Contributed by: Rachel M.

Date of creation: 9/30/11

Mirrors may seem just like basic everyday objects that are something with no potential, but if you go a little deeper into finding how mirrors work it can be quite interesting. The reason that we can see things in mirrors is because of photons. Photons are particles in light so when hits a mirror it reflects the photons and some reach and enter into our eyes, that causes us to see a reflection. The light hits the mirror but when it does back bounce to hit us it actually only hits in one place. When it only hits in one place it can still get your whole body image. So to make a quicker idea of it, light is the main reason for a reflection. When the light hits a smooth surface it bounces back at the same angle at which it was hit, when photons hit a rough surface they bounce back at a haphazard manner. Not all smooth surfaces reflect, photons back even though they should, this is because some smooth surfaces absorb the light and they can’t bounce back. Mirrors are also actually reversed images.

In ancient times mirrors were made from brass, gold, and silver. In the 1600s most mirrors were made from plate glass. The front surface of the glass is extremely polished. The real surface has metallic reflecting film applied to it applied to it, and mirrors can be either flat or curved.

Curved mirrors
A curved mirror may have a convex or concave surface to get light beams or form distorted images. It is bent outward. The concave mirror makes images bigger than they appear. Since the mirror is reflected outward the light is collected and bounced

back at different depths to make it have a different effect. One of the most extreme uses of concave mirrors is a vehicle headlight. By placing the source of the light in the

center of the mirror it provides a parallel beam of light that provides plenty of visibility. It pretty much works like a regular mirror, it just has a curved out section and the light reflects on different depths to reflect at many different angles.

In this picture the incidental ray is hitting the smooth surface causing the reflected ray

In this picture the light is hitting the smooth surface and the photons in the light are reflecting the image into the persons eye causing them to see the image

Convex/concave- Having a surface that is curved or rounded outward.
Photons- Particles in light
Haphazard- mere chance; accident


"Mirror." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.
mirror. ( 2011). In Compton's by Britannica. Retrieved fromædia Britannica Online School Edition, s.v. "mirror," accessed September 20, 2011, mirror 2011. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Retrieved 20 September 2011, from

Cool Quiz. How do mirrors work. Cool Quiz. Demand Media Inc, 2010. Web. 9/26/11.

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