back to article Las Vegas death ray roasts hotel guests

Poolside guests at a newly-opened Las Vegas hotel have been enjoying the complex's quick-tan facility - a solar "death ray" with the power to burn flesh and melt plastic. Artist's rendering of the concave Vdara hotel The architects responsible for the MGM Mirage Vdara underestimated the converging power of the building's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The lady's horse goes trip trip trip


    But the compensation lawyer's horse goes gallopy gallopy gallopy - Ker-ching!

  2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Must... stop... laughing

    Did nobody think that it might be a better idea to make the convex side of the building North-facing? Did they not think that building a massive curved mirror IN THE DESERT might focus the sunlight? Or maybe, just maybe, this was the world's best practical joke on the part of the architect...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Close, but no turd shaped assemblage of dried tobacco leaves.

      "Did nobody think that it might be a better idea to make the convex side of the building North-facing?"

      ITYM South or concave (but not both).

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Yes, my bad

        I did, of course mean concave. But then my physics A-level was a long time ago...

    2. Quxy

      Practical joke, indeed!

      "Ah, I see. I hadn't correctly divined your attitude towards your tenants..."

    3. DZ-Jay

      Ha! ha!

      Extra points go to the architect for aiming the death ray onto the pool area! Ha!


  3. Chris 244

    The guest was clear prone to using...


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hi-tech solutions

    Reflective (tin foil) hats anyone? Or umbrellas if it comes to that.

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    Finally, a directed energy weapon that actually and demonstrably works!

    I always knew the Americans will eventually do it if they try hard enough.

    1. Dr Insanity

      I knew I would be the only one to think it

      Now we only need to work out how to mount an MGM Mirage Hotel atop a plane and aim it at some missiles

      1. DZ-Jay

        Atop a plane?

        How about a shark?


      2. Aremmes

        Giant robot

        If you've ever watched " Super Dimension Fortress Macross," you'd already know the answer: make the building into a giant flying robot. That'd take care of the aiming bit.

  6. mulder

    solar panels as cover?

    they should build a a cover suporting solar panels that would break even rather quickly .

  7. Milen A. Radev

    "...astronomical challenge."

    Make stupid plans, blame the Sun.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    what an awesome design

    Dr Evil's new lair :)

    anon cos he will be after me

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Dr. Evil

      Dr. Evil: "Now Mr. Powers, if you will please have a seat by the pool and remain there for approximately ninety minutes, you will find yourself vaporized. I bid you.. adieu!"

      (Maniacal laughter).

      Scotty: (Rolls eyes).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the plus side.....

    You can make excellent spaghetti in the pool.

    Lovely for a poolside barbecue . . . ummm

  10. Cameron Colley

    Can't they model it?

    Surely someone can model the effect, then they could mark out areas on the ground where it will occur over different times of the day and year? Not a fix, I know, but at least then umbrellas could be moved ahead of time and people could be adequately warned.

    1. Adam Salisbury

      Yes but...

      Surely they'd have modelled that *before* building the damned thing!

    2. LAW-MAN

      I hope the umbrellas are flame proof

      If they're not careful every day they'll have a bunch of umbrellas turn to ash and a visit from the local fire dept.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      the annular pattern is obvious.

  11. Christoph

    Hi-tech solutions

    "the Vdara is mulling hi-tech solutions"

    Have they considered "Warning the guests"?

  12. npupp 1

    but... looks so pretty!

    "This is quite literally an astronomical challenge. We are dealing with a moving target." Technically true, but it's not like the path of the sun across the sky is an unknown, for any season. define a parabolic walled garden area, do something useful on it, solar cells or water heating, claim to be environmentally friendly, feature not flaw, etc.

    Flames because...well, stay in the deathray too long and burst into flames :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but...

      >"...We are dealing with a moving target." Technically true

      Depends on how technical you care to get. Relatively it is false. It as long been accepted, even by the church, albeit reluctantly, that the earth moves around the sun hence the sun is a stationary target. In addition the trajectory of the focus point on any given day is due more to the rotation of the earth than any perceived movement of the sun.

  13. Tom_


    As a lad, my dad used to love telling me of his calculation that if everyone in a football stadium produced a small mirror and focussed the sunlight onto the referee, they could vapourise him.

    Maybe it's a slight exaggeration, but I bet you could really piss him off.

