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Mirrors

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Welcome to the Fun House
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Welcome to the Fun House    
Credit: Tangopaso
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Distorting_mirror_in_the_parc_Saint-Paul.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A fun house mirror creates funny, distorted reflections. That’s because the surface of the mirror is curved. Actually, curved mirrors also have many practical uses.

The Back Story

  • Most curved mirrors have either a concave or a convex surface. Each type of mirror forms a different type of image.
  • Credit: Sarah Laval
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smercury98/3636504447/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    You can find curved mirrors in parking lots and narrow hallways that allow you to see around a corner [Figure2]

     

  • A fun house mirror usually has a combination of concave and convex surfaces. That’s how it forms such silly-looking images.
  • Explore fun house mirrors with the interactive Fun House Mirrors activity at the following link: http://www.learner.org/teacherslab/science/light/lawslight/funhouse/index.html. Be sure to check out the background information and try to construct fun house mirrors to match the images. 

Can You Apply It?

Learn more about curved mirrors at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. State the law of reflection. Explain what the law means. Does the law apply to curved as well as flat mirrors?
  2. Compare and contrast the surfaces of concave and convex mirrors.
  3. If you stand in front of a convex mirror and look at your reflection, how does your reflection appear?
  4. If you stand close to a concave mirror so your reflection is upright, how does your reflection appear?
  5. Why is a convex mirror also called a diverging mirror?
  6. Besides fun house mirrors, what are some other uses of convex mirrors? Why are convex mirrors good for these uses?
  7. Reflecting telescopes use mirrors to focus light. Which type of mirror—concave or convex—is used in reflecting telescopes? Why?
  8. What are some other uses of concave mirrors? Why are concave mirrors good for these uses?
  9. Assume you want to design a fun house mirror that makes your head look bigger than it really is but makes your body and legs look smaller than they really are. Describe the surface of the mirror you would design.

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Tangopaso; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Distorting_mirror_in_the_parc_Saint-Paul.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Sarah Laval; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smercury98/3636504447/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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