How do mirrors work?


Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror from the corner of your eye and thought you had a twin in the room?! Mirrors are pretty cool -- they allow us to see reflections, which are images that get pointed back at you by a smooth, shiny surface!

The reason a mirror points an image back at you is because of the way a mirror's smooth, flat surface reflects light. All objects give off, reflect, or absorb different amounts of light. The way that a surface either reflects or absorbs light depends on some of the qualities of the surface, such as its smoothness and its flatness.

A piece of paper, for example, is smooth and flat. However, if you looked at a piece of paper under a microscope, you'd see that it actually contains lots of bumps and grooves! Because its surface is not completely smooth, a piece of paper absorbs light instead of reflecting it. Glass windowpanes, mirrors, and pieces of plastic, however, are much smoother and flatter surfaces than things like paper or wood. That's why most of the time, instead of absorbing the light, those objects reflect light and show you an image! -- Cool!

by Mya Kagan (Whyzz writer)


Reflect on your reflection! Take a tour of your house and inspect which objects you find that give off your reflection, and which objects just absorb light! Does your lunch plate show your reflection? What about your crayons? And the paper you draw on? Does a plastic cup shine your image back at you, or the metal doorknob?? If you're able to get two small hand mirrors, try pointing them at each other! Putting their shiny sides facing each other might even let you reflect between them so that when you look at one of them, you see an endless wall of mirrors going back and back forever and ever!


Reflection. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary