Author of the Month

Archimedes' Burning Mirror Problem Solved (cont.)
By Christopher Jordan

Dish Construction

The construction task becomes much easier when only a small spherical section is required. To make a seven-degree spherical arc requires only a pendulum, grinder and patience. This can be combined with a potter's wheel to speed up the process and guarantee the surface. No one argues that pendulums and potters wheels were unknown in the old world.

With this set up, ancient craftsmen could make mirrors so powerful they could vaporize virtually anything at their maximum power. Beneath the upper limit, there are points where materials can be melted or just warmed. This is the solution to the 'Burning Mirror Problem' associated with Archimedes. These dishes have an intense beam focused at a distance equal to half the length of the pendulum. If the pendulum is 100m and the dish is 2m wide, there will be a point of light with over 100MW/Sqm intensity created at 50m when the dish is pointed at the sun. This is a cannon compared to the majority of these weapons, which were shield sized and designed to blind the enemy on the battlefields.

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