    1. ian 22


      Not in England. Not enough sun.

  14. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


    I'm still wiping the tears out of my eyes. This must be the funniest cock-up ever, and the beauty of it is that there is little that can be done about it other than marking an area unusable. It's an epic, real live, god-knows-how-many-floors-high monument of a cock-up.

    Which dipswitch of an architect hasn't learned about concave and convex?

    Hahaha, I would not believed that from a James Bond plot, let alone in real life. LOL...

    Thanks for making my day..

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Little that can be done

      There's something that can be done - mount the building on a big pivot and turn it into a useable, aimable deathray! It's fortunate that MGM owns the majority of the Vegas strip and as such doesn't have many buildings that it could contemplate blowing up..

      re: your James Bond comment - you missed Die Another Day then, specifically the Icarus project? Understandable as you were probably p1ssing yourself laughing at the ridiculous invisible car :)

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        icarus what?

        you mean the plot they ripped off from diamons are forever? complete with identical sateellite design? there's a reason they dumped that director and rebooted the series after that abortion of a film.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Rob


      You'll not find many hotels in Vegas where you can open the windows, as this is a fairly recent build I'd guess that none of the windows open.

    2. Chris 244

      Open the window at a casino? Are you crazy?

      So the guy that just lost his life savings can jump out? No way.

      He might kill a paying customer on the patio below.

  16. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Oh, really?

    "Absher explained that there's no easy fix for the problem, "

    There are no problems which cannot be solved by judicious use of high explosives.

    1. Annihilator Silver badge


      "Defusing a bomb" being the obvious exception to that rule

      1. ArmanX

        Actually, not true

        Many bombs are "defused" by setting off an explosive device on a large water tank beside them - a "Projected water disruptor". A shaped charge blasts water into (and through) the supposed bomb, and tada! No more bomb.

    2. Adrian Challinor

      You owe me a new keyboard

      Or at least a keyboard cleaning kit - classic!

  17. Swoop
    Paris Hilton


    ...because she's got hot curves too!

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Where Archimedes failed

    A stupid architect succeeded.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exeter had the same phenomena!

    A building in Exeter (Renslade House?) exhibited the same phenomena ....Crossing the Northern bridge across the river Exe one would receive a blast of radiation from the concave office block at certain times........despite best efforts it never melted a plastic bag but it certainly provided a welcome blast of heat on a chilly day......

    1. leona 2
      Thumb Up

      I never knew that.

      and I live in Exeter too! But as others have said, there isn't enough Sun in the UK to do any damage :)

  20. Alan Edwards

    Possible fixes?

    a) Alter the angle of the individual window panels so that they point up, or outwards. Or, you could get really clever and make them steerable, see b)

    b) Put a solar collector above the affected area, either photo-voltaic or simple water heater. If you go with steerable window panels in a), it needn't be enormous. Not cheap, but it'll pay for itself eventually and you'd probably get a grant off the government.

    c) Put a non-reflective coating on the affected windows. Cheap-ish, but the heat has to go somewhere so it'll pummel the air con, and the rooms will be darker.

    Talk to the Spaniards, they just built a power station that does this deliberately. I think there's a couple in the US, too.

    1. greatfog

      France FTW

      "The term "solar furnace" has also evolved to refer to solar concentrator heating systems using parabolic mirrors or heliostats where 538 °C (1,000 °F) is now commonly achieved. The largest solar furnace in the world is at Odeillo in the Pyrenees-Orientales in France, opened in 1970."


      Flames... "'cause it's hot." [BOC]

    2. Nuke

      Re Alan Edwards: Just correcting your point (b)

      b) Put an **unpainted aluminium** canopy above the affected area .... **cheap**

  21. paulc

    Cue oblig Thunderbirds quote...

    in old man voice:

    "It will be a great disaster"...

    google the episode where the solar mirror to beam the sun's rays into a dark alpine valley falls over when struck by lightning and the next day starts a fire when the misdirected reflections hit a thatched roof...

  22. Mark 133


    I'd lay good odds that this place will show up in the next series of CSI.

  23. Ian Rogers
    Thumb Up

    Turn a problem...

    ...into a feature. World's largest sundial anyone? Place tubs of water in the appropriate place, when they start to boil it's time to head to the bar...

  24. Liam Johnson


    That building is huge! Who the hell thought that blocking 70% of the reflected solar energy was in any way going to reduce it to a reasonable level?

