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"God is a mean kid sitting on an anthill with a magnifying glass, and I'm the ant."
Bruce, Bruce Almighty

Someone uses a magnifying glass or similar optical instrument to concentrate sunlight to kill, burn, or melt something. This may take a few different forms.

Children at play may experiment with using setting fires or killing small insects with a magnifying glass. At times this may be used to demonstrate that the child is an Enfant Terrible, or (in works written from the perspective of the insect) that Humans Are Cthulhu. On the other hand, sometimes children who do this are just portrayed as scientifically curious.

In some cases, a larger lens may be used as an Improvised Weapon. Many attempts at this (both fictional and real) are inspired by the story that the ancient Greek scientist and engineer Archimedes used this sort of contrivance to destroy a Roman fleet during the 214-212 BCE Siege of Syracuse. Supposedly, he focused the rays of the sun using an array of polished shields, mirrors, or lenses. (Sadly, MythBusters tested this example of the trope — three times — and found it less-than-effective.)

Finally, people stranded in the wilderness may use magnifying glasses in order to set the fire they need to survive, which is possible, although often difficult.

This trope may seem fairly modern but it's in fact Older Than Feudalism. In Aristophanes' ancient Greek comedy The Clouds, the gods use a set of mirrors or lenses to ignite the Olympic Torch (a smaller device traditionally lights the torch for the running in modern days).

Also, this is Truth in Television. It works, but not as quickly as usually depicted.

Related to The Power of the Sun and Sundial Waypoint. Not to be confused with a Kill Sat, which uses a remote-controlled satellite and may or may not actually use sunlight, though there is overlap with some high-tech examples of this trope. See also Ray Gun and Energy Weapon, of which this could be considered a fairly primitive version.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used by Nova Shenron in Dragon Ball GT. He summons a giant lens and use it to fire an extremely hot sunbeam.
  • Dr. STONE:
    • The Tournament Arc features possibly the most badass instance of this trope. Chrome ends up faced off against Magma and has no hope of winning in a straight fight, so he uses a pair of glasses that were left on the arena floor to try and light Magma's clothes on fire. It takes a massive string of contrivances to work; since eyeglass lenses are concave, Chrome has to fill them with his own sweat and tears to create a convex lens, then hold absolutely still to keep from disturbing the surface of the water. Likewise, Magma needs to be held in place for 60 seconds, so Gen claims that he cast a spell that will make Magma's heart explode if he moves a muscle, adding that he can only maintain the spell for one minute. The plan works perfectly because Magma buys the bluff completely and because Chrome's dedication to saving the woman he loves allows him to stay stock-still and keep the water "lens" from breaking.
    • There is also a traditional example, from a flashback featuring Senku doing this as a child.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Mobile Suit Gundam has the Solar System, a superweapon wielded by The Federation that is a scaled-up version of the old Archimedes "Death Ray". In this case it's somewhat more plausible, because the array consists of four million mirrors, each the size of a small building, and they're all aimed by computers. Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory introduces the Solar System II, which is much more efficient thanks to better materials and targeting software, meaning it can achieve the same destructive power with only 408,000 mirrors.
  • A filler villain in Naruto has the ability to create a giant lens to fry people with.
  • Nichijou: In one scene, Mai and Mio ask Yuuko if they can borrow her eraser. Yuuko has them guess which hand she has the eraser in, and after a few missteps Mai pulls out a magnifying glass to burn the back of Yuuko's hand, which she promptly declares as cheating.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 5 episode 50, to fend off an incoming swarm of bees, Smart S. holds up a bunch of leaves and Careful S. uses a magnifying glass to reflect a ray of heat onto the leaves, burning them and creating smoke that bothers the bees.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 1, Wolffy tries to use a magnifying glass to light his cannon after the goats use water guns to extinguish his lighter. It suddenly becomes night before he can get it to work.

  • Bill Engvall talks about what a great day it was when you discovered you could do this as a kid ("You got to be God!"). Then he goes on to talk about when he was doing this and saw an ant on his arm...
    Bill Engvall: Let me tell you something: you burn your arm with a magnifying glass, you're on your own. You can't even tell your mom, because she gives that face like, "Oh...he is that stupid."

