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October 1, 2007 Issue

Physics To Go 34 - Death ray/solar power

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Physics in Your World

Archimedes Death Ray image
Photo credit: David Wallace, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering; image source

Archimedes Death Ray

Although MythBusters® "busted" the myth that Archimedes ignited nearby Roman warships with reflected sunlight, students in MIT's Product Engineering Process course succeeded (high-res image). Check out Archimedes Death Ray: Idea Feasibility Testing for lots of interesting details and also a link to the MythBusters® follow-up.

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Physics at Home

Atmospheric Processes: Radiation

Take a look at Atmospheric Processes: Radiation from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).  You'll investigate how three different materials--water, light soil, and dark soil--absorb light energy.


From Physics Research

Parabolic Trough Solar Collector image
photo credit: Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories; image source

Parabolic Trough Solar Collector

This photo (hi-res version) shows a parabolic trough solar collector that heats oil in a pipe that runs along the focus of the mirrors.  For further information visit Sandia's Solar National Thermal Test Facility. To learn about a breakthrough in aligning the mirrors, see Sandia invention.

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