Now for the commentary (I've held off posting this until Sunday because it is rc's highest traffic day, by the way) ... there are a pile of views being expressed on the Classics list ... FWIW, I'm one of the folks who wrote into Mythbusters to say they had messed up their handling of the bunking/debunking of this myth a year or so ago; they even sponsored a contest of sorts because there was a pile of interest in it. Just a week or so ago, they tried again, using bronze mirrors and found that the bronze type mirrors available to Archimedes were actually the best suited for generating heat. Now even though the MIT guys and gals appear to have succeeding in setting the wood of a model ship on fire, I still think they are going about it all wrong ... in some (admittedly late) source, I got the impression that Archimedes could aim his mirrors, and it seemed to me he used some sort of linkage system (remember, Archimedes was right into levers). The other thing which boggles my mind is this focus on setting the *wood* of the ship on fire. Surely the sails and/or the clothing of someone walking on deck would have a much lower flash point than potentially-waterlogged wood ... there would be all sorts of things on the deck of the ship to set on fire.