In the third century BCE, King Hiero II of Syracuse asked Archimedes to devise a number of death traps to thwart Roman invaders. Among the many designs the great inventor drew up was a solar death ray. The basic idea was to build an array of mirrors that could reflect rays of light into a central blast, causing Roman ships to burst into flame. It's unlikely the weapon ever made it past the blueprint stage, but it became an incredibly influential model nonetheless. Archimedes was perhaps the first solar power convert, searching for a way to take advantage of the inconceivable amount of energy our friendly neighborhood star barfs up every second.