The skyscraper that melted a car

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

building burns
I bet Walkie Talkie’s designers didn’t know the building was going to become a death ray!

Have you ever been in a car that was left in the sun all day? Just about every surface you touch is scorching hot, especially the seatbelts. Well, when Martin Lindsay left his luxury car parked outside in London last week, a building melted it!

He was only gone for an hour, but apparently, that was long enough.The building responsible is London’s “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper, which is 37 stories tall and is made of glass and steel. “If you’re a car parked on the street, there are situations where you get both the direct sunlight you would always get [from the sky], plus the reflected light off the building,” said John Frederick, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Chicago. “That must have been enough to put the temperature in that car over the top.”

Well, there are buildings that reflect sunlight everywhere! What makes the curvy frame of Walkie Talkie so special? “Fundamentally, it’s reflection,” said Chris Shepherd of the Institute of Physics. “If a building creates enough of a curve with a series of flat windows, which act like mirrors, the reflections all converge at one point, focusing and concentrating the light.” Glass is capable of reflecting 100% of light directed at it, and when Walkie Talkie was bathed in sunlight, it reflected the light onto the car like a gigantic magnifying glass!

The buildings’ developers claim the melting capabilities will only last for 2-3 week while the sun is high in the sky. Afterwards, the cars on the street will be safe! As a precaution, however, they have blocked parking around Walkie Talkie!

Images courtesy of Simon & His Camera on Flickr.