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September 27, 2010 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Hottest Spot in Vegas? Vdara hotel features an unintended reflection of the sun that some are calling a "death ray."
posted by Brian B. (48 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
But suddenly, the lawyer became so uncomfortably hot...

Of course it was a lawyer. Of course.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2010


That's some funny copy:

"The solar reflection covers an approximate 10-foot by 15-foot area, which moves as the earth rotates."

Or, as most people put it, "throughout the day".
posted by gurple at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Somebody, somewhere, must name their band Las Vegas Death Ray. Must.
posted by ardgedee at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Too bad they didn't try a little harder and make a solar generator out of it.
posted by pracowity at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like somebody... *puts on sunglasses* couldn't take the heat.

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by kmz at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2010 [46 favorites]


Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to continue the broadcast from Grovers Mill. Evidently there's some difficulty with our field transmission. However, we will return to that point at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, we have a late bulletin from San Diego, California. Professor Indellkoffer, speaking at a dinner of the California Astronomical Society, expressed the opinion that the explosions on Mars are undoubtedly nothing more than severe volcanic disturbances on the surface of the planet. We now continue with our piano interlude.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]




Calgary has a building like this going up. A nice south-westward-facing parabolic curve with mirrored windows focussing on the downtown core.

I thought about going back in a year to look for the charred arc across the streets of downtown Calgary created by the path of the focussed sunlight.
posted by Aquaman at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2010


"It's basically a glare," said one."

that about sums it up...

Reflective glass reflects sun. Video at 11.
posted by HuronBob at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2010


Not the first time this has happened.

Mentioned in the article:

In 2004, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about the hall, below the headline, "Disney venue reflects badly on downtown."

Great title, LA Times
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


ACK ACK ACK!
posted by The Whelk at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it possible a similar phenomenon is currently cooking my house? Also: let's make sure the space elevator we'll surely build in a hundred years isn't coated in architecturally interesting glass, hm?
posted by incessant at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2010


Anywhere you have fast growth and a competition for eye-catching architecture you get stupid mistakes, you see this a lot in the developing world. But when your building ends up as a parabolic reflector focused on the swimming pool area, well, it would be hysterically funny if it weren't so pathetic. (Or is that a false dillemma?)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:41 PM on September 27, 2010


Somebody, somewhere, must name their band Las Vegas Death Ray. Must.

Viva L'American Death Ray Music!
posted by vibrotronica at 1:47 PM on September 27, 2010


What's really unfortunate is that Las Vegas has such mild weather that one hot, sunny spot will be a shocking contrast. I imagine that people will suddenly be reluctant to go to Las Vegas if they find out there's a risk that they might end up at a hotel swimming pool where it's miserably hot all the time.
posted by The World Famous at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was inspecting a project in construction in Southern California a few years ago, when I walked through an uncomfortable hot spot - it was the thermal reflective glass on the second floor condo windows. Just flat glass, and only about four square feet, but it was plenty hot. I can imagine that a curved surface could really cook you.

I was pleasantly surprised to read that the architects had foreseen this; disappointed that they relied on some snake oil magic film* instead of just designing it differently. Of course there are site constraints, and the plans were probably almost finished when someone pointed it out, so redesigning wasn't necessarily a feasible option**.

* I am sure the film works as advertised; I think that if you scatter light uniformly across a surface, the scattered light still has to go somewhere. Like onto a lawyer's recently installed hair plugs.

** It is always feasible to redesign things before they are built, in a perfect world. That's why we draw the plans on paper before building the damn things. In the real world, try being the architect who has to explain to the developer why the two year long design process has to be scrapped, restarted, and of course paid for, all over again.

posted by Xoebe at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think they're going the wrong way with this. They should remove the magic film from the windows and hit that pool area with the awesome power of this fully functional death ray.

I'd pay to see that.
posted by gurple at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll bet the bathers are really small when viewed from the top of the Vdara. Like ants on a sidewalk.
posted by bonehead at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


So, what you are saying is that putting a giant parabolic mirror in one of the sunniest places on earth might have exciting consequences?

They should take the sweet spot and turn it into a sun powered BBQ pit.
posted by quin at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You've got to be kidding. If there's one thing we should be able to accurately simulate, it's the heating effects of dropping a parabolic reflector with a certain reflectance curve across various wavelengths in the middle of the Las Vegas sun.

Man. Maybe they only simulated IR, and decided they'd adequately scattered it? Meanwhile, heads up, visible and especially UV will focus *and* burn just fine.
posted by effugas at 2:09 PM on September 27, 2010


Calgary has a building like this going up. A nice south-westward-facing parabolic curve with mirrored windows focussing on the downtown core.

Not to rain on the schadenfreude parade or anything, but in Calgary's case the building - the Bow by name - was designed by Norman Foster, one of the world's foremost green architects. The southwest-facing parabola was expressly designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in a cold climate and maximize natural light in the offices within. The glass won't be mirrored, and there will be no death rays.
posted by gompa at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw, gompa. I was gonna get me some BBQ from Big T's and watch some people fry- or, you know, dodge the square on the pavement unconsciously.
posted by LD Feral at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2010


God: "Watch me burn those humans like ants under a magnifying glass."

God's equally juvenile friend: "Cool."
posted by three blind mice at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2010


quin writes "what you are saying is that putting a giant parabolic mirror in one of the sunniest places on earth might have exciting consequences?"

Not every parabolic mirror building is going to have this problem. Significantly tighten the curve and the focal point doesn't reach the ground; significantly widen the curve and the focal point is so far below ground that people at ground level don't notice significant heating or at least not much more than that produced by a flat building. Increasing deviation of the building's axis from East-West lessens or eliminates the problem as lower sun angles move the focal point away from the ground.

I'm kind of curious what kind of film was applied. Run of the mill films either reflect or absorb light. In order to reduce reflections you'd have to be absorbing light and that would increase the A/C load; something that I'm guessing is contra indicated on a LEEDs building. So the film must be reflecting the light but also scattering it so it doesn't focus however the building appears shiny rather than dull; not something I'd expect of a film reducing reflections by 70%.
posted by Mitheral at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2010


Take out the pool, sell the building to a Bond villain, and let the magic work. Trust me, you'll make MILLIONS.
posted by ralenys at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2010


Belongs at the Luxor, obviously.
posted by effluvia at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that any new construction in Las Vegas can get LEED certification makes the whole LEED enterprise seem sort of meaningless.
posted by theodolite at 2:52 PM on September 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Seems like a slight change in the angle of each of the windows would get rid of the problem by making them either (as suggested above) converge above or below ground level, or not converge at all. That's something that could be done with some carefully designed shims.

Strategic angling could even make for an interesting visual effect.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:04 PM on September 27, 2010


I'm sorry, but if someone's building singed my hair, burnt my flip-flops, and the staff just chuckled about it, I'd be pissed too.

Vegas is already a death ray in the desert / unsustainable nightmare; this kind of design just makes it that much worse. Really, I look forward to Vegas becoming the world's largest ghost town.

Oh, and Viva L'American Death Ray Music! is fecking awesome, and a very lucky find indeed.

It almost makes you think that there's something still raw and untouched about music. They're the kind of band John Peel would play to death, even if no one else in Britain had ever heard of them.
posted by markkraft at 3:23 PM on September 27, 2010


"The fact that any new construction in Las Vegas can get LEED certification makes the whole LEED enterprise seem sort of meaningless."

Perhaps they should create a tall, giant rotating death ray building to routinely scorch all the other buildings in Vegas, rendering them uninhabitable, without actually reaching the point of actually creating lots of environmentally damaging smoke/fire.

Surely that would be better for the environment than simply slapping a bunch of solar cells on it, right?!

The afternoon would be the most beautiful time, as the death ray would reflect off one of the sides of Ra like a Pink Floyd album cover, and do a "bank shot", snuffing the life out of all those hiding under the Fremont Street Experience.
posted by markkraft at 3:42 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


to routinely scorch all the other buildings in Vegas, rendering them uninhabitable,

Isn't most of the housing in Las Vegas already abandoned anyway, though?
posted by The World Famous at 3:44 PM on September 27, 2010


markkraft: sounds like a project for Randall Flagg.
posted by localroger at 3:54 PM on September 27, 2010


The post here is missing some important context. Vdara is the flagship building of City Center, which at $8 billion is the largest private construction project in history. Vegas was hit harder than anyone else by the housing crisis, and the locals see it as a foolhardy boondoggle that will hurt the local economy. It doesn't help that the project is mostly funded out of the UAE (Vegas is pretty Republican) and that a number of workers died while it was under construction. Given this background, it's not surprising that the local paper would publish this kind of schtick -- watch for articles that the building has a mosque with pictures of 9/11 and has a special conference room just for death panels next.
posted by miyabo at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2010


According to my calculations, incinerating everyone in Las Vegas would remove 7,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year from our environment... even more if we provide exciting, new attractions for older, slower tourists who aren't able to run very fast and who might otherwise be scared off by the giant, rotating death ray.

Really, Cirque de Soleil can't touch it. "Carousel" could be bigger than "O" and "Ka" combined!
posted by markkraft at 3:57 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Environmentally-friendly windows are to blame for suburban death rays, too. "My home is MELTING..."
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:09 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like somebody... *puts on sunglasses* couldn't take the heat.

"This is the second day in a row someone's been fried by that building's reflection!"

"Looks like the return.... *sunglasses* ...of the prodigal sun."

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:18 PM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


While it's obvious in retrospect, a problem like this would be pretty easy to miss, really. Most analytical software I've seen analyzes solar effects within a building and shading effects on the outside. I'm impressed that they caught it at all. It reminds me of a problem with the so called cash register building here in Denver, by Philip Johnson. It has opposing semi-arched roofs. This first major winter storm produced foot thick sheets of compacted snow plummeting 40ish stories to the ground (I heard it killed somebody!). The solution involves heating the whole roof so snow has no chance to build up.

In any case, reality is complicated. Oh, and your hair's on fire.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 4:23 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Taking my previous "giant, rotating death ray" idea one step further...

Problem: Tourism is way down in Vegas. Land values are slipping. Hotels are underbooked. Casinos are already forced to offer big discounts on food and rooms in order to attract customers.

Solution: Add the giant, rotating death ray... and make Vegas a free place to live / visit, with drinks automatically comp'ed. Even some forms of gambling, such as penny slots would be absolutely free!

How could they afford to do this?! Easy. The city would work with the casinos to carefully calculate the odds of being incinerated, and sell the projected carbon savings from the incineration of the odd batch of tourists to big corporations, so they can be carbon-neutral! The government would also kick in, not just to encourage tourism, but also as a way of reducing their future Medicare / Social Security expenses!

Really, given how many people are likely to die if we *don't* start taking global warming seriously, this business model could be the next big thing... something that could be adapted to work in countries all over the world, and in all sorts of existing businesses, from Starbucks to your local corner store... free products, with an exciting, statistically acceptable, built-in "poison pill" risk.

It has the potential of saving people money, while still allowing us to do the right thing, right now, for the environment... and still have a bit of fun while doing it!
posted by markkraft at 4:43 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I look forward to Vegas becoming the world's largest ghost town.

Hotels, death-rays... It just occurred to me that this is all probably just a viral ad for Fallout New Vegas...
posted by quin at 4:47 PM on September 27, 2010


Sounds like you've a screenplay to write, markkraft. Death rays, Nicolas Cage, Las Vegas... Fall 2011!
posted by Kevin Street at 4:51 PM on September 27, 2010


I demand that meFi's own Adam Savage do an entire mythbusters episode on the Vegas Death ray. This clearly contradicts the previous attempts to reconstruct the famous Greek death ray.
posted by humanfont at 5:20 PM on September 27, 2010


three blind mice: "God: "Watch me burn those humans like ants under a magnifying glass."

God's equally juvenile friend: "Cool.
"

Must be Shiva.
posted by bwg at 5:32 PM on September 27, 2010


The glass won't be mirrored, and there will be no death rays.

Thanks for the architectural clarification, Buzz Killington.

Seriously cool building either way.

It would be better with the death rays, though.
posted by Aquaman at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2010


bwg,

Nah, Shiva's more into ice.

(At least, that's what Final Fantasy taught me.)
posted by effugas at 6:35 PM on September 27, 2010


Reflective glass reflects sun. Video at 11.

Oh, come on now. Any self-respecting local news broadcast would promote this video better than that.

Reflective glass reflects sun, roasts lawyers, video at 11.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:03 PM on September 27, 2010


AzraelBrown writes "Environmentally-friendly windows are to blame for suburban death rays, too. 'My home is MELTING...'"

Man that is some sloppy journalism. right off the top LowE and Gas filled are orthogonal features of modern windows. The claims of the siding melters seem to be pure shaky correlation without any experimentation or even a modicum of control of their observations. And I'm not sure what the thought process is that has them claiming gas filled windows are concave. The windows are gas filled to atmospheric pressure1, they haven't had a vacuum pulled on them. The whole point is to have a nice dense gas that resists eddy currents better than plain air.

1This is why high altitude windows aren't available gas filled in many locations; A window filled to atmospheric pressure at sea level is going to, over the life of the window, blow out the seal of the window resulting in condensation. The tubes the article talks about are supposed to be sealed before the window is installed.
posted by Mitheral at 10:06 PM on September 27, 2010


Unfortunately the only solution to this has the unfortunate side effect of forcing the machines to harvest us humans as fuel.

The circular bar at the center of the Hard Rock hotel has a domed roof that perfectly carries the sound from the opposite side of the bar and makes it sound like it's coming from directly behind you. If you don't know about this, it can be very disconcerting. Especially after a few drinks and not enough sleep. If you do know about it, it's quite entertaining.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:42 PM on September 27, 2010


On the suburban death rays: seems like a good opportunity to put up a solar panel set just to catch the reflection. The resulting power would be used to store electricity in batteries, which would be used to power bright searchlights directly into the offending home all night long.
posted by davejay at 11:53 AM on September 28, 2010


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