    Comic Books 
  • Adam Strange of The DCU fights one of these on a gigantic scale as a Monster of the Week in his Strange Adventures appearances. He does so again in Batman: The Brave and the Bold but with Batman and Aquaman's help.
  • This is the supervillain's plan, coupled with a reagent that reacts to filtered light, in the Batman comic Messiah of the Crimson Sun.
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #8, Indy, Marion and squad of Nazis are locked in a cavern by a Lost Tribe that splintered off from Atlantis before Atlantis sank. They think they are being held to be executed in the morning, but the cave it self is the execution chamber. As the sun ruses, it is focused through the crystal 'skylights' in the cave roof into beams of laser-like strength and intensity.
  • In one old (1960s/1970s) Green Lantern comic, the villain uses a giant flying magnifying glass as a weapon to burn his opponents. He uses time travel to acquire it.
  • In Lobo/Mask, when Lobo gets the Mask, he goes on a galaxy-shaking rampage of random violence, at one point doing this to people of some unfortunate planet.
  • In one issue of Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Doctor Doom builds a flying ring base whose center is actually a giant magnifying glass. However, he doesn't unleash it at once, instead opening its shutters slowly and making everyone suffer from increased heat. Spidey's able to stop him, though.
  • In a Superman story, Superman is feeling sick and uses giant magnifying glasses to focus the suns rays onto him. Since he's powered by the sun, it gives him a needed boost of energy.
  • The early Thorgal story "The Fall of Brek Zarith" has the current lord of the titular fortress destroy half an invading Viking fleet with Archimedes-inspired mirrors.
  • In the Tintin book Prisoners of the Sun, this is how the Incas plan to light the fire that will burn the protagonists at the stake.
  • In Watchmen, one of the souvenirs in the Minutemen's clubhouse is "Moloch's Solar Mirror Weapon". It's not seen in use until one of the prequel comics.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Calvin and Hobbes strip had Stupendous Man use a giant magnifying glass from an observatory telescope in order to fry Calvin's school off the map. Of course, since it was all in Calvin's imagination, his Mom doesn't believe him when he says that the school got fried, and has him do his math homework.
  • The Far Side: Two ants are on their hill, one of them saying "Now I'm starting to feel kinda warm!" while looming over them is the shadow of a kid with a magnifying glass.
  • FoxTrot: One strip has Jason seemingly roasting ants with a magnifying glass and them eating them to gross Paige out. It turns out they were really just raisins. Another time, he and Marcus were playing detective, but got sidetracked setting ants on fire.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Ant Bully hides from some of those.
  • Antz: Used for an Independence Day spoof when a mysterious round object floats overhead ("It's beautiful!"), then a deathray-like beam shoots down causing the insects to burst into flames. Turns out the anthill is located in a public park where a kid is using a magnifying glass.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: Sid's little brother Marshall uses a piece of clear ice in this manner to burn an ant hill. We then pull back to see Sid's Granny doing the same thing to Marshall's head.
  • Toy Story: Sid burns Woody's forehead with a magnifying glass while "interrogating" him. It serves as a Chekhov's Gun, as it gives Woody the idea of using Buzz's helmet to light the rocket that takes them back to Andy.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: To start a campfire, Simon demonstrates this by using his glasses as a magnifying glass to concentrate the energy from the sun. When Jeanette comments on it being impressive, Simon, distracted, accidentally redirects the beam to his foot!
    Simon: HOT! HOT! HOT! [limps around the beach and jumps into the ocean, then sighs in relief] Ah...
  • The Archimedes Death Ray variant of this trope is shown in Cabiria, starting with a scene where Archimedes experiments with mirrors in his lab, followed by a big action setpiece in which his mirrors set fire to the Roman fleet.
  • Die Another Day's Kill Sat is essentially this, being one large mirror with a center focusing array to concentrate the light into a single, extremely hot beam.
  • In Goodnight Mommy, Elias is shown burning the wall with a magnifying glass. Later, he uses it to torture the mother.
  • In Sands of the Kalahari, Dr. Bondarahkai uses a lens from his glasses to concentrate the sun's rays and start a fire.

    Fan Works 
  • In the sequel to Child of the Storm, Harry figures out how to jury rig a series of refractory mirrors to channel and focus a vast amount of sunlight to give Clark an emergency super-charge. It works like a charm, though since he's the regulator on the amount of power and thus in the way, he gets some nasty burns.

