Monday, January 31, 2011

Solar Death Ray Less Awesome Than It Sounds

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:00 PM

With hundreds of thousands of videos chronicling how to make everything from engines to walking tables to cardboard T-shirt folders, Youtube has become the new place where people can show off or even market "scientific" and mechanical innovations.

A comically bizarre—though somewhat unsettling video—posted by Indiana teenager Eric Jacqmain shows him demonstrating his innovation: a "solar death ray."

The death ray is 5,800 small mirrors glued to a satellite dish theoretically focusing the heat of the sun to a single point. Total cost: $90.

The video of Jacqmain using his death ray to burn things to a crisp is so bizarre and so corny, it's hard to believe it's real. Soothing new-age music plays as he wheels it out of a shed and into his back yard, where he proceeds to ignite wood, steel, and more. It gets especially hard to swallow as Jacqmain's hand drifts— unharmed—into the ray from time to time. In response to a comment left on his video asking if he can stand in front of his death ray, he replies, "I could stand in front of it all day, just as´╗┐ long as I didn't get within the exact focal distance."

Overall, the video falls somewhere between a late-night infomercial for gardening equipment and the sort of informational video you'd see depicted in futuristic dystopian literature. This video actually manages to make solar death rays seem lame. And yet it is a portent of things to come.

Jacqmain says his death ray was destroyed in a fire—wonder how that happened?—but that he is hard at work on a newer, bigger one.

Makes you wonder what would have happened had Oppenheimer been working in the era of Youtube.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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