Adding to his resume of unusual guest appearances, President Obama will appear on an upcoming episode of Discovery Channel’s popular “Mythbusters” to highlight the importance of science education — and challenge the hosts to prove if a certain Greek legend could have really happened. From Wikipedia:
The 2nd century AD author Lucian wrote that during the Siege of Syracuse (c. 214–212 BC), Archimedes destroyed enemy ships with fire. Centuries later, Anthemius of Tralles mentions burning-glasses as Archimedes’ weapon. The device, sometimes called the “Archimedes heat ray”, was used to focus sunlight onto approaching ships, causing them to catch fire.
While “Mythbusters” has covered the topic before — and given it the “busted/failed” label — people have written in asking them to try again under different conditions. Indeed, a group of students in 2005 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had success in staging a recreation of Archimedes weapon; lighting a mock-up ship on fire with 127 directed one-foot mirrors.
Look for the Obama episode to air on December 8th on the Discovery Channel.