The Light Sharpener

Intro Build Foil Mirror Burn Epilogue FAQ
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23 FAQ

On Sunday, July 22nd, the Light Sharpener came out to play. Stacy and I invited some family and friends over, and warned them to bring sunglasses.

Before any guests arrived, I tried a circle of white paper. I thought this would be a good way to show the size and intensity of the sunlight at the focal point, but it wasn't very successful. There was a large area of bright white light just where I thought it should be, but this test did not reveal any secrets.

You are invited to watch the video.

The next item to face the daylight was a soaking wet shirt. This might sound funny, but in my old apartment, I had the most excellent clothesline. It was strung from a stairway landing about 15 feet above an alleyway, where it was exposed to full sun and wind. It worked like a charm.

Every summer, Mike and I would trade dried clothes stories.

"Hey, check it out! I dried 40 shirts in 40 minutes!"

"I went to hang up the second load of laundry, and the first load is dry already!"

and "My bath towel feels like sandpaper!"

We weren't saving a fortune (our clothes dryer cost about 17cents/hour to operate) but the clothesline was faster, and it definitely felt like good to conserve electricity when hanging the clothes worked so well. Science Club Presents: Drying Laundry

Sue and Nick arrived as the shirt was hoised into the sunlight. Streams of steam poured off of the shirt as the water was vaporized. I was impressed! I was actually stunned, and in the video you can hear my excited laughter.

It took almost six minutes for the shirt to dry out and burst into flames.



Next, it was time to roast some marshmallows.


Here is a photo of Nick handling the marshmallows.

If you ever find yourself roasting marshmallows on the end of a 10-foot pole, ask if there are any fire extinguishers available nearby.

Marshmallows may, at first glance, look to be very sensitive. However, their bright white color reflected most of the light, so it took almost a minute for them to char.

Once they started turning black, however, they began to absorb much more light and heat. They caught fire and were horribly burned.

We were not discouraged. Everyone screamed to try s'more.



Eric and Jonas arrived with an oven thermometer. It had a flat metal base, which reflected almost all of the incoming heat energy. Nothing happened.

We pulled it off of the dish and set to work modifying the base.


The next item to face the wraith of the concentrated sunlight was this small plastic globe.

After consulting four professors of atmostpheric temperology, I was convinced that this would be an accurate representation of the future of planet Earth if you don't buy a Toyota Prius by November 7th.

The Earth under extreme heat.

The result?

The lower half of Africa is melted, and nearly falls off. Russia suffers blisters and South America is severly wrinkled.

You don't even want to know what happens to Australia.

Please continue reading page 21 of the Light Sharpener.

Intro Build Foil Mirror Burn Epilogue FAQ
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August 21, 2007.   Terms and Conditions  Copyright 2007