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The new Vdara hotel in Las Vegas has a curved surface that creates what hotel staff call a "death ray", and which has burned at least one vacationer.  (Source: Cygnusloop99)

The fiery beam sweeps across the pool area daily.  (Source: MGM Resorts)

Temperatures under the beam can be 130 Fahrenheit or higher -- hot enough to melt or deform plastic like this newspaper bag (see melted away lettering).  (Source: ABC News)
Hot new Vdara hotel might be a little bit TOO hot

Bill Pintas was vacationing in Las Vegas when he decided to stay at the swank new Vdara hotel, a curvy 57-story tower owned by MGM Resorts.  He was sitting at the pool when he encountered something alarming.  He recalls, "I'm sitting there in the chair and all of the sudden my hair and the top of my head are burning.  I'm rubbing my head and it felt like a chemical burn. I couldn't imagine what it could be." 

Like an ant under a magnifying glass, he remembers running to an umbrella, but being unable to escape the hot light.  He recalls, "I used to live in Miami and I've sat in the sun in Las Vegas 100 times. I know what a hot sun feels like and this was not it.  My first inclination was thinking: Jesus we've destroyed the ozone layer because I am burning." 

Speaking with employees, he was alarmed to find out that the hotel staff was aware of the situation.  He recalls, "They're kind of giggling and say: 'Yeah, we know. We call it the death ray."

The "death ray" appears to be created by the glass surface of the hotel itself -- acting as a concentrating parabolic dish -- similar to those used to heat water to a boil in solar power systems.  The dish concentrates light on a 10-foot by 15-foot hot zone moving across the pool.  Temperatures in this area spike 20 degrees Fahrenheit -- or more.

Bill Pintas saw his plastic newspaper bag literally begin to melt.  The bag -- composed of polyethylene -- is designed to withstand temperatures of up to 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.  And the employees recall seeing plastic cups -- which have a melting point of 160 degrees Fahrenheit – actually melting.

Other guests, including newspaper reviewers, have also observed the burning beam.

The hotel management doesn't call it a "death ray", they prefer the more friendly distinction "solar convergence phenomenon".  Gordon Absher, a spokesman for MGM Mirage says the hotel is addressing the problem, and comments, "Because of the curved, concave shape of that hotel, they sometimes get isolated pockets of high temperatures."

The hotel is baffled by how to solve the problem of the "death ray", though.  When initially constructing the building, they anticipated the issue and put a coating over the glass that absorbs 70 percent of the daytime sunlight.  However, that was not enough to reduce its painful effects.  And the ray sweeps across a wide area, making it hard to protect a specific region. 

Comments Mr. Absher, "This is quite literally an astronomical challenge," Absher said. "We are dealing with a moving target."

The mishap in architecture isn't as glaring as some of history's most notable mistakes -- such as the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, but it is pretty extraordinary.  It serves as a reminder that while many take the science and engineering of designing massive skyscrapers for granted these days, it remains a tricky business.

It looks like the Vdara may have exposed the wrong guest to the death ray, though --  Mr. Pintas is a Chicago-based lawyer.

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Apple Phenomenon
By Drag0nFire on 9/29/2010 3:40:02 PM , Rating: 5
I think this should be termed the "Apple Phenomenon". Prioritization of aesthetics over usability leading to overheating. After all, there's no functional reason for that building to be parabolic...

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By Sazabi19 on 9/29/2010 3:44:55 PM , Rating: 5
i wish i didn't comment 3 seconds before reading your comment, i would have rated it up so hard :(

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By DougF on 9/29/2010 4:28:37 PM , Rating: 3
Fortunately, I can still down-rate it...wait..darn it.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By Souka on 9/30/2010 6:26:30 PM , Rating: 4 we're getting upset that it's hot outside in Vegas?

Ohhh... 130F... jeez, it's 110F outside, add any refelection and it's bound to get hotter...

I think they SHOULD HAVE put a full mirror coat on the windows and make it a tourist attraction.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By Mjello on 10/5/2010 3:58:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah and called it the local warming phenomenon

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By The Insolent One on 9/29/2010 4:57:55 PM , Rating: 5
...In other news Apple Computer has just acquired the Vdara Hotel Las Vegas. We asked Mr Jobs about the "burning effect" encountered by some of the pool visitors.

Mr. Jobs replied by saying it was nothing to be alarmed at...obviously the customers are just laying wrong.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By Indianapolis on 9/29/2010 9:05:17 PM , Rating: 5
And in other news, George Lucas is suing the hotel for allowing its employees to use the term "Death ray", which is an obvious allusion to his "Death Star".

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By Lerianis on 9/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple Phenomenon
By JonnyDough on 9/30/2010 12:06:56 AM , Rating: 5
Al Gore would like the hotel to know that if they don't fix this concentration of parabolia soon we will all perish from global warming by 2020 unless it is offset with the purchase of some ozone credits.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By tastyratz on 9/30/2010 10:12:01 AM , Rating: 2
Al Gore would like everyone to know he invented the death ray.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By NicodemusMM on 9/30/2010 12:28:46 AM , Rating: 5
And in other other news, skeptics of Lucas' possible pending lawsuit claim that Lucas may have actually had a hand in the design of the hotel. Said skeptics believe that Vdara was originally intended to be Vdera, an anagram of Vader, but Lucas was voted down at the last minute. This, along with his disdain for the absorbent film, led to his storming out of several meetings.

The "Death Ray" term favored by employees may have been seeded by Lucas himself, but there is no evidence to support the theory at this time.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By marraco on 10/4/2010 12:18:28 PM , Rating: 5
The lesson is:

If you are a lawyer, --> stay on the dark side <--.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By MrBlastman on 9/30/2010 10:31:14 AM , Rating: 4
This is literally the stage for the perfect crime.

You bring with you someone you hate to Las Vegas, get them trashed in the hotel bar to the point of passing out, then drag them out to the pool and put them in the path of the death ray--and just wait.

The sun does the rest! Within a short time they'll be cooked to death and then you can blame the hotel and sue them for all their money!

Perfecto! You get rid of the person you hate and get rich at the same time.

This--is being a sociopath, at its greatest.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By solarrocker on 10/1/2010 9:53:35 AM , Rating: 3
I seem to have missed the
get rich at the same time

is this one of those..

Step 1: Get somebody wasted and bring to hotel
Step 2: ...
Step 3: Profit.

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By MrBlastman on 10/1/2010 10:40:38 AM , Rating: 2
With the amount of ludicrous and frivolous lawsuits out there--and an equally large number of absurd punitive rulings, given the hyperbole of the proposed crime, I'm pretty sure a lawyer could be found to make the money part happen. :)

That or have an insurance policy taken out on the guy without his knowledge (you can do this). The sun did it!

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By FITCamaro on 9/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Apple Phenomenon
By thefrozentin on 9/29/2010 5:23:35 PM , Rating: 5
I think the people that got burnt were just sitting in the wrong place. I also think that most of the hotels have this problem. ;)

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By jithvk on 9/29/2010 8:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the comparison between 'Death Ray' intensities of different hotels coming up in major Tech sites next day..

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By teng029 on 9/30/2010 8:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think this should be termed the "Apple Phenomenon". Prioritization of aesthetics over usability leading to overheating. After all, there's no functional reason for that building to be parabolic...

how long did you have to wait to finally get a chance to make a "clever" apple reference about something completely unrelated?

RE: Apple Phenomenon
By UnWeave on 10/1/2010 5:38:14 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, only on Dailytech could an article about a parabolic, sunlight-concentrating hotel lead directly to Apple-bashing.

By Camikazi on 9/29/2010 3:31:39 PM , Rating: 5
Wow, this building absorbs 70% of the rays and still has enough juice to burn, I wanna see this thing without the coating, Burn Baby Burn!

RE: 70%
By Silver2k7 on 9/29/2010 3:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
What about those glass windows wich is also a solar panel.. would that absorb enough heat from to remove the hot pockets, while also generating electricity ??

RE: 70%
By Silver2k7 on 9/29/2010 4:01:00 PM , Rating: 3
while replacing all the glass might seem like an expensive solution, I suspect it might pay for itslef rather quickly with all the electricity it would make.

if it would work to remove the hotspot phenomena that is ^^

RE: 70%
By MarkK02474 on 9/29/2010 4:34:19 PM , Rating: 3
In Vegas, rather than upgrade something like glass, isn't their solution to blow the whole building up and rebuild? Its what they do to sports venues without enough corporate suites.

RE: 70%
By xsilver on 9/30/2010 1:54:36 AM , Rating: 4
Considering its vegas, why not turn it into a game?!

Put out a twister mats all around for spots and
at 4'oclock if you are the one that gets burnt then free bloody mary for you!

RE: 70%
By solarrocker on 9/29/2010 4:00:24 PM , Rating: 3
I was thinking the same thing, it doing this with 30% of the power, what will it do at full throttle. Come on baby show us the heat!

RE: 70%
By MarkK02474 on 9/29/2010 5:02:23 PM , Rating: 5
70% absorption is a misleading specification. That is likely for visible light blinding room residents. Infra-red light is probably >70% reflected to reduce air conditioning costs, thus heating beverages and lawyers.

Many specifications are designed to confuse because people have put their faith in numbers. The hotel is trying to mislead critics and plaintiffs. Audio specifications similarly never tell you if a piece of gear will sound good. More camera megapixels also has little to do with image quality and nothing to do with image noise, sensitivity, or dynamic range. Yet, more megapixels is promoted as always better, while a bigger image sensor is usually more important.

RE: 70%
By Lerianis on 9/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: 70%
By MarkK02474 on 9/30/2010 1:15:26 AM , Rating: 5
Wrong on both counts. A 3MP cell phone camera is much worse than an 9 yr. old 3MP Canon D30 SLR in quality, even.

70% of "all" is likely 98% of UV light, 80% of visible, and 5% of IR (heat). No coating is linear from DC to cosmic rays, nor do we want that. My whole point is that the hotel is being deceptive with its "facts".

RE: 70%
By theapparition on 9/30/2010 8:59:38 AM , Rating: 3
To strengthen the OP's point, unless this surface is a perfect reflector, some energy gets absorbed across the entire spectrum. However, it get's re-radiated at it's current temperature (see Plank and Blackbody radiation). Re-emitting energy at ambient temperatures, or anywhere near ambient, results in IR.

This phenomenon is exactly why greenhouses work, why dark car interiors get hotter than light car interiors, how lightbulbs work, why an electric element starts off black and as it gets hotter goes to red, orange, yellow. And also why despite what coating they put on, you'll still radiate IR unless you somehow absorb that energy and then dissipate the absorbed energy somewhere else.

RE: 70%
By VahnTitrio on 9/30/2010 10:12:09 AM , Rating: 2
I thought this too. To be honest though even 160 F is not unheard of for Las Vegas. Our desert profiles routinely go hotter than that for testing. I know for a fact surfaces in cars will get much hotter. Realistically you can burn yourself on anything in Vegas.

RE: 70%
By solarrocker on 10/1/2010 9:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
you can burn yourself on anything in Vegas.

Which brings a whole new meaning to the popular saying "oooh buuuuuurn" (according to tv, which we all know is the go all for popular sayings)

RE: 70%
By inperfectdarkness on 10/1/2010 5:34:11 AM , Rating: 2

the LA opera house had identical problems. the building had to be "de-buffed" to remove reflectiveness from the metal exterior.

What a building
By RugMuch on 9/29/2010 3:22:55 PM , Rating: 5
A building that cleans up the trash and slime. WOW!

That's right lawyers.

RE: What a building
By Amiga500 on 9/29/2010 4:32:03 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, I don't think the pond scum died.

Ach well.... as an alternative I reckon we could decommission various weapons on lawyers - it would avoid them falling into the hands of criminals/terrorists etc.

Two birds with but one stone...

RE: What a building
By Homer Jay Simpson on 9/29/2010 5:08:24 PM , Rating: 2
Them?!?! the lawyers or the weapons? :P

RE: What a building
By Amiga500 on 9/30/2010 4:02:13 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't inflict a lawyer on my worst enemy.

Have a heart man!

Obviously talking just about the weapons ;-)

RE: What a building
By marvdmartian on 9/30/2010 8:39:19 AM , Rating: 1
I guess next time, we'll just have to make certain the lawyer has had more alcohol. Should slow down his reaction time!

