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  • Writer's pictureK.L.

The Science Behind: Mirrors

Whether it’s trapping a vampire, brushing your teeth, or simply having a bad hair day, mirrors are always to the rescue! But how? How do mirrors have their reflective face and how do they manage to give a perfect reflection of the person or thing staring into it?

Well, it's not magic, it's science!

First off, let's start with what we know about mirrors. They have a very smooth surface. It's the mirror's surface that is the main contributor to its reflective behavior. Photons coming from an object or person hit the surface of a mirror. Now, what are photons? Photons are the main thing that makes up light.

After the photons hit the mirror, they bounce back in the exact (and I mean exact!) same way. They do this so accurately that our eyes depict this as a reflection. Sure, it's backward, but it's a reflection! Think about it like cars on the highway. The car may face north when heading to its destination, but, when it returns from its destination, it's facing south. It's just like photons to a mirror.

However, not every single smooth surface you come across can pose as a mirror. For instance, I'm pretty sure a desk can't help you brush your teeth the way a mirror can. Why is this so? Well, there is a difference in the surface. Mirrors are made of certain things like aluminum and metal with reflective properties. Desks, on the other hand, well, they are usually made of wood.

What happens when photons hit the desk? I'm sorry to say that it doesn't end up all rainbows and puppies for the photons. When the photons hit the desk, instead of reflecting, the photons get absorbed.

So next time someone compliments your hair or makeup, thank a mirror! Or better yet, a photon!

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