Simply Brilliant

In 214 BC, a powerful Roman force attacked the city of Syracuse, the home of the famed mathematician and inventor Archimedes. To hold off the Roman legions, he devised one ingenious weapon after another, among them a catapult which could hurl a ton of stones some six hundred feet.

His most remarkable contraption, however, was brilliant in its sheer simplicity: Using an array of mirrors, Archimedes directed and concentrated the sun's rays onto the Roman ships and set them ablaze.

[In 1973, a Greek scientist named Ioannis Sakas duplicated Archimedes' feat with sixty sailors aiming large mirrors at a boat 50 metres away. The vessel was ablaze in three minutes.]

[Archimedes also used his knowledge of the lever to build cranes which could be used to capsize invading ships.]

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