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A 13-year-old built Archimedes’ death ray

Published Jun 19th, 2024 8:24PM EDT
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Thousands of years ago, Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes posited that a death ray could be created to harness the power of the Sun. Now, a 13-year-old student in Canada has put the ancient inventor’s idea to the test, proving that you can actually build Archimedes’ death ray.

The student responsible for the feat is 13-year-old Brenden Sener of London, Ontario. Sener told Popular Mechanics that he became enthralled by the concepts from Ancient Greece after a family vacation to Greece. He’s since created a working prototype of the concept, and even published a paper on the death ray in the Canadian Science Fair Journal.

Sener says that while no archaeological evidence of Archimedes’ death ray has ever been found, he believes it may have been used as it has been described in the books of ancient philosophers. To see if the concept was plausible, Sener built a system made up of a heat lamp and several mirrors. He found that each mirror he added raised the temperature of the redirected light.

The idea of the much larger concept is that ancient Greeks used the death ray to protect their homes from invading Roman ships, such as in the battle of Syracuse from 214 to 212 BC. These ancient death rays may have included massive mirrors, or they may have used highly polished shields, which redirected the light and energy from the sun at their targets.

If you watch Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, then you can see the idea in action near the end of the movie. Of course, without any archaeological evidence, it’s impossible to say whether that’s actually true. Still, there’s no doubt that Archimedes’ death ray was a plausible creation that could have been used by ancient Greeks several thousand years ago.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.