This 13-year-old created an Archimedes death ray in class

Brenden Stener, 13, reproduced a miniature version of the mythical death ray, said to have been imagined by Archimedes 2,000 years ago. On the program, a powerful light source and mirrors.

What did you do in college? The young Canadian Brenden Stener, aged 13, tried to reproduce a death ray for a school project. It is more precisely the famous Archimedes ray.

2,000 years ago, during Antiquity, the Greek scientist Archimedes had the idea of ​​using several mirrors to destroy the enemy Roman fleet advancing towards Syracuse. Destruction by radiation — hence the name laser. By pointing a mirror at the Sun, then bouncing light from mirror to mirror toward a single target, the intended point would be heated intensely. Increased heat means overheating and therefore conflagration; the Roman ships led by General Marcus Claudius Marcellus would thus have fallen into ashes.

Brenden's model of Archimedes' possible configuration of the death ray.  // Source: Stener family/Business Insider
Brenden’s model of Archimedes’ possible configuration of the death ray. // Source: Stener family/Business Insider

Several inventors throughout history have tried to reproduce the principle without much success. Since Descartes, in the 17th century, who considered that it was not possible in this configuration, skepticism remains in the majority regarding the veracity of this event.

Small laser, big inventor

But now the young Brenden Stener has reproduced a miniature version. “ This is just a smaller version, as close to the real thing as possible », he confides to Business Insider, who reports on this extraordinary school project. This is not the first time that the young boy has tried to reproduce an invention of Archimedes – by which he is fascinated. He has extensively documented himself.

His scale model is made up of heating lamps (which replace the Sun), facing concave mirrors. These are pointed towards a target marked with an X. Result? The temperature of the X, measured using an infrared thermometer, increases enormously during the operation. With each new mirror added, the temperature rises further — in total, the target has risen to more than 50 degrees Celsius.

Archimedes' death laser, scale model.  // Source: Business InsiderArchimedes' death laser, scale model.  // Source: Business Insider
Archimedes’ death laser, scale model. // Source: Business Insider / Stener family

If we scaled up and had a sufficiently powerful heat source, it would be entirely possible » to set it on fire, the young boy told Business Insider.

This does not prove the Archimedean laser is true — unlike this model, destroying ships at long range, in motion and located at sea is a much greater challenge. Regardless, Stener’s school project attracted so much attention that it won a science prize delivered by the London Public Library.

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