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Okay, this isn't really a tutorial. Well...maybe if you're stuck on a desert island, need fire and happen to have a big plastic globe. Still, the story is strange enough that I thought some of you would find it interesting.

Before Halloween, I was sitting on the back porch, surrounded by props, when I noticed wisps of smoke drifting past my feet. This was odd because nothing was plugged in. Eventually my eyes tracked the smoke to a burn mark on the carpet, accompanied by a brilliant pinpoint of light. Oh wow! Among the things on the porch was a big globe half filled with water--something I was trying to incorporate into the Halloween alien display (it looked kinda cool when struck with a laser light). The lens-shaped body of water was focusing sunlight onto the carpet and burning a line across the fibers as the sun moved. What were the odds?

Glass Sphere Table

Rim Glass Table Automotive lighting Wheel
 

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The sun's rays magnified is really powerful. Home builders/owners were finding a few years back that their house siding was warping and melting in some cases. People were told it might be defective siding or installation issues or something homeowner did. Ended up being the placement of low-e glass windows, some on neighbors' houses, some on the homeowners', windows that at the time were constructed and formed basically a convex mirror for the sun's rays to concentrate to a point and "overheat/burn" what the sun's rays fell on at peak times. People noticed this happening with their grass and landscape being burnt. Saw video of someone's new patio furniture getting Ray burns across the fabric with charring and melting of the nylon fabric. One hotel, maybe it was in Vegas, had sunbathers around the pool being burned laying out and a cabana catching fire. Real stuff so not surprised to hear of your experience. Given the right combination of material, sun's position and strength of rays you were lucky not to have that area catch on fire especially if you saw it smoking.

If I'm not mistaken in "ancient" times people like DaVinci I think it was were trying to build death rays based on this principle for their military purposes.

Did some research and it was Archimedes who was said to have developed the death heat ray.
 

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Years ago in the UK there was a fashion for window glass to have a few raised circular areas in the panes, which were a series of small concentric circles - these have been known to focus the sun and set fire to carpets etc. It depended on the glass and the direction/strength of the sun.
 
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