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President Obama To Appear On Mythbusters 795

Muondecay writes "President Obama will be featured in the December 8th MythBusters episode, 'Archimedes Solar Ray,' during which he will challenge Adam and Jamie to revisit an ancient and somewhat controversial myth: Did Greek scientist and polymath Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun during the Siege of Syracuse? This is part of a White House effort to highlight the importance of science education."
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President Obama To Appear On Mythbusters

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  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:44PM (#33936198) Homepage

    The only people I ever hear calling him "messiah" are right-wingers. They sound pretty ridiculous and juvenile when they do it. Just FYI.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:53PM (#33936368)

    Because while they failed to do it, others have made it work to some degree. The mythbusters often retest myths and this is about getting kids into science. This has nothing to do with solar energy safety, or anything else like that. You are seeing conspiracy where there is none.

  • by Clsid ( 564627 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:55PM (#33936394)
    Arquimedes was indeed Sicilian, but that's considered Greek since Syracuse, capital of Sicily was a Greek nation state, part of the Hellenistic civilization.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:58PM (#33936446) Homepage Journal

    Although, come to think of it, I suspect that the people who still believe this myth probably don't use the internet much.

    Sadly, that's untrue. They use the Internet to squeal their paranoid nonsense at each other in increasingly deafening volumes. They create special web sites for themselves, where they can tell each other "the truth" free from liberal constraints like "reality".

    And when presented with some new falsehood, they'll forward it to all of their friends with joyous abandon, undimmed by the previous 9,000 times those friends have replied by debunking it.

    The Internet is at least a powerful tool for spreading idiocy, not just a world wide web but also a global echo chamber where stupid ideas can see print and take on the same black-and-white power of a newspaper.

    And they appear to have nothing whatsoever better to do with their time.

    I do not mean to leave liberals out of this: stupid liberals can use the internet to spread stupidity just as effectively as conservatives can. But I've seen nothing with the sheer idiocy-concentrating power of conservapedia or the freepers. That's industrial-grade stupid.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:59PM (#33936492) Journal
    They have busted it twice now, and both times it was with two guys and small mirrors. Archimedes would have used large polished shields and have each held by a man.

    An experiment in 1973 [] used 0.75 square metre polished brass mirrors and 70 Greek sailors and had considerably more success at 50m.

    Whether it actually happened or not is up for speculation, but it seems that it was at least plausible.

    Wasn't totally convinced by the steam cannon either:)
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:01PM (#33936532)
    The only people I ever hear calling him "messiah" are right-wingers. They sound pretty ridiculous and juvenile when they do it. Just FYI.

    Then you probably missed Oprah, while weeping, proclaiming him to be "The One" (her words, repeated many times). You have missed Obama himself describing his election as being the point at which the earth would heal and the oceans would recede (his words!). There's a reason that one of Jon Stewart's best satire videos involved a mythic/messianic send-up of Obama with the opening from The Lion King, and going even more over-the-top from there. Perhaps you missed the Greek Temple that was built for his coronation at the DNC convention?

    The reason you hear his political opponents making fun of the messianic hoopla is because it exists, right down to mainstream media types talking about how they get shivers down their legs when he makes an appearance. Of course it was all a lot noisier before he was elected. Even some of his most breathless fanboys/girls are realizing that they were being completely irrational.

    The people making fun of that BS aren't the ones who look ridiculous - it's the people who still cry and faint when he gives campaign speeches. Just FYI (your words).
  • Re:Science? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:02PM (#33936544)

    If the goal is to promote science education, Mythbusters seems like the LAST place to do it. Seriously, this is a show that will try one particular way of doing things, fail at it, and then conclude that the original "myth" is busted based on their one experiment. I would have a lot more respect for the show if their only possible conclusions were "confirmed" and "inconclusive"

    you are a moron, they do test many ways that something to could be done they on many occations go above and beyond to try and prove the myth as fact and when all else fails they rule it as busted and false obviously you don't watch the show

  • by beamin ( 23709 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:03PM (#33936558)

    Just to bust yet another right-wing myth: shots of BOTH Reagan and Bush in shirtsleeves in the Oval Office. []


  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:06PM (#33936632) Homepage Journal

    Those were both before the recent events of a certain Las Vegas hotel and their shiny new Death Ray... []

    Now, it's less 'myth' and more 'national security crisis'...

