Skyscraper Blamed for Melting a Car

That's some solar magnification


A London skyscraper dubbed the Walkie-Talkie has been blamed for reflecting light which melted parts of a car parked on a nearby street. What happened?

It's like starting a fire with a parabolic mirror.

"Fundamentally it's reflection. If a building creates enough of a curve with a series of flat windows, which act like mirrors, the reflections all converge at one point, focusing and concentrating the light," says Chris Shepherd, from the Institute of Physics.

The half-finished 37-storey "Walkie Talkie"- nicknamed such because of its tapering rectangular design—is indeed a curvy building. Its design, which has also been compared to a brimming pint glass, has come under controversy before.

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  1. Really thought TheOnion was going to be the source on this one.

  2. This is nonsense. There is absolutely no way in hell this effect could be produced by pure happenstance.

    Firstly windows don’t actually reflect very much light/heat, which is why they make temperature control in a building terribly inefficient. You would need actual mirrors to achieve any significant level of light/heat reflection. Secondly the mirrors would all have to be meticulously aligned to be focusing on PRECISELY the same spot so as to multiply the effects of a single light source. A fraction of an inch off on each mirror would be enough to entirely negate the effect.

    And lastly people have been trying to reproduce this effect for centuries ever since the legend of the original death ray. And while some have achieved a certain measure of success. It took thousands and thousands of meticulously focused and flawlessly polished mirrors to even achieve that, and they were already starting their experiments from a point where they had engineered every variable to be as likely as possible to produce the result they wanted.

    1. There are numerous examples of high efficiency windows causing property on sunny days. Your argument is nonsense.

  3. I smell a Myth Busters special!!

    1. They did it, unless that is what you are referring to.

  4. I have some suspicions as well. The car that supposedly caught fire was identified as a Jaguar. It’s not like those have ever had a rep for bursting into flames, even absent a shiny parabolic reflector building.

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