Seriously, if they could figure out a way to aim this effect, they'd make MILLIONS off of it!

RE: What a building
By MarkK02474 on 9/29/2010 5:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
Spontaneous combustion it isn't quite. Could reduce usage of gold chains and toupee's (like having to remove metal for a steam room or sauna) by the pool.

Better not melt plastic surgery implants!

RE: What a building
By Omega215D on 9/30/2010 2:02:21 AM , Rating: 2
It's preparing the lawyer for his stay in Hotel Hell...

RE: What a building
By kroker on 9/30/2010 6:24:09 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, good thing this happened to a lawyer or to some other useless rich snobs, and not to a more important person like a garbage man/cleaning woman/pool cleaner/etc who do actual work, something useful for our society. No, I'm not sarcastic.

Wait for it...
By CurseTheSky on 9/29/2010 3:34:15 PM , Rating: 3
This just in - Vdara hotel "going green" by relocating pool to newly acquired lot behind hotel ("for customers' privacy") and utilizing the resulting vacant space to install a complex array of solar panels.

- OR -

Vdara hotel now advertising "express" poolside tanning...

RE: Wait for it...
By dragonbif on 9/29/2010 5:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
OR they can test the latest sunscreen there! Lets see how well the Banana Boat works under the death ray =)

RE: Wait for it...
By sleepeeg3 on 9/29/2010 8:33:47 PM , Rating: 3
Just put a screen over the pool...

Energy star windows also a problem
By MarkK02474 on 9/29/2010 4:45:24 PM , Rating: 3
Regular residential windows with E-glass (IR reflective, vapor deposited metal coating) are a growing problem. Older houses, densely packed are getting old windows replaced with them, partly due to tax credits and partly going from a R-1 to R-2 insulation improvement.

Often, a house opposite a 3-4 foot alley has vinyl siding that will melt with the right solar angles. It demonstrates operation of the infra-red reflecting coating, but the neighbor becomes displeased.

The same IR reflective coating reduces cooling costs in Vegas, but targets lawyers.

By YashBudini on 9/29/2010 6:37:16 PM , Rating: 5
The same IR reflective coating reduces cooling costs in Vegas, but targets lawyers

Sounds perfect, what's the problem?

By Mitch101 on 9/29/2010 3:35:53 PM , Rating: 2
Joke or legit? The burn in the paper says Vdara which is the name on the building. Im assuming its true and someone photoshopped the burn into the paper to assist the original article.

RE: Shins?
By Sazabi19 on 9/29/2010 3:44:06 PM , Rating: 3
I'm thinkin legit, he probably bought the newspaper (it was a newspaper bag) from the hotel or it is complimentary, so is the bag that has its name on it. Alot of hotels do stuff like that, have their name engraved into EVERYTHING.

RE: Shins?
By dragonbif on 9/29/2010 5:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think your right, I bet they were black letters so it was the first part to melt.

Real Genius Popcorn House Pic
By Yeah on 9/29/2010 4:16:07 PM , Rating: 3
The pic needs to be the Real Genius ' Death Ray ' with mega nerd basking in its Light in the popcorn house.


RE: Real Genius Popcorn House Pic
By DougF on 9/29/2010 4:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
How about a mobile/robotic solar-powered popcorn machine programmed to follow the "death ray" on it's course around the pool area?

There's gotta be enough in there for a senior engineering project...

By CarbonJoe on 9/29/2010 10:50:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but you'd need a phase conjugate tracking system. A big mirror makes a big beam.

By GaryJohnson on 9/29/2010 4:04:11 PM , Rating: 3
The hotel management doesn't call it a "death ray"

I wouldn't call it a death ray either. I think a "ray" has to cause "death" or have the proven potential to cause "death" before you can call it a "death ray".

There's no mention of any even minor physical injury to the lawyer, just a "burning feeling". I'm sure he was severely emotionally traumatized though.

RE: Death-Ray
By Omega215D on 9/30/2010 2:25:59 AM , Rating: 3
I'm burnin', I'm burnin', I'm burnin' to sue...

By KIAman on 9/29/2010 6:58:13 PM , Rating: 2
So, after all the use this hotel has seen and a lawyer is the first to complain after being burned?

Where's the following lawsuit?