  • In The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, Dr. Clawbonnie uses a lens made of ice to start a fire.
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: In "Mile 81", Pete Simmons uses this to set fire to the human eating monster car, effectively driving it off.
  • In Bodacious Space Pirates, the Odette II is being fired upon by a pirate ship using optical targeting. Marika reconfigures the solar sails to reflect Tau Ceti's sunlight directly onto the pirate ship, blinding their spotter and heating the hull. She stops just short of melting the ship.
  • Mentioned in Changes, with rays of sunlight hot enough to melt metal.
  • In Codex Alera, a group of Knights Aeris — windcrafters who can manipulate air for flight or as a lens, among other things — under orders of main character Tavi work together to create a quarter-mile wide magnifying glass that focuses its light down to another windcrafter who redirects it as a solar-powered Death Ray.
  • A pair of lenses from a telescope are used by the castaways to start a fire in The Coral Island.
  • Dolphin Trilogy: During Della's time on Crab Island in Dolphin Boy, she uses her watch lens to light a cooking fire.
  • In Dr. Franklin's Island, the castaways manage to scavenge a magnifying glass and some notebook paper and use it to start a fire.
  • Piggy's glasses are used to start fires in Lord of the Flies. Only farsighted lenses can do that, and Piggy is one of the few boys who look past the moment.
  • Alice, being a specialist in light magic, uses a spell to this effect in The Magicians. It's not very practical, however — she was using it not long before sunset, and, after noting the "lens" was a mile long, it still took her quite a long time just to burn through a door.
  • Cyrus Smith MacGyvers a water-filled lens from two watch glasses in The Mysterious Island, as the castaways initially have no other means of starting the fire.
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude, gypsies put a pile of dry hay in the middle of the street and set it on fire with a gigantic magnifying glass. This makes José Arcadio Buendía think that it can be used as as a weapon of war.
  • Used for a Bait-and-Switch in the drabble Research Project 12B by Richard Cassidy, in which an apparent Mad Scientist's Tested on Humans plot turns out to be a sadistic kid with a magnifying glass frying ants.
  • Septimus Heap: Jenna used a magnifying glass she had stolen earlier to reflect the light onto and burn Simon's face. While being on a flying dragon.
  • In the short story "A Slight Case of Sunstroke" by Arthur C. Clarke, a soccer-crazy Central American country loses to a hated rival which bribed the referee. They get revenge when the home crowd fans suddenly focus their metal-backed programmes on the referee, who is incinerated from the reflected sunlight.
  • In Small Gods, the Omnian fleet that attacks Ephebe is set ablaze by the rays from a massive mirror in a tower in the harbor. This is a direct reference to the ancient legend of Archimedes' "heat ray" in the siege of Syracuse.
  • The spell Megiddo from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a Beam Spam version of this trope. Rimuru uses countless water elementals to focus and refract light into a multitude of lethal beams that are capable of decimating an entire army with Ludicrous Precision.
  • In The Witches, using a magnifying glass to kill ants is listed as one of the misdeeds of Bruno the Spoiled Brat.
  • X-Wing Series: Occurs in Wedge's Gamble. As part of a lunatic plan to take down the city-planet Coruscant's orbital shields, thus rendering it vulnerable to invasion, the Rogues require a massive thunderstorm (to take out the power grid). To get one, they settle on vaporizing all the water in a reservoir by redirecting and refocusing an orbital satellite. Used as intended, the satellite focuses sunlight on portions of Imperial City to make the temperature more livable. Used as unintended, it vaporizes the target — reservoir and all — in a matter of seconds.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Most wilderness-survival shows, like Dual Survival or Survivorman, will demonstrate this method of fire-starting at least once.

