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Obama on 'Mythbusters': What happened with his 'death ray'?

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Courtesy of Mythbusters/Discovery

(Read caption) Mythbusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman pose in a promotional shot for their show. President Obama's challenge – reexamine an ancient myth about Archimedes using mirrors to set an advancing fleet on fire – met failure on the show last night.

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President Obama’s “viewer challenge” was busted on “Mythbusters” last night. He’d charged hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage with examining the ancient legend of Archimedes’ solar death ray – supposedly, the Greek scientist used giant mirrors to reflect sunlight towards attacking Roman ships around 212 BC, setting them aflame.

The Obama twist was to use hundreds of mirrors, held by hundreds of San Francisco-area students, to try and light a mock trireme on fire. Change we could believe in! Hope of conflagration! The 2012 campaign is starting early.

It didn’t work, though. The many, many mirrors, jiggling constantly as the teenagers squirmed while aiming, just couldn’t combine into one ray that was focused enough to truly heat up the fake ship’s sail. They got it up to 260º degrees Fahrenheit or so, which is pretty hot, but not nearly hot enough for ignition.

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