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:09PM (#33936688)

    No, he was Greek, at the time Sicily was a Greek colony. [],_Italy#Greek_period []

  • Fallacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:25PM (#33936936)
    Saying B is not worse "then" A is not a denial that A is true.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:26PM (#33936950)
    No. Teaching school kids to sing Obama songs ("mmm mmm mmm, Barack Hussen Obama ... we're all equal in his sight ... mmm mmmm mmm"), and trotting out gems about how his election will mark the healing of the earth and the receding of the oceans ... that is loopy messianic crazy stuff. Not at all the same as being proud of one's country (and quite the opposite of actively, rhetorically trashing on a regular basis, or having your proxies do so). If being reflexively patriotic is a bad thing, isn't being reflexively un-patriotic just the same?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:26PM (#33936966)

    "who's to blame for the 2007 economic crisis..."

    Please remind me which party it was that wanted to make owning a home a new entitlement? This is the root of the problem. Please see "Community Reinvestment Act, Bill Clinton." Repackaging worthless loans into worthless investments backed by the FNMA was a symptom of the root problem.

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:29PM (#33937040)

    And she is unable to mention one magazine she reads. How they could be proud of such a moron I will never understand.

    This is the internet age. Who the hell still reads dead-tree publications? And who, likewise, considers this to be ANY kind of status symbol.

    Now, she's definitely a moron, but you appear to be more so...

  • You can look up all the episodes here []. The first time they looked at this myth was in 2004. The second time was in 2006.

  • by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:43PM (#33937278) Journal

    They do sound pretty juvenile, I wonder who is being parodied? Oh, that's right, they're making fun of the left-wingers!

    “I cried all night. I’m going to be crying for the next four years,” he said. “What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. ... The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”
    -- Jesse Jackson, Jr.

    "Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, I mean, as he has said, the utter improbability of it all?"
    -- Daily Kos

    "He communicates God-like energy..."
    -- Steve Davis (Charleston, SC)

    "Not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul"
    -- Commentator Chicago Sun Times

    "He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians. . . . the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century."
    -- Gary Hart

    "Barack Obama is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings . . . He's our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence."
    -- Eve Konstantine

    "This is bigger than Kennedy. . . . This is the New Testament." "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. No, seriously. It's a dramatic event."
    -- Chris Matthews

    "Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind."
    -- Gerald Campbell

    "We're here to evolve to a higher plane . . . he is an evolved leader . . . [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth."
    -- Oprah Winfrey

    “I would characterize the Senate race as being a race where Obama was, let’s say, blessed and highly favored. That’s not routine. There’s something else going on. I think that Obama, his election to the Senate, was divinely ordered. . . . I know that that was God’s plan."
    -- Bill Rush

    Previously on the Obama campaign site - has since been removed: []

            Rabbi David Saperstein, reading from Psalms in English and Hebrew, noticed from the altar that the good men and women of the congregation that day, including the Bidens and other dignitaries, had not yet stood. Finally Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Church asked that everyone rise. At that moment Saperstein saw something from his angle of vision: "If I had seen it in a movie I would have groaned and said, 'Give me a break. That's so trite.'" A beam of morning light shown [sic] through the stained-glass windows and illuminated the president-elect's face. Several of the clergy and choir on the altar who also saw it marveled afterward about the presence of the Divine.
    The Promise: President Obama, Year One, by Jonathan Alter.

    "In a way Obama is standing above the country, above the world. He's sort of GOD. He's going to bring all different sides together."
    - Newsweek editor Evan Thomas

    "No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don't expect, like Jesus being born in a manger."
    Some see God's will in Obama win, by Dahleen Glanton. Chicago Tribune November 29, 2008.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:52PM (#33937462) Journal

    So let me get this straight. It's ok for her to do the TV show thing...because she abandoned her responsibility to the people that voted for her???

