London Skyscraper's Facade Turns Sunlight Into A Heat Ray

The building has been blamed for melting the plastic on a parked car, setting store carpets on fire, and shattering tiles. Believe it or not, it's the second structure architect Rafael Viñoly has built that has this "feature."

London Skyscraper's Facade Turns Sunlight Into A Heat Ray

What's the Latest Development?


A London skyscraper nicknamed "the Walkie-Talkie" for its shape has been blamed for a series of "hot" incidents on a stretch of street below. Most recently, a man who parked his Jaguar for a few hours came back to find a mirror and other plastic parts melted by the concentrated sunlight reflecting off the building's facade. According to the BBC, the owners of the building will pay the man for £1,000 in damages. In addition, stores in the vicinity have reported melted plastic, scorched carpet, and shattered tiles. 

What's the Big Idea?

The combination of the building's curvilinear shape and the reflective glass covering the south-facing wall is what's causing it to behave like a huge magnifying glass, says the University of Durham's James Keaveney: "There's a power station in Spain that works on this principle. They have an array of mirrors that focuses light into a central pillar — if it's 60 degrees Celsius [140 degrees Fahrenheit], you could get solar panels and get some energy out of it." Ironically, this isn't the first building by architect Rafael Viñoly that's dangerous to be near: The owners of Las Vegas' Vdara Hotel had to put up large umbrellas to prevent the "Vdara death ray" from singeing people's hair.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at LiveScience

Airspeeder's ‘flying car’ racers to be shielded by virtual force-fields

Welcome to the world's newest motorsport: manned multicopter races that exceed speeds of 100 mph.

Credit: Airspeeder
Technology & Innovation
  • Airspeeder is a company that aims to put on high-speed races featuring electric flying vehicles.
  • The so-called Speeders are able to fly at speeds of up to 120 mph.
  • The motorsport aims to help advance the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) sector, which could usher in the age of air taxis.
Keep reading Show less

How space debris created the world’s largest garbage dump

Since 1957, the world's space agencies have been polluting the space above us with countless pieces of junk, threatening our technological infrastructure and ability to venture deeper into space.

Space debris orbiting Earth

Framestock via Adobe Stock
Technology & Innovation
  • Space debris is any human-made object that's currently orbiting Earth.
  • When space debris collides with other space debris, it can create thousands more pieces of junk, a dangerous phenomenon known as the Kessler syndrome.
  • Radical solutions are being proposed to fix the problem, some of which just might work. (See the video embedded toward the end of the article.)
Keep reading Show less

Looking for something? A team at MIT develop a robot that sees through walls

It uses radio waves to pinpoint items, even when they're hidden from view.

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
In recent years, robots have gained artificial vision, touch, and even smell.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast