Posts Tagged ‘Science’

London has recently been suffering on the receiving end of a powerful “death ray”, but in this case you don’t need James Bond, you need an architect. A new 37 story skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch street in London is the culprit that has been melting cars and starting fires with a laser of concentrated sunlight. The problem has arisen thanks to the concave design of the glass covered building combined with the position of the sun for the past few weeks. For about a two-hour window every day, the light reflected off the building becomes so concentrated and intense that it reaches temperatures above 92 degrees Celsius (that’s about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who don’t do metric).

So far, the “death ray” has been responsible for blistering paint, cracking tiles, even starting a fire on the carpet in the entryway of one of the nearby stores. The worst so far is the damage that was done to one Londoner’s Jaguar, warping and distorting pieces of the cars body. You can see the damage being pointed out by owner Martin Lindsay in this clip, and it’s pretty astounding:

Lindsay was surprised by the damage, but explained that he’s worked in construction and understands that sometimes things go wrong in completely unpredictable ways, and that the management companies for the building stepped forward and took care of repairs right away.

Land Securities and Canary Wharf, the companies responsible for building and managing the skyscraper, are taking care of all the damages to cars and buildings and have been quick to try to find a solution to the problem. According to their engineers, they predict that the sun will be in position to continue to create the “death ray” for another two weeks, and in the meantime they have erected scaffolding to block the light on that part of the building. Still, a long-term solution will need to be found or this will become an annual event. Just to be safe, the city has also shut down three parking spaces in the line of fire until the sun is in a safer position, because most insurance companies don’t cover “naturally occurring laser damage”. And with more and more glass-covered skyscrapers being built all over the world, calculating and anticipating the sun’s interaction with them is going to be an important part of the design process, though just to be safe you might want to think of a reflective chrome paint job for your next car.