Opti-fun – Ask Marilyn

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

I just read this in the “Ask Marilyn” section of Parade Magazine today:

“I need glasses to see far away. I was surprised to discover that I still need them to see distant objects in a mirror, which is close. Can you explain?”

I am sure many of you optical experts know why but I didn’t and thought it was a fun opti-fact that many optical consumers would enjoy knowing and it made me think that it would be interesting to demonstrate in an optical waiting room. We will have to ask our friends at Fashion Optical Displays if they have any ideas on making this part of a display. Here is Marilyn’s answer in brief:

“You’re not looking at the mirror as an object. Instead, you’re viewing the light from the distant objects themselves,bounced to your eyes by the reflective surface of the mirror. You’ll easily see a drop of water on the mirror because the droplet is only two feet away. the light isn’t being reflected at all. This phenomenon is why a mirror makes a room seem larger. And when the mirror faces a landscape, the impression is even greater. Replace a mirror with a photo of the same landscape and the effect will disappear .”

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  1. Optics are indeed interesting! Incidentally, mirrors can “open up” tight spaces, help spread daylight into darker corners and help a dispensary to look more full. Accessory mirrors that fit into frame display panels are a good way to keep frame displays looking full while waiting for more inventory to arrive.

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