photo)
Archimedes' ray was used to set fire to Roman ships. Source: Parigi, Giulio, Public domain/commons.wikimedia.org

Canadian schoolboy Branden Sener decided to test whether Archimedes could set fire to Roman ships using mirrors. Sener built a miniature model of a "death ray" with heating lamps and mirrors.

He found that the setup significantly increased the temperature of the target, suggesting that Archimedes' idea might not have been so fantastic after all. However, Sener notes that setting the ships on fire would have required significantly more mirrors and a more powerful heat source, ScienceAlert writes.

Canadian teenager recreates Archimedes' death ray (photo)
Athanasius Kircher made an engraving showing how Archimedes' burning mirrors could have been used. Source: Bettmann/Getty Images

Other researchers have also tried to recreate Archimedes' "death ray" but with varying degrees of success.

Historians are not sure whether Archimedes used mirrors to burn Roman ships, but Sener's research shows that it is possible.

Canadian teenager recreates Archimedes' death ray (photo)
Science fair project recreating Archimedes' death ray. Source: The Sener family

Scientists and historians point out that Archimedes had other weapons at his disposal that were less demanding and more cost-effective. Some have suggested that Roman ships were burned by steam cannons or incendiary mixtures.

The Greeks may also have used mirrors to blind sailors. Reflective surfaces and boats of fire could have merged in the following centuries, possibly creating the myth of the death ray.

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