    In Alaska, anyone can accuse the Governer of an ethics violation, which the governer must spend $thousands of his personal money to defend against. The governer is forbidden by law from estabishing a legeal defense fund to protect against abuse of this tactic. Sarah Palin was forced out of office by lawsuit abuse, plain and simple.

    I've never understood the Palin hatedom. She seems fairly representative of the mainstream of the American right - do people really hate their neighbors so much?

  • by hldn ( 1085833 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:52PM (#33937474) Homepage

    uh no, it actually happened. (newspapers, not magazines) []

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:53PM (#33937484) Journal

    Sails have several major things going against them as an attack vector. First, they tend to be pretty light in color, so a good bit of the light reflects rather than being absorbed. Second, they tend to flap and/or move more erratically, making it simultaneously harder to focus on a specific place. Third, a sail fire is non-fatal to the ship itself, and is a lot easier to put out than a pitch fire. If you want to set a trireme on fire, aim low and aim at pitch. It's dark, it doesn't move a lot, and once you ignite it it burns like a sunovabitch.

    More importantly, their initial tests were not testing the actual flammability of the material, but what temperatures could be achieved using bronze shields that had been shaped as half-decent mirrors. Their maximum temperature at 60 feet using 400 square feet of bronze was about 200 degrees (not only not enough to ignite dry material, but not enough to boil water). Even dry paper, as Ray Bradbury taught us all, ignites at around 451 degrees. The Mythbusters were shooting for 600 degrees to guarantee ignition, and even once they added a bunch of additional mirrors they only got 280.

    They did revisit it, by the way. An MIT team was challenged to repeat the experiment at 100 feet, and they were actually able to ignite the boat at 75 feet. Using modern glass mirrors (not bronze) to ignite a dry boat (not damp) located on a rooftop in full sun and at optimal angle (so if you had an Eastern shore, you'd better hope the enemy was attacking in the mid-morning hours).

    It wasn't just busted because they couldn't set a boat on fire at a reasonable distance, but because they could only set it on fire with non-period materials under optimal circumstances using potentially thousands of troops, where a simple flaming arrow could be fired by a single person, start a much more aggressive fire, and work over at least three times the distance (100 yards isn't a terribly long arrow shot).

    Frankly, I'm with a few other people, it's a great idea getting the Mythbusters involved in getting kids into science (because, as flawed as it is, the show really does push experimentation and questioning your assumptions, which is the foundation of science). It's just that doing so by doing a THIRD take on a myth that is so obviously debunked is.. well.. a little foolish.

    The Mythbusters don't always get it right the first time, but they have demonstrated that they are VERY open to disproving their own prior results, and have done so on more than one occasion. They aren't experts in anything they do, but they are good scientists, in that they make an honest effort to control for variables and don't appear to instantly dismiss theories and feedback they don't agree with. They subject it to experimentation.

    Plus, of course, there's almost always a satisfying explosion. :)

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:54PM (#33937498)

    No, she *did* say it, and SNL mocked it.

    More specifically, she said it in an interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News: []

    It was in response to a question asking why Palin was convinced that her proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @03:58PM (#33937548)

    Order troops posted on the Mexico border? Uhhh, no. []

  • by Carpathius ( 215767 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:03PM (#33937654)

    Don't watch Oprah, don't care.

    As for what Obama himself said.

    You don't quite quote him correctly, but so what, I guess. You do misstate where the quote came from. It came from the end of the speech he gave when accepting the democratic nomination. Again, so what, I guess.

    However, you seem to imply that that he was calling himself some kind of savior, and that I don't believe, and I think that it's certainly worth pointing out that he said a bunch of other things as well:

    America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

    The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when [...]

    Right or wrong I think he made it clear that these things weren't things that he, alone, could do. These are issues that take many people working for them. And that makes him believe himself to be a leader, *not* a messiah.

  • by DaleSwanson ( 910098 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:04PM (#33937666)
    Article I Section 8 []:

    The Congress shall have Power...
    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:13PM (#33937822) Journal

    Never hear of the Corrupt Bastard's Club []? That's what they called themselves, they had hats made and everything. Politics-as-usual would have had all these bastards go free after the new GOP governer took over, much like Ted Stevens walked to to "gross prosecutorial misconduct". Surprisingly, it didn't go down that way.