RE: Lawsuit
By Makaveli on 9/29/2010 7:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ask and you shall receive.

Now that this story is on the internet those lawsuits are coming!

RE: Lawsuit
By Lerianis on 9/29/2010 10:38:55 PM , Rating: 1
Correction: Not the first to complain, the first to make a big deal out of it. Other people probably were too stupid to realize that something was going on and thought it was normal.

Not gonna be pretty
By lainofthewired on 9/29/2010 3:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like the Vrada may have exposed the wrong guest to the death ray, though -- Mr. Pintas is a Chicago-based lawyer.

They don't come any worse than these guys, don't they?

RE: Not gonna be pretty
By FITCamaro on 9/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Not gonna be pretty
By IcePickFreak on 9/30/2010 1:42:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah how coincidental. I seen an article on this posted elsewhere where they stated women's handbags have been melted etc. Surely this lawyer didn't see dollar signs reflecting off the windows and position himself accordingly.

It's called preparedness.
By fifolo on 9/29/2010 7:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
That hotel will be ready to repel the invading giant ants when they come from the Nevada desert.

RE: It's called preparedness.
By inaphasia on 9/29/2010 9:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man would also be an interesting one to watch.

Screw the fix
By Rookierookie on 9/29/2010 6:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
Take out the protective coating, sell it as an attraction.

$15 for 15 minutes of exposure to the death ray. People would be queueing up for it, or at least queueing up to put their mother-in-law into it.

They could be smart about this
By MadDogMorgan on 9/29/2010 9:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
#1 They should have brains enough to build a crescent shaped pool and use the death-ray to heat the water the hotel uses. Then they could hop around from one foot to the other, smiting their chests and raving about how "green" they are.

#2 I bet their architect is in a bit of "hot water" over this ...

It's Just a Shame...
By mmatis on 9/29/2010 9:46:53 PM , Rating: 2
that they couldn't do this right. I mean, only SLIGHTLY burning a lawyer? Why couldn't they help him join Teddy and Robert? Now THAT would have been a major service to this country!

Death Ray
By owyheewine on 9/30/2010 10:17:47 AM , Rating: 2
A death ray for lawyers. Wow, what a great idea!

Go green, MGM!
By rvd2008 on 9/30/2010 1:05:04 PM , Rating: 2
Remove that pesky "coating over the glass that absorbs 70 percent of the daytime sunlight" and put a power plant in the focus. Could probably power the entire hotel :-)

The glass could be half full...
By lawrance on 10/1/2010 6:17:44 PM , Rating: 2
They're spinning this story all wrong... They should be saying something like "Lost Wages hotel offers free accelerated poolside tanning!"

By blueboy09 on 10/1/2010 7:31:54 PM , Rating: 2
This has to be the craziest, f*cked up thing that I have seen, and to top it all off, the person who ended up being "fried" was a damned lawyer from Chicago. Wow. That's all I can say. Human ingenuity strikes yet again people! - BLUEBOY

Simple Solution
By Jkirk3279 on 10/5/2010 1:48:27 PM , Rating: 2
Just design in a shallow arch that matches the path of the "Death Ray".

Put solar cells on top of the arch.

It might even look beautiful.
And they could pretend they intended to do that all along, and that's why the building is a parabolic trough.

I read about somebody doing this years ago.

But it was better designed, so that during the summer the beam focused harmlessly at the base of the building, and during the winter the lower angle of the Sun focused it on the courtyard making it more pleasant.

Vdara not Vrada
By fezzik1620 on 9/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: Vdara not Vrada
By Einy0 on 9/29/2010 4:17:31 PM , Rating: 1
Alert Spelling Troll above... ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RE: Vdara not Vrada
By SunAngel on 9/29/2010 4:28:49 PM , Rating: 5
***Alert*** Tattletale above!

RE: Vdara not Vrada
By morphologia on 9/29/2010 4:48:29 PM , Rating: 5
Disinterested reader here.
Enough with the nanny brigade...let's get back to amusing and ruthlessly sarcastic commentary. :p

On-topic: I guess this is the scale the Mythbusters needed for their Archimedes Death Ray experiment. Not easy to do on their budget though...maybe they should revisit on -site at this hotel?

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