The Death of the Death Ray?

For about two weeks last fall, the hottest story in Las Vegas—literally—was the emergence of the “death ray” at the Vdara pool at CityCenter. The spark on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story on the “solar convergence phenomenon” created by the sun’s rays reflecting off Vdara’s windows grew—not quite literally—into a firestorm fanned by national and international media. Calls came from as far away as Japan and Australia.

“At a certain point, I lost some of my good humor about the situation,” says Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for CityCenter’s owner, MGM Resorts International. “The reason this story [took off] the way it did is not because this phenomenon is dangerous or that intense; the reason is because of the moniker that was coined for the convergence.”

With temperature rising toward its summer sizzle, the MGM hopes it has sent the words “death ray” back to the cheap sci-fi films where they belong. After much deliberation, the company has deployed a bevy of umbrellas in the pool area. While not exactly a high-tech fix, MGM officials decided it was a sufficient answer to the problem, especially since during construction, Vdara’s glass had already been treated with a thin, high-tech film to reduce glare.

Umbrellas are common sense, and Vdara is encouraging even more old-school wisdom: Signs at the pool now inform sunbathers that all that glass can intensify the tanning experience—and that the best weapon in the war on the death ray might be a tube of SPF 70.

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