By Series:

  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: This afternoon I tried to borrow Mary's magnifying glass. You know, to burn some ants.
    Sally: Of course, go on.
    Dick: So anyway, she's like, "No, you'll break it!" And I'm all, "I will not!" And she's like, "It's mine, you can't have it!" So we had this huge fight. Finally, she let me borrow it... when she wasn't looking.
    Sally: Let me guess, you broke it.
    Dick: Yes! A particularly large queen burst into flames and I got scared and dropped it on the sidewalk.
  • In 1000 Ways to Die, a jerk builds a giant version of one and uses it to destroy objects for his own amusement and he also tricks people into sticking their hands into the beam. He meets his end when he tries to cook a can of beans with it. The can explodes in his face, causing him to thrash around until he falls in the path of the beam, which quickly burns through his head.
  • Lil' Bat tries to fry some ants this way in a cartoon segment of The Aquabats! Super Show!. The ants retaliate by eating him.
  • Batman (1966): Catwoman once put Batman and Robin in a Death Trap that worked this way.
  • The two-part season 9 CSI: NY opener ends with the perp, a serial arsonist/killer, useing his glasses to direct a beam of sunlight onto a paperback book he's reading in his cell, causing the pages to start smoking as the camera fades to black.
  • Doctor Who:
  • An episode of The Little Rascals involved Porky and Buckwheat having a bunch of firecrackers. Spanky and Alfalfa "confiscated" them by posing as a G-Man. Spanky tried to set off the firecrackers with a magnifying glass, but the school bell rang. Alfalfa took the firecrackers and stuck them in his back pocket — and Porky picked up the magnifying glass. During class, Alfalfa is called on to recite "The Charge of the Light Brigade", and this is when Porky uses the magnifying glass to set off the firecrackers.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "The Wish Child", Mac lights a fuse without a match by concentrating sunlight on the fuse with his watch crystal. He removes the crystal with his Swiss army knife and holds it so a fine point of light is focused at the fuse's end.
  • This accidentally happens in the Dunphy house in Modern Family when a see-through Christmas ornament ball is placed in direct sunlight — which causes it to burn a small hole in the couch, which the parents mistake for a cigarette burn and prompts their attempts to ground or at least discipline their children for supposedly smoking. (For an ornament to focus the light like that, however, it would have to be solid, and thus pretty heavy.)
  • As noted above, MythBusters tested the Archimedes Death Ray three times (2004, 2006, and 2010) and all three times busted the myth, finding it impossible to focus light from shore mirrors well enough to set fire to a wooden ship. (Aside from the giant-lens-as-Death Ray myth, the show also tested whether it's possible to light fires with lenses made out of shaped ice or the polished bottoms of soda cans.)
    Jamie: Our death ray doesn't seem to be working right. I'm standing right in it, and I'm not dead yet.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Demons and Angels", when Lister denies that Evil Lister is part of him, Evil Kryten says "He's the little boy who, on a hot summer's day, held a magnifying glass to his best friend's neck and watched him burn." This disturbing-sounding incident is not elaborated on.
  • In Salute Your Shorts, Sponge and Donkeylips have to perform a task of starting a fire without using matches. After a while of rubbing sticks together, nothing appears to be working. Z.Z. then stops by, revealing she has a solution. Since matches couldn't be used, she takes off Sponge's glasses and uses them to start the fire.
  • Shadow and Bone: In "The Heart Is an Arrow", Alina Starkov finds herself locked inside a strongbox, so uses an eyeglass to focus her sun powers on the lock, burning it out.
  • In an episode of Shazam! (1974), Captain Marvel creates a lens out of sand by rubbing the sand very fast, in order to focus the sun on something.

  • 'Old Master Q'' sees the titular character using a magnifying glass to cook a fish for lunch.

  • In the Brad Paisley song "Anything Like Me", the narrator imagines what his son will be like in the future, and says what said son will do if he's anything like his father. Among the activities listed is trying to melt a Tonka truck with a magnifying glass.
  • The video for Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" features a couple of little boys frying bugs this way, only to have the tables turned on them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One Dungeons & Dragons supplement of amusing traps included a breastplate with a massive gem in the center that radiated magic. It did nothing while in the dungeon, but upon being struck by sunlight, it immediately focused an intense beam of concentrated light into the chest of the wearer, causing massive amounts of damage.
    • The Dungeons & Dragons 3E adventure "The Eye of the Sun" centers around a magical artifact that acts as one of these. It's used by a cult of lizardfolk to burn a village down.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, one of the marauders (insane chaos mages) was rumoured to use a magnifying glass from a cereal box as a magic tool for his energy attacks.
  • The Mutants & Masterminds adventure "High Noon", part of the Lame Mage Evil Genius adventures, Dr. Null post-humously launches a doomsday device that deploys a cloud of small nanotechnology crystals that float around and focus beams of indiscriminate destruction from the sun's rays to destroy major cities.
  • Warhammer has two war engines based on the focusing of solar magic with lenses and crystals. The Empire has the Luminark of Hysh, which uses an array of eight giant lenses to focus a mote of light magic into the ravenously destructive Solheim's Bolt of Illumination spell. The Lizardmen, meanwhile, have the Solar Engine — a giant faceted crystal held in a retaining harness that produces a similar burning death ray effect.

    Video Games 
  • One level in Age of Empires has Archimedes design mirror towers that are represented in-game as shooting lasers.
  • In RTS Army Men games, this appears as a super weapon in some games. Due to the fact that all units are either little plastic men or (rarely) bugs, it works fairly well.
  • In Crossfire, "magnifying glass" is a somewhat useful (increases Dexterity when held) Joke Item — a weapon with minimum damage and ant slaying property. Works even underground.
  • In the text adventure Dragonsworld, Amsel signals an airship by using his magnifying glass to ignite a pile of leaves.
  • In Gruntz, any Gruntz using the magnifying glass spy kit Toolz will use this as their attack.
  • In The Incredible Machine magnifying glasses are used to set things on fire. With a flashlight.
  • The level 11 quest in Kingdom of Loathing has you assembling the Staff of Ed and bringing it to a small pyramid in the desert with a scale model of the Seaside Town in it, under the impression that it will be a Sundial Waypoint and show you where the Holy MacGuffin is buried. What actually happens, though, is that the focused sunbeam sets the model on fire, revealing a trapdoor — the MacGuffin is inside the pyramid. The "Actually Ed the Undying" challenge path reveals that it's made of matchheads.
  • In The New Order: Last Days of Europe, a Nazi Germany led by Göring can try to build the Sun Gun (see Real Life) as part of their plans to fight the entire world. Not only does it fail, it will eventually fall — and could be the event that kills Oskar Dirlewanger.
  • The Magnifying Grass from Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time. It uses your sun to fire very powerful shots of light, and its Plant Food upgrade causes it to fire a concentrated beam that deals heavy damage over time and burns up zombies it kills.
  • In the Rise Of Rome expansion to Age of Empires, there is a scenario that places you in control of the ancient Romans invading the Greek city of Syracuse. Surrounding the city's seacoast are several towers that shoot beams of light that set your ships on fire, referring to Archimedes and his heat ray.
  • The lens from a broken telescope provides one of several ways for Mina to start fires in Return to Mysterious Island.
  • Invoked in Shadow of the Comet for a Solve the Soup Cans puzzle. Basically, the hero is stuck in a lighthouse, and cultists are bashing at the door. Here, he finds a pair of wings and a candle. Using the magnifying glass in the inventory, he melts the candle to add wax to the wings. Guess what you do with the wings.
  • Appears as one of Penny's microgames in WarioWare: Smooth Moves. (BURN!)

  • In Girl Genius the heliolux airfleet, part of the Wulfenbach Empire's forces, has weaponized the interaction of magnifying lenses and sunlight on a large scale and uses their lenses to set people and towns on fire and "melt people into little puddles." The Jägers prevent them from participating in the assault on Mechanicsburg.
  • xkcd: Variant. One "What If?" asks "Can you use a magnifying glass and moonlight to light a fire?" Turns out that the answer is no, because magnifying light doesn't change the fact that the source (the moon) is too cold to start a fire.

    Web Videos 
  • In 7-Second Riddles, a few riddles involve characters surviving a deserted island by making fire with their glasses, or in one case, with a camera lens.
  • In Half in the Bag, after George Lucas reveals his plan to destroy all the original VHS copies of Star Wars, a montage of him doing just that is shown, with one part featuring this.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, one of the ancient inventions built by Gummi Bears' ancestors is a signal machine called the Gummiscope, which is also capable of generating a devastating beam that can burn practically anything. While the Gummis try to use it to contact the Great Gummis overseas, Igthorn intend to use it to conqueror Dunwyn. Knowing that the scope is too powerful for anyone to be in control of, the Gummis destroy it by tearing out its supports with a flood.
  • In one Adventure Time Ad Bumper, Ice King is trying to burn a giant ant. He then aims the magnifying glass at Finn, yelling, "You want some of this?"
  • The Angry Beavers: The beginning of the episode "Homer Loners" has Daggett try to burn some ants with a magnifying glass; the ants just hold up their own tiny mirror and reflect the sun beam back at Daggett, burning him to a crisp.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "Wag the Song", Jimmy Pesto installs a metal awning on his restaurant, which concentrates sunlight into Bob's Burgers, making it too hot inside. Out of desperation, Bob tries to do the same to Pesto with a small mirror.
  • Family Guy: In "No Giggity, No Doubt", Quagmire starts a forest fire by burning a hole through a map with a magnifying glass.
  • In the Futurama episode "Crimes of the Hot", Prof. Wernstrom's plan to stop global warming is a giant mirror that reflects excess light away from the Earth. Then a small piece of space debris knocks it askew, and a beam of concentrated light slices through the city.
  • In the Goof Troop episode "Gunfight at the Okie-Dokie Corral", when Max is forced to wear glasses, Goofy tells the story of his cowboy ancestor, who defeated a gunslingernote  by wearing glasses, mostly because the sunlight shined through them and set off the gunslinger's belt of bullets. After the story, Max is starting to feel better about wearing glasses when the sun comes out and shines through them, causing him to practically weaponize them, to Goofy's panic.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • In the pilot "Meet the Reaper", Mandy uses a magnifying glass to melt Billy's plastic army men.
    • She does it again in "Toys Will Be Toys", this time to torch a shrunken Billy and his living Dinobonoid toys (both the result of Grim's magic).
      Billy: Mandy, what are you doing?! It's me, Billy!
      Mandy: I know. But when will I get a chance like this again?
  • In several episodes of Inspector Gadget, Dr. Claw and M.A.D employ weapons of this nature:
    • In "The Emerald Duck", Dr. Claw seeks to claim a powerful crystal-weapon that can convert sunlight into deadly beams of destruction. To ensure that he doesn't get his hands on it, Penny and Brain overload it with Penny's laser, causing it to explode.
    • In another episode, M.A.D agents abduct astrophysicists and trick them into building a heat cannon which they intend to use to blast the Tower of London and force London to pay Dr. Claw's demands. Fortunately, Penny manages to cause it to collapse before it can fire.
    • One episode features a computer-controlled space station with a giant magnifying lens which is meant to be used to evaporate all the water on Earth, until the computer which is in control decides to destroy the lens to prevent it from being used for its evil purpose.
  • The title character of Johnny Bravo does this in one episode; however, his real goal is to use the light from the ants to burn a hole in the sun.
  • Ned's Newt: "I really shouldn't be wearing my magnifying-glass-hat now, should I?"
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "Seeds of Disaster", Supes uses the lens from an observatory telescope to focus the sun's rays to incinerate the alien seed pods.
  • In one Oggy and the Cockroaches episode, the roaches attempt to toast Oggy with one, except that in lieu of a magnifying glass they use a bunch of solar panels (which Oggy installed) as a mirror.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop: In the episode "Hair-Raising Harness Race", while Penelope is trapped in a shed filled with explosives, the Hooded Claw has the Ant Hill Mob bound with a rope and hanging from a tree limb. A magnifying glass is set so that the sun's rays will burn the rope and send the mob plummeting into a deep chasm.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In the episode "Bubblevision", the girls have to deal with a giant ant which their heat vision doesn't even hurt. When Bubbles, who has been given Nerd Glasses to correct her vison, tries to help, and the lenses concentrate her eye beams so much that they obliterate the ant. The animation shows the beams getting wider to make it look more impressive, even though that would mean the glasses would be scattering the light.
  • Robot Chicken:
  • The Simpsons:
    • At the end of "Marge vs. the Monorail", we hear a voiceover from Marge:
      And that was the only folly the people of Springfield ever embarked upon. Except for the Popsicle stick skyscraper... And the 50-foot magnifying glass... [the sun focused through the magnifying glass sets the Popsicle stick skyscraper on fire] And that escalator to nowhere...
    • At the start of "Bart of Darkness", Hans Moleman's coke-bottle glasses accidentally set his shirt on fire when he steps outside on a hot summer's day.
      Moleman: Oh, rats...
    • Bart is seen melting a toy soldier with a magnifying glass in one episode, as seen in the trope image.
    • Subverted in "Das Bus" when the children are stranded on an island. Nelson takes Milhouse's glasses to use for starting a campfire, suggesting this trope. He raises them up to the sun for a brief moment, before bashing a piece of flint against them. To Nelson's credit, it works.
  • The Smurfs (1981): In the episode "The Smurf Fire Brigade", Papa Smurf accidentally leaves his magnifying glass on the table outside before going into his house to take a nap. The magnifying glass focuses the sun's rays to start burning a spot onto the table until eventually the whole top of the table catches on fire. Lazy smells smoke and realizes he's in a dangerous spot, so he crawls out and yells fire, catching the attention of Papa Smurf and all the other Smurfs. Quickly a Smurf brings a bucket of water to the table to put out the fire, making all the Smurfs cheer.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "Dangerous Business", Kaz, trapped in a cargo crate that is about to be dropped into the ocean, uses a lens to focus the beam of a welding torch to make it powerful enough to cut through the door.
  • The Tick had an inverted version of this, with evil giant ants that planned to deliver Karmic Deaths to all of humanity via one gigantic magnifying glass.
  • Total Drama: Glasses are sometimes used to concentrate solar energy.
    • In "Dial M for Merger", the contestants each are in charge of a ticking stink bomb they need to cut one wire of. Beth cuts her bomb's blue wire by taking off her glasses and using them to concentrate sunlight onto the wire. Inspired, Justin places his mirror under Beth's glasses to channel the sunlight onto his bomb's blue wire too.
    • Ants infest Pimapotew Kinosewak's tree house in "This Is the Pits!". Max, being only a small-minded villain, turns a magnifying glass on them and burns several to death before his own bed catches fire. Somehow, he thinks it's the ants that put his sheets aflame.

    Real Life 
  • One of the ideas of the "Strategic Defense Initiative" program was to combine orbital relay mirrors and directed-energy weapons into a Kill Sat effect similar to Archimedes' legendary mirrors, but much bigger.
  • During the late 1770s, Antoine Lavoisiernote  used a large glass lens (filled with alcohol for better refraction) to melt iron and attempt to melt platinum at short range. With some bit of improvement, The Napoleonic Wars might have been fought with laser-like solar guns — if some revolutionaries hadn't executed Lavoisier under the charge of treason.
  • This is roughly how Concentrated Solar Power systems work: use mirrors to focus a lot of sunlight into a small area, use the resulting heat/high temperatures to generate electricity.
  • Hermann Oberth, working for Nazi Germany, proposed a wunderwaffen known as the Sonnengehwer ("Sun Gun") — a gigantic orbital reflector array made of metallic sodium that would be used to incinerate enemy cities. Obviously, it never got off the ground.
  • In 1952, the American physicist Ted Taylor exploited this to light a cigarette with a nuclear bomb: At a safe distance from a nuclear weapons test, he set up a lens with the cigarette at the focus.
  • In 2013, the curved exterior of 20 Fenchurch Street, a skyscraper in the City of London made headlines when it turned out that sunlight reflected off the curved side could concentrate with enough heat to warp metal and melt plastic on cars parked on the street, and also heated the pavement to the point that it could be used to fry eggs!
  • When Jane Yolen received the Skylark Award from the New England Science Fiction Association, she put it on display in her window. Unluckily, the glass lens in the award focused the light from the window and started a fire on her best wool coat. There were no injuries, but she was amused enough by the incident that it is now included in her official author bio. The punch line? Relating the story to Bruce Coville, she complained, "I'm going to have to put this where the sun doesn't shine!"
  • In the 19th century, labourers used lenses they called "pipe glasses" to light their tobacco. One was used to light the fire for the first test of Locomotion No. 1, the first steam locomotive to run on a public railway.


Video Example(s):


Crystal of the Sun God

Using the Emerald Duck, Doctor Claw's agent discovers the location of the ancient crystal weapon of the sun god. Upon being activated by the sunlight, the crystal demonstrates its destructive power, to Dr. Claw's delight.

How well does it match the trope?

4.2 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SolarPoweredMagnifyingGlass

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