Home » For centuries, scientists have speculated about Archimedes’ death ray. At just 13 years old, this student created a miniature version

For centuries, scientists have speculated about Archimedes’ death ray. At just 13 years old, this student created a miniature version

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For centuries, scientists have speculated about Archimedes’ death ray.  At just 13 years old, this student created a miniature version

High School Student Recreates Archimedes’ Death Ray

Brenden Sener, a 13-year-old student from London, Ontario, has won two gold medals and an award from the London Public Library for his recreation of Archimedes’ infamous invention, the death ray. The death ray, a supposed weapon of war composed of a large series of mirrors designed to focus and direct sunlight towards a target, has been a subject of speculation among scientists for hundreds of years.

Sener’s interest in the Greek polymath was sparked during a family vacation in Greece, where he learned about Archimedes’ revolutionary inventions. For his 2022 science project, Sener recreated the Archimedean screw, a device for lifting and moving water. But his curiosity didn’t stop there.

The teenager delved into the mystery of the death ray, an ancient invention that was reportedly used by Archimedes during the siege of Syracuse from 214 to 212 BC. While there is no archaeological evidence of the contraption, many have attempted to recreate the mechanism to see if it could be feasible.

In his experiment, Sener placed a heat lamp in front of four small concave mirrors tilted to direct light onto a target. By adding mirrors, he observed a noticeable increase in temperature at the focal point. Sener’s findings suggest that the use of mirrors to focus light waves towards a single point could lead to a significant temperature increase.

Cliff Ho, chief scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, praised Sener’s project as an excellent assessment of fundamental processes. While the experiment did not offer anything significantly new to the scientific literature, it provided a confirmation of the first law of thermodynamics.

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Despite the limitations to the viability of the death ray, Sener’s project has been recognized as interesting and well-documented by experts in the field. Thomas Chondros, a retired associate professor who has studied Archimedes and his inventions, believes that Sener’s experimental setup could serve as the basis for a debate among students.

Sener’s mother, Melanie, shared that her son has always been fascinated by history, science, and nature. With aspirations to become a scientist in the future, Sener’s dedication to exploring ancient inventions like the death ray showcases his passion for learning and discovery.

As scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of Archimedes’ inventions, Sener’s innovative project sheds new light on the ancient technology and its potential applications in modern science.

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