We got used to mirrors as the most common element of the interior, but at the same time, we do not think about how amazing they are and how widely they are used. In this article, we have collected for you the most interesting facts about mirrors.
The history of the mirror
Prototypes of mirrors
Primitive people who lived tens of thousands of years ago did not know any technology that would allow them to create a smooth and well-reflecting surface, so even primitive mirrors were not available to them.
However, they had semblances of mirrors, namely small reservoirs or shallow vessels with black bottoms and walls. Water was poured into them, in which one could see a relatively good reflection.
In addition to this, people, of course, looked at their own reflection in the mirror-like surface of reservoirs, near which our primitive ancestors established their settlements.
Creation of the first mirrors
The first mirrors in the form of special objects with a reflecting surface appeared during the Bronze Age (for Europe this period is on average from 2500 to 500 BC, but dates vary depending on the region).
Such mirrors were small and made of polished pewter, platinum or gold plates. As you understand, the quality of reflection in them was poor.
The beginnings of the use of glass
In the first half of 13-th century Europeans learned to blow vessels out of glass, and already in 1279, with the development of glassmaking, there appeared glass mirrors, but they were inferior to modern samples in quality of reflection.
The reasons for this are clear from the technology of production of such mirrors. In the beginning, a glass ball was blown and the molten metal was poured into it. It was distributed over the surface of the ball and after the glass and metal solidified, the product was broken into many shards.
Each shard had a small size and a curved surface that distorted the reflection, but even so it was better than the polished metal plates.
The production of mirrors appeared in different parts of Europe, but when the Venetian brothers Danzalo del Gallo bought a patent from the Flemish in 1507, Venice became the center of mirror production for two centuries, which was famous for its best quality.
In Venice in the 16th century the first flat mirrors were created thanks to which the reflection became distortion-free, and the cost of products of Venetian craftsmen grew even more.
Because of the measures taken by Venice authorities the secret of creating mirrors of the highest quality never left the shores of the Venetian Murano island. The death penalty awaited the craftsmen for revealing the secret, and those who escaped and could uncover the secret were pursued by a military unit.
Modern technology of mirror production
In 1835 a revolution in the manufacture of mirrors was the use of silver, a thin layer of which was applied to flat glass. Mirrors from this period became familiar to us, and similar technology is still used today.
Mirrors in Science
Everyone at least once in their lives has heard of a wormhole or wormhole – a feature of space-time. It represents a hypothetical tunnel in space. But there is a problem of its instability.
The solution to this problem can be found in mirrors! When two uncharged mirrors are placed in vacuum in parallel a few micrometers from each other, the Casimir effect will appear. It consists in mutual attraction of these bodies under the action of the quantum field.
This generates a negative region of space-time between the mirrors, as a result, a stable mole hole may appear, which in theory will allow moving in space-time.
Mirrors in Earth’s orbit
You have probably heard at least once in your life about the Hubble Space Telescope, which orbits our planet. It uses concave mirrors, which focus a beam of light parallel to their axis to produce an image.
Mirrors on the Moon
Mirrors are present not only on Earth and on its orbit but also on the Moon! They are needed for laser location – to determine the distance between our planet and its satellite.
On July 21, 1969, the astronauts of the U.S. Apollo 11 program installed special mirrors on the Moon. They became more numerous with subsequent missions, and are still used for laser location.
What happens is this: a laser is released from an observatory on Earth, aimed at one of the mirrors on the Moon. The laser bounces back to Earth, and by calculating the exact time between the release and return of the beam, the distance between the celestial bodies can be calculated.
The most expensive mirror
At the end of 16th century Queen Maria de Medici of France (1575 – 1642) was furnishing her cabinet, and an order for 119 mirrors was made to decorate it. The task was entrusted to Venetian craftsmen.
To thank the queen for the large order, craftsmen from Venice created a special mirror as a gift. It was decorated with agates, smaragdas and onyxes, and the frame was inlaid with precious stones of different colors.
Today this mirror is kept in the Louvre (Paris, France). Its value is estimated at more than 10 million euros, making it the most expensive mirror in the world.
The biggest mirror
The largest mirror in the world is non-man-made and is located in Bolivia (South America). During the rainy season the Uyuni salt marsh, which in the dry season is a snow-white plain covered with salt, becomes a huge mirror canvas.
The thin layer of water that makes it easy to walk on the salt marsh reflects the sky so well that it seems as if one is floating in the sky! In good weather, the horizon line dissolves between the sky and the ground, creating a very unusual effect. This is why the salt marsh is one of the most popular tourist spots in Bolivia, but unfortunately, the mirror-like plain effect does not last very long.
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Another interesting facts about mirrors: Phantom limbs
Through experiments with mirrors on patients who have lost limbs, scientists have learned a lot about how our brains work.
Researchers placed a mirror vertically in front of patients so that a missing limb (such as an arm) would be reflected in the mirror canvas, and the patient would appear to see both arms.
Patients reported feeling their phantom arm moving, even though the limb was lost a long time ago. Moreover, they even reported feeling touch.
However, with several repetitions of the procedure, the effect disappeared. Scientists believe it is related to brain plasticity, and that there is a close connection between vision and touch in our brains.
An outfit of mirrors
Last interesting facts about mirrors: Once Queen Anne of France appeared at a ball wearing a dress studded with many small mirrors. The queen was the centerpiece of the event, for her attire emanated a truly majestic radiance that left all the guests in awe!