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12-year-old boy proves Archimedes' famous Death Ray as a plausible reality with his experiments

This 12-year-old boy shocked the scientific community with his tabletop version of Archimedes' Death Ray.

12-year-old boy proves Archimedes' famous Death Ray as a plausible reality with his experiments
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Matthews Hall

Studying history is both a challenging and interesting pursuit. There is a treasure trove of information, but sometimes it is covered in a thin veil of fantasy. And some historical claims seem downright outrageous. One of them is "Archimedes' Death Ray." As historical documents claim, the setup was used by Archimedes to burn ships sent by the enemies. People have tried to replicate the methodology to check whether it is a myth or a reality. Unfortunately, the results have turned out to be inconclusive. Recently, a 12-year-old boy, Brenden Sener built a scaled-down version of the Death Ray for his science project, and proved that the system had a scientific basis, per IFL Science.

Image Source: An illustration showing sun rays and a mirror used to set fire to Roman ships at Syracuse. Kircher explored and illustrated the burning mirror purportedly developed by Archimedes in 214 B.C.
Image Source: An illustration showing sun rays and a mirror used to set fire to Roman ships at Syracuse. Kircher explored and illustrated the burning mirror purportedly developed by Archimedes in 214 B.C. (Getty)

Lucian, a Greek Historian, revealed in his documents that the Death Ray was utilized by Archimedes on Roman ships that tried to invade the country. These systems allegedly burnt up the entire ship in no time. Not only the Death Ray but several other inventions were put to use by Archimedes for defense, such as the Claw, which supposedly lifted the ships from the sea and then dropped them from a great height. While the jury is still out on Claw, Sener has proven that Death Ray could work in real circumstances through his workings. It is huge as the setup in the past has been rejected as fiction by many scholars, including the famous French philosopher René Descartes. To be able to back it up as scientific at such a young age speaks volumes about his intellect. He recorded his findings in a CSF journal.



 

Before Sener's experiment, MIT scholars also did their own set of experiments and concluded in their report that the Death Ray could set a ship ablaze in 11 minutes. To create his version, Sener used a series of concave mirrors and LED desk lamps. His workings showed him that when reflectors focused a 50-watt heat source on a piece of cardboard, the temperature of the focal point increased by 2°C (3.6°F) every time a mirror was added. On the fourth addition, the temperature jumped by 8°C (14.4°F). After that, he increased the lamp's power to see if there were any changes in the result. He used a 100-watt lamp and found that "the change in temperature with each mirror was 4°C [7.2°F] up to 3 mirrors and an additional 10°C [18°F] with the 4th mirror."

Image Source: Circa 220 BC, Illustration of Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes, (c. 287- 212 BC), surrounded by armored soldiers who direct mirrors at invading Roman warships. An invention of Archimedes, the mirrors focus the sun's rays to burn the warships. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Image Source: Circa 220 BC, Illustration of Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes, (c. 287- 212 BC), surrounded by armored soldiers who direct mirrors at invading Roman warships. An invention of Archimedes, the mirrors focus the sun's rays to burn the warships. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

"Based on my experimental findings, I agree with the MIT group and believe that with a strong enough heat source and larger, multiple mirrors all focused at a perfect angle, combustion could be possible," writes Sener. Through his experiment, he understood that there is a plausibility the setup could work, but no real-life recreations have still been done of it and the only mention of it being "functional" comes from the books of ancient philosophers. It is vital to have evidence of this setup working on a large scale, as the parameters involved in those scenarios are vastly different. The in-depth analysis impressed luminaries all around the world. Brenden walked out with honors like the Matthews Hall Annual Science Fair Gold Medal, the Physical Sciences Thames Valley Science and Engineering Fair Gold Medal and the London Public Library Award for Inspiring Children's Interests in Science and Technology.

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