I always find that I discover cool stuff when I am teaching about it – right now, for example, I'm lecturing to my introductory Stage Lighting classes about reflection, refraction, the Index of Refraction, reflectance, normal angles, and all of that kind of stuff. I love it, I'm a nerd to the Nth degree. I'm also lucky that my research karma is good!
Something I find quite sexy is capturing solar rays for the purpose of just destroying stuff in a non-military way. Yes, I'm one of those campers who loves campfires for the sheer awesome power of them. I came across a few videos of people harnessing the awesome power of our Sun into a small few centimeter-square area for the purposes of, well, burning stuff. I have two examples – one is an expensive solar capture device that focuses a few square meters of sun into an area of an inch, and the other is a homemade solar reflector made from a satellite dish. Even though the cheaper one is cheaply made (I mean comparatively, not offensively), it harnesses some amazing solar power!
Check out this first video – a lab environment, a huge mirror, and thousands of degrees of sunlight:
Here's the second video, a homemade SOLAR DEATH RAY!