Anamorphic mirror

Twist reality and straighten it back!

Difficulty:
Danger:
Duration:
30 minutes
Anamorphic mirror

Safety

  • Carefully review the general safety advice in the instruction book before starting the experiment.
  • Disassemble the setup after the experiment.

Step-by-step instructions

To conduct this experiment with the MEL Science app, scan the MEL code on the right.

Use the cylindrical mirror from the set to convert the obviously distorted images or videos in the app back to normal.

Simply click the “Convert photo” button, place the cylindrical mirror on the “x” mark on the screen of your phone or tablet, and observe the result!

Now try it with a video!

For even more fun, you can upload your own pictures or videos, convert them in the app, and play with the cylindrical mirror! You can even print out your converted images. Look at them in your cylindrical mirror—you should see a normal, proportional image.

From ancient times to the present day, anamorphic mirror paintings have inspired the imaginations of artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Salvador Dali. Their secret? The undistorted image can only be seen on a curved reflective surface!

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Disposal

  • Dispose of solid waste together with household garbage.

Scientific description

Reflective surfaces don’t have to be flat—as a matter of fact, you likely encounter curved reflective surfaces quite often! Take, for example, metal banisters, spoons, holiday ornaments, and car mirrors. The geometry of their form distorts their reflected images in fascinating ways. Let’s explore how cylindrical mirrors work!

If a reflective surface is flat, light will hit the surface and be reflected from the surface at equal angles. However, since the surface of the cylindrical mirror is not flat, the rays are reflected at different angles, spreading like a hand fan depending on which part of the cylinder they fall on. The closer to the edge light rays fall on a convex mirror, the larger the angle of reflection. This creates a distorted image smaller than its actual size. Since a mirror like this shows images to be smaller than they are, it can display a wider range of its surroundings. Convex mirrors are used as safety mirrors for exactly this reason! Read more about this phenomenon here.

That’s interesting!

Ever found yourself wishing you’d remembered to glance in the mirror before leaving home? Don't worry—you can use shop windows (or any window, really) as a mirror, too! The one-way mirror effect will help you! During the day, the light coming from inside a room is usually dimmer than the light from the sun outside, and all your eyes can distinguish is the reflection of the outside world. But that all changes at night—almost all the perceptible light is coming from the room, allowing someone in the darker outside environment to see what’s inside. So use the window as a mirror during the day and close the curtains at night to stay hidden from prying eyes!

Mirrors don’t just reflect light—they also let it pass through them! Different mirrors transmit different amounts of light. An illuminated object behind a mirror can either be seen clearly or only as a silhouette.