QUESTION: Why do some mirrors make me look upside down?
ANSWER: You can see your image by looking at yourself in a spoon. The spoon acts like a mirror, which is a surface that reflects (bounces back from a surface) light. The inside of the spoon’s bowl is concave, meaning it curves inward. When you look into a concave mirror, your image will be upside down. The diagram shows how light is reflected from a concave mirror.
The outside of a spoon’s bowl is convex, meaning it curves outward. When you look into a convex mirror, your image will be right side up. The diagram shows how light is reflected from a convex mirror. Notice that this surface makes the image seem to appear behind the mirrored surface. Note how much smaller the image is.
Engineering is the application of science, mathematics, and experience to produce something or a process that is useful. Optical engineers are concerned with any device that directs the path of light in order to better assist sight. To do this, they must have knowledge of how things like mirrors affect the light that strikes them. This articles is about images produced by different kinds of mirrors.
DISCOVER FOR YOURSELF
Determine the effect of curved mirrors on the image they produce by looking at a large metal spoon. Hold the spoon with the inside of the bowl facing you. Move the spoon back and forth from your face until the clearest image is formed. You should see an upside down image.
You can find more fun challenging engineering and mirror activities in these Janice VanCleave Books: