Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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A long time ago, there was one of those science toys stores in Fair Oaks mall. However, they went out of business. In their last days, I dropped by to see what cheap goodies I could score. Lying along a back wall was this large round parabolic mirror. A really nice piece, probably cost somebody a few hundred bucks at some point. I decided I wanted it, but there was no price. I pestered people until somebody told me I could have it for $25.

I showed my prize to maugorn, who was happy to help me see what we could cook with it. We decided to try cooking a hot dog. It burned a hole through it. Hmm, too intense, we'll have to diffuse the energy a little. We wrapped a hot dog in aluminium foil and tried again. Burned a hole through that too, foil and all. Yow. We rounded up a ceramic bathroom tile, thinking that would be able to withstand a lot more heat. Nope, melted a hole right through it. maugorn dubbed it something like "Moloch's Solar Energy Weapon", a rather apt term, and one that stuck in my mind, leading me to refer to it as the solar energy weapon ever since.

Flash forward to a couple of months ago. maugorn had discovered that a bunch of copies of his album had been recorded incorrectly and didn't work. He replaced everybody's copies, but I was wondering what to do with the bad one. I asked him if I should incinerate it with the solar mirror. He said that was a grand idea, and he wanted pictures. Finally, one weekend I had some free time and hauled the beast out of the attic. I had left it there, face down, when I was building the house. The insulation contractors blew insulation right on top of it — perhaps they thought it was a monster light fixture or something. I managed to extract it from the attic and get it outside. A decade in an attic hadn't done it any good. I cleaned off the insulation and random other cruft, but the mirror surface had several corroded areas on it.

The mirror today, with visible deterioration. There are several splotches visible at about the 2 o'clock position.

However, there was plenty of good surface area left, and a quick test with a branch revealed it could make fire instantly, even on a slightly overcast chilly day. I recruited fizzygeek as cameraperson and proceeded to incinerate the errant CD. There are 18MB quicktime movies of the process here and here. You can hear some of our comments (like fizzygeek saying in a Beavis type voice "Fire's cool!") but sadly the distinctive "Fwoomp" of plastic bursting into instant flame in the heat of 2000 suns didn't record.

After we were done baking the CD, fizzygeek expressed her skepticism that there was enough heat there to damage an ordinary rock. So I fetched one of the spare flagstones and held it in the hot spot. Immediately, rock started to make alarming cracking and popping noises, and fizzygeek, convinced, said I could stop now.

Here's the results.

Another shot. You can actually still read the lettering claiming "CERTIFIED PLUS", amusingly enough. Just enough of the label survived to be recognizable.

A closer look.

Let's have an even closer look, shall we?

Oh, look, another bit of label!

There sure are a lot of bubbles!

Hmm, perhaps there might be some beauty left here?

Yes, even in destruction, there can be beauty.

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