  • by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:20PM (#33937956)

    I always got the impression that they managed to sneak a bit of science in between the "hurr... explosion" moments, like when they said it wasn't possible to open the door of a sinking car until the pressure equalized or explained why golf balls have dimples.

    It's not a science-filled show by any standard but it does have its moments and I believe they do a good job of getting the layperson at least somewhat interested in science.

  • by Simon80 ( 874052 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:23PM (#33938000)
    You say that as if they called themselves that in a serious way before they were publicly accused of being corrupt, and the Wikipedia article you cite credits the investigations and prosecutions to a bunch of federal bodies, with no link to the governor of Alaska.
  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:23PM (#33938012)

    That's better than Bush Jr's stats, where over 50% was convinced he wasn't legally elected.

    And then it eventually turned out that, strictly speaking, he wasn't elected by Florida - more thorough recounts done later on for research purposes made it pretty clear [] that Florida had actually gone to Gore, but nobody publicized this result too much because it wouldn't have gotten anyone anywhere at that point.

    Though of course he was legally elected, given that the Supreme Court ordered the recounts halted since they wouldn't have been done in time.

  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:26PM (#33938058)

    Have you ever considered the possibility that legislation you oppose is both a bad idea, and also constitutional?

    * There are no fines for failing to have health insurance. There are tax implications, not fines.
    * General Welfare would cover this law
    * Interstate commerce would also cover this law
    * Notice how no serious national figure, even those who desperately oppose the law, are suggesting that it is unconstitutional

    As for me, I would have preferred a system of socialized health centers, run by the government, with government employees providing the care. The care would be emergency and basic, much less than the services provided under the current health insurance reform. But just because I'm not a big fan of the reform we got, isn't a reason for me to sit around pretending untrue things about the constitution. It's fine to oppose the law; it's even fine to critique it in light of the constitution; but it's not fine to invent legal theories in order to justify a charge that a law is unconstitutional.

  • by gambino21 ( 809810 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:32PM (#33938172)
    The difference in auto insurance is that normally only liability insurance is required. If you choose to not purchase healthcare you are putting the risk on yourself. I'm not completely against the new healthcare legislation, but requiring everyone to purchase insurance seems pretty clearly to be a handout to the health insurance companies to give them more customers and more money which results in even more influence in Washington.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @06:45PM (#33939972)

    And yet he seems to know almost nothing about Constitutional Law. Interesting, huh? In addition the fact that he's never held a private sector job and yet preaches that the private sector is flawed that government needs to hold up companies that "are too big to fail".

    While Sarah Palin may not have the same number of degrees as Obama, she does have more experience in the executive offices than Obama, even with his 1.5 years in the presidency.

  • Sharks (Score:3, Informative)

    by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @08:13PM (#33940928)

    "Sharks don't ram ships in real life".

    The ampullae of Lorenzini are used by sharks for orientation. These electroreceptors can be influenced by ships hulls, which often have much metal. Reports of sharks and whales bumping into ships are not as uncommon as you may think.

    No scientific experiment tests "ALL" aspects of a theory. Each test, regardless of how well designed, makes some assumptions that are presumed to be true.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:08PM (#33941810) Journal

    On that chart, only the recounts that didn't actually take place seem to have gone for Gore. All of the real recounts, in which Gore's people were somehow allowed to cherry pick the counties recounted, had Bush winning.

    Why if only they'd done the constitutionally mandated full recount instead of the gore-friendly cherry-picked recount, maybe gore would've won....

  • by mr100percent ( 57156 ) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:45PM (#33949278) Homepage Journal

    Fair enough. Some of the person-on-the-street interviews in 2004 I can no longer find, but there was more during his re-election.

    "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of America did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." General Jerry Boykin

    "He is one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge," Governor George Pataki

    "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility." White House official Tim Goeglein

    Palin is now going the same direction: Bush, Palin Both Think They're Chosen By God []

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe