Why Do Mirrors Flip Left & Right (but not up & down)? | Summary and Q&A

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December 6, 2019
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minutephysics
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Why Do Mirrors Flip Left & Right (but not up & down)?

TL;DR

Mirrors don't flip left and right, but rather they flip depth, and the appearance of flipped words in mirrors is because of our perception.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why do mirrors appear to flip left and right?

Mirrors only flip depth and not left and right. The flipped appearance of words in mirrors is due to how we orient objects that are then reflected in the mirror.

Q: How do mirrors create the illusion of a parallel universe?

Mirrors create the illusion of a parallel universe because they reflect light according to the principle of specular reflection, making it seem as if the light is behaving similarly to a window into another world.

Q: Can mirrors actually flip left and right?

A single mirror cannot flip left and right. The left-right flip occurs when there are