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Obama, MythBusters to Test 'Archimedes Death Ray' in Push to Promote Science

MythBusters

Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, seen here, have taken up President Obama's challenge to retest the Archimedes' solar ray theory.

President Obama is either trying to reach a new audience or he's looking to build the Pentagon's next project on the cheap. 

The president is set to make a guest appearance next month on the Discovery Channel's "MythBusters," the show where a team of explosion-prone pyrophiles test urban legends. The Obama episode will focus on the so-called "Archimedes death ray." 

But the results may already be in.

"I can tell you that I taped an episode of their show," Obama told science students at the White House on Monday as he welcomed lead busters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to the West Wing. "I didn't get to blow anything up. I was a little frustrated by that."

The death ray is the weapon legend has it was used by Greek mathematician Archimedes to destroy enemy ships. It would have used a system of mirrors to reflect and focus the sun's rays onto whatever is targeted for incineration. 

However, the busters have busted the heat ray myth twice already in prior episodes. The latest attempt was aired in January 2006, when the hosts teamed up with MIT students -- they succeeded in charring the test boat and creating a small fire, but the myth was nevertheless debunked. 

Discovery spokeswoman Katherine Nelson said the experiment was included on a list of options for the president "because fans are constantly asking the MythBusters to re-test the Archimedes Solar Ray." She said the White House picked the ray test "because it provided the greatest opportunity to get students involved in (science, technology, engineering and math) in the most real way possible." 

The Discovery appearance was announced Monday before the president hosted the White House Science Fair. The episode is scheduled to air Dec. 8 as part of the president's effort to "inspire young people to excel in math and science." 

Or blow up ships. Whatever. 

Discovery said in a statement that the president will "challenge" Savage and Hyneman to revisit the "controversial" myth. And there's a lot on the line, apparently. 

"Did Greek scientist and polymath Archimedes set fire to an invading Roman fleet using only mirrors and the reflected rays of the sun? Will Adam and Jamie be able to pull this off, or will they have to report back to the president that they failed?" the statement reads.