solar deathray
March 23, 2005 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Gehry should have seen this.
posted by tellurian at 6:14 PM on March 23, 2005

That guy is a Bond villian in the making.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2005


The sun is bright. Don’t look at the sun or you will damage your
eyes. Anything that focuses the sun will only make it more
dangerous. The Solar Death Ray is dangerous. Don’t build one.
I’m surprised I haven’t burnt or blinded myself yet. The fumes
from molten plastic can’t be good either. Don't play with fire.

posted by schyler523 at 6:20 PM on March 23, 2005

Without doubt this is the highlight of the site.

Hint: alcohol sometimes incapacitates the troll at the entrance to the castle containing "The Castle of Girls I Don't Know."
posted by schyler523 at 6:23 PM on March 23, 2005


On the contrary to looking at the sun.

I know the gentleman who developed the site to which I've linked and also inconsistently participate in the sun gazing practice.

The challenge is to prove that sun does any damage, especially irreparable damage, to your eyes.
posted by mic stand at 6:25 PM on March 23, 2005

cf: 'Magnifying Glass', which can also heat things to the point at which paper burns in a solary sort of way
posted by Sparx at 6:28 PM on March 23, 2005

wow...not only did I comment on a castle within a castle, but now i can look at the sun. woohoo!
posted by schyler523 at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2005

That segmented, parabolic solar death ray thingy is the main reason why I've always wanted one of the giant fresnel lenses from Edmund Scientific. The 31" by 41" inch one is the one I'm talking about, part no. NT46-572.

I distinctly remember the text description from their old paper catalog containing the phrases "WARNING! NOT A TOY!" and "Melts asphalt in seconds!" and the similar ominous warnings of destruction, which was more than enough to make any nerd-kid shiver with anticipation.

I realized it was the closest I would likely ever get to owning a portable death-ray or cutting laser or something like it. Can you just imagine the ant carnage? It'd be an ant apocalypse! An ant-sized Hiroshima!

On a more constructive note, I bet it wouldn't be too hard to make a solar furnace/smelter with a couple of those fresnels, capable of smelting at least aluminum to a liquid suitable for casting.
posted by loquacious at 6:48 PM on March 23, 2005

This. Is. Hot.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2005

His description of Hootie and the Blowfish had me rolling. Reprinted for your pleasure.

"I'm not a fan of Hootie and the Blowfish. Their
music seems pretty well designed to not offend
people, so I can't really say anything
derogatory about it. It's sort of like a noble gas,
just filling space, not affecting the listener. But
Hootie isn't one of the fun noble gasses, like
Neon or Helium. On the periodic table of music,
I'd put Hootie as the equivalent of Argon,
making up roughly 1% of the musical
posted by lazaruslong at 7:06 PM on March 23, 2005

"9:13, Personal note: When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun. So once when I was six, I did."

Now with 112 times the headache!

And what loquacious said about the smelter. I'd love to turn it on one of the mints and dance (oh so carefully) in a puddle of nickels.
posted by zerokey at 7:28 PM on March 23, 2005

I want to point that thing at a solar-powered calculator and see if the power surge makes it say anything profound before it goes to the great accounting office in the sky.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:30 PM on March 23, 2005

"His first effort, a clumsy home-made wood device, only worked when the target was placed in a specific position five and a half feet away. It would be several years before he had refined his device into the weapon we are now familiar with. Had we but known the importance of those first experiments, St. Louis and Minneapolis might still be inhabited today."
posted by QuietDesperation at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2005

This would be a useful tool in Ant City.
posted by Wet Spot at 8:06 PM on March 23, 2005


I go to all that trouble to build one that was 20' tall, with 300 mirrors, and his works better than mine. Damn!
Now I wish I'd had more than 3 days to do it.
Oh well... Next time.
posted by asavage at 9:49 PM on March 23, 2005 [2 favorites]

Have any pics, asavage? I would imagine a 20'-30' segmented parabolic would be at least a couple of orders of magnitude more difficult to align then the quite rigid looking design he has going there, and those pre-mitered blocks probably help a lot too.

I could see a geodesic solution with the right frequency and order of mesh and some creative modular inserts that would map a more parabolic arc for the mirrors to follow.

Besides producing silly amounts of destructive kinetic energy, homebrew open source solar collectors could be quite constructive and useful, especially as the material sciences advance.

You could easily heat (and even vaporize) water - or another liquid with a lower phase-change threshhold - with even a rather rudimentary solar collector.

He could probably push a decent small turbine with that one and an efficient boiler, and even put the heated water output back into use in a home, heating floors or radiators and/or feeding into the hot water circuit after it produced rotational energy for a generator or pump or something.

I know there's been solar water heaters for decades, but it just seems like it was never applied very well on the single-home scale. I guess there was a bit of profiteering and shoddy workmanship, and perhaps a bit of an image not unlike the waterbed industry from the same era.

Anyone know of any open source DIY alternative energy sites? EnergyForge? FreshJuice?
posted by loquacious at 1:40 AM on March 24, 2005

I had a 13" Fresnel lens when I was in 8th grade or so. It was mounted in a frame with a little holder at the focal point. I took it to school one day for a science fair, and, boy, was I popular!
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:33 AM on March 24, 2005

loquacious, these's aren't exactly "DIY", but the idea is reasonably simple and sound: Stirling engine power generators. There was a good article at EETimes about these systems. The only problem is that there aren't a lot of places that are highly effective collection zones in North America (basically the Arizona/Nevada area). But they're talking commercial.
posted by lowlife at 7:52 AM on March 24, 2005

Brilliant. My inner supervillain is plotting, green with envy.
posted by Shane at 9:48 AM on March 24, 2005

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