The first mirrors were likely pools of still water or clay containers of liquid. The people of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) were the first to manufacture mirrors, about 8000 years ago, using ground and polished obsidian. Copper mirrors were created in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Egypt in 4000 B.C. In China, mirrors were made from metal alloys (tin and copper) polished to create a reflective surface. The silvered glass mirrors found today were first created in Germany 200 years ago when a German chemist developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of glass. However they were invented, mirrors have become an essential part of modern culture and are used in many ways.
There are three basic types of mirrors, each reflecting light and images in different ways.
- Plane Mirrors are flat and reflect images in their normal proportions, reversed from left to right. This commonly found type of mirror is used in bedrooms, bathrooms, dressing rooms and for general decor. They are employed in homes and businesses to:
- Assist with personal hygiene: Most everyone uses a mirror to check that their hair, teeth and clothes are in proper order.
- Enhance natural light: Placing a mirror directly across from a window reflects incoming light and naturally makes the room feel brighter.
- Create the feeling of space: A floor-to-ceiling mirror or large wall mirrors placed around the room give the illusion of a larger space.
- Accentuate features: Hang a mirror above the mantle, a sofa or another feature you want to highlight, naturally drawing the eye to that spot.
- Add flair: A backsplash of mirrored tiles in the kitchen or bathroom adds sparkle and reflects colours in the room. A mirror in the foyer serves as a decorative accent for your walls while small mirrors with different frames and shapes can be grouped together for great impact.
- Concave Mirrors, also known as converging mirrors, curve inward like a bowl. They reflect light to a single focal point creating images that appear upside down from a distance but flip when viewed closely. They are used:
- by dentists to magnify the size of teeth
- in car headlights
- in shaving and makeup mirrors
- in reflecting telescopes
- in microscopes
- in flashlights
- in medical tools
- in solar furnaces
- Convex Mirrors, also known as diverging mirrors, bulge outward distorting the reflected image and making it smaller. They’re employed in:
- vehicles as rear-view mirrors
- ATMs, for security purposes
- street light reflectors
- parking lots to assist with parking
- building hallways and shops for security purposes
- hospitals, offices and restaurants to look around the corner and avoid running into others
Mirrors have been around for many years. They’re not just for seeing your reflection but are utilized in many ways. They’re an affordable way to create depth and enhance the beauty of any home and/or business. They’re used for security and are found in cars, telescopes, microscopes and medical tools.
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