Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....

Images by Reflection

Infants are always fas cinated by the antics of the Baby in the Mirror. Now if you want to know something about mirror images that most people don't understand, try this. First bring this page closer wand closer to your eyes, until you can no longer focus on it without straining. Then go in the bathroom and see how close you can get your face to the surface of the mirror before you can no longer easily focus on the image of your own eyes. You will find that the shortest comfortable eye-mirror distance is much less than the shortest comfortable eye-paper distance. This demonstrates that the image of your face in the mirror acts as if it had depth and existed in the space behind the mirror. If the image was like a flat picture in a book, then you wouldn't be able to focus on it from such a short distance.

In this chapter we will study the images formed by flat and curved mirrors on a qualitative, conceptual basis. Although this type of image is not as commonly encountered in everyday life as images formed by lenses, images formed by reflection are simpler to understand, so we discuss them first. In chapter 3 we will turn to a more mathematical treatment of images made by reflection. Surprisingly, the same equations can also be applied to lenses, which are the topic of chapter 4.

Last Update: 2009-06-21