    Once they realised they had built a massive solar furnace, why didn't they decide to use it instead?

  25. Ian Michael Gumby

    Hmmm here's an idea!

    Instead of putting up umbrellas or plants, why not make a grid of solar cells that can offer some shade and convert that sun energy in to electricity.

    The upside is that marketing could spin this as a way to make the building greener and reduce their operating costs. Plus they probably could get a tax credit too.

    Simple solution that the hotel could afford and get some good publicity out of it.

    1. Lewis Mettler 1

      right on

      If you are looking for a cost effective solution you have to install solar panels over the affected area. At least most of it. There could be days when the extra heat might be welcomed. And certainly anyone is smart enough to move to the shade when they are beginning to boil off their sweat.

  26. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Large plants?

    Of the solar thermal variety I suspect.

  27. Anomalous Cowturd

    Non-reflective glass?

    You know, like they used to put on laptops, before they turned them into mirrors.....

    The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

  28. Gil Grissum

    Solar collector

    Someone already said this, but you'd think that a big high end hotel who knows that have a problem that's a potential liability nightmare, would come up with a way to harness that solar energy with a solar collector of some sort. Epic fail on the part of the architect.

  29. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Also a problem with...

    ...the incredible Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. It's a Gehry building made up of waves and ripples finished in stainless steel. Most of the building was frosted, but some panels were left like mirrors and they were roasting the occupants of nearby buildings. The panels were later frosted to reduce the reflection.

    It's not quite worth a trip to LA (frankly, little is); but if you're there, it's well worth a look.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also a problem with...

      It did occur to me that Gehry might also be the architect of this one as well.

      "It's not quite worth a trip to LA (frankly, little is); but if you're there, it's well worth a look."

      Just don't look directly at it!

    2. Neoc

      Thank you.

      I was trying to remember the name of the building (saw it in an "engineering f*k-ups" TV show.

      1. Not That Andrew

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        What is it with Frank Gehry? He designs lovely looking houses (if you like that sort of architecture), but put him anywhere near a multi-story building and he turns it into a colossal f*ckup.

  30. Alan Dougherty

    re:Open the windows

    Yes, that actually is a bit too simple...

    Vegas hotel windows do not open.. due to the penchant of, suddenly lighter in the pocket guests, attempting to fly.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Pointing east

    Have a look,-115.171652&sspn=0.015773,0.033023&ie=UTF8&hq=MGM+Mirage+Vdara&hnear=&ll=36.106862,-115.176045&spn=0.003944,0.008256&t=h&z=18

  32. Ross 7

    Incentivize the fix

    Surely it isn't hard to incentivize the hotel owners to fix the issue? Just build a large parabolic reflector and point it back at the hotel. The entire hotel surface area focussed down to a few mm^2 should get their attention. If you can get line of sight on a disco mirror ball so much the better!

    Genius story tho. The only improvement would be to find that the anti reflective coating degrades in sunlight...

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    '... which it attributes to a "solar convergence phenomenon".'

    Meanwhile the rest of the world decided to carry on using the word "lens"*......

    *OK, "sodding great big lens" then.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Can't resist, sorry


  34. Andus McCoatover

    Large plants??

    ""maybe some large plants"" Heat-resistant, like, erm...nope, can't find anything that'll stand up to that.

    <joke> Of C4? Think there's some blokes in white robes holidaying in Cuba who'd love to help out. </joke>

    Seriously, I can't imagine how they're gonna fix it. Unless, tilting the windows (there must be thousands) upwards a few degrees*, or randomly staggering the angle of each one by a bit. Nightmare. Cheaper, I'd have thought to relocate the pool, and return the 'target area' to the desert from whence it came.

    *(Architect - if you do this, checkout the ISS flightpath first).

  35. Chris 244
    Thumb Down

    Not a lens.

    By definition, a lens transmits light.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      um... yes, (mostly) by definition, a lens

      a lens does not "transmit" light. A lens is a device used to FOCUS light.

      "Focusing mirror" would be considerably more accurate but "lens" could serve.

  36. Tigra 07


    Could it be harnessed as a weapon to be used against other hotels nearby?

  37. Colin Wilson

    so the trouble spots are known ?

    Simple answer, create a shaded area directly in its path, be it a gift shop, bar, seating area etc., and by putting solar cells on the roof you can power air-con or fans to keep visitors cool, power tills, or use it to heat the pool...

    Penguin - because it's an open source idea and they like to keep their cool :-p

  38. MeRp

    Having lived in Las Vegas previously...

    I can attest that this particular building is not required if you'd like to feel like you are being cooked; simply remaining outside an air conditioned area for longer than about 15 minutes during a summer day will do. After about that much time the heat from above (the sun) and below (the asphalt) becomes overwhelming.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Framework of pipes holding pool water (and possibly hotel heating if the effect's that powerful). Grow grapes or figs or something on underside of said pipes to make it look pretty and provide shade.

  40. VinceH

    Letters, Digits.

    Meanwhile, ants and other insects the world over, who have lost countless friends and relatives because of humans playing with sunlight and magnifying glasses, gave the architects a standing ovation, with cries of "That'll teach you!"

  41. Timo

    Change something

    Probably easier to move the pool than it would be to move the building (or the sun.)

    Probably not a good idea then to put the parking lot where the pool used to be. They'll probably just put up more casino space there and deal with the roof melting.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty standard Vegas stupidity

    have a look at Luxor: nobody thought in advance that open walkways running around the inside of a pyramid from the third floor all the way to the top would provide insolvent gamblers an easy way to cut their losses, resulting in diners at the ground floor buffet often finding their meals interrupted. The fix? Move the buffet into the basement. The walkways are still wide open, and, frankly, terrifying.

    Anyway, the solution to the current problem is obvious: sue the crap out of everyone involved, find that the hotel's reputation is irrevocably tarnished and then shut and knock it down.

  43. Phil the Geek

    Water wall

    Run a big pipe along the top of the hotel and flow water down the front of the building. It'll look absolutely fabulous, a major attraction, and the ripples and turbulence will break up the reflection.

    Please send my fee to...

  44. Anonymous Coward

    they knew about..

    ... they didn't warn the customer...

    ... the customer got hurt...

    ... and the customer did NOT sue them???

    I honestly thought that Las Vegas is i the US.

  45. John Sturdy

    A low-cost use for it

    Paint some markings on the area that it targets (using fade-proof paint of course) and you've got a novel form of sundial.

  46. candtalan

    Create a photovoltaic sculpture feature

    which tracks the moving beam, possibly partly powered by the beam itself. Could be a form of a tracked or suspended item. If (another) architect were to be used who had an artistic bent it could look quite good. It could generate power. Use some power also for a nice water feature near the pool......

  47. Argus Tuft

    Call in Mr Burns

    Wasn't there an episode of The Simpsons where Monty Burns blocked out the sun with a giant umbrella?

    Just get one of those hanging from hovering airships during daylight hours.

  48. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    You missed one important fact...

    Pintas, the man who was roasted, is a Chicago lawyer who owns a condo at the Vdara. Fill in the blanks.

  49. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Semi-crispy dead birds

    If this building is melting bags with a 70% reduction in solar power, I can't imagine how bad it would have been stock!

    @Lewis Mettler 1, solar panels won't work, unfortunately. This is actually a problem being worked on -- if you concentrate LARGE amounts of solar power onto a solar panel, it melts, just like the plastic bags etc. did for them. The solar collector systems being developed right now actually end up using steam or the like.

    @Mike Richards, you beat me to it -- I remember reading about that, the neighbors across the street were wondering why they all of a sudden had to run the A/C full tilt and it was still like 100+ degrees in their apartments. My understanding is even AFTER frosting the building they still have to make payments to the apartment owners to make up for greatly increased cooling bills.

    There was also that sculpture somewhere in Britain that had to be reworked because semi-crispy dead birds were dropping out of the sky.

  50. Mostor Astrakan


    They should have run this past their customer focus group?

  51. Anonymous John

    You expect me to get sun-tanned?

    No Mr Bond. I expect you to die.

  52. Peter H. Coffin

    The even more obvious solution

    and entirely keeping within the Las Vegas model for solving problems is to not only mark the pavement, but then to also *charge people* to go into the focal space: "ULTRA TANNING AREA $10 for 10 minutes (Tan at your own risk)". The revenues will make up for the cost of moving the cordoned-off areas around.

  53. Lockwood

    MGM's grand plan.

    MGM distributed Die Another Day.

    This is an MGM hotel.

    It's obvious where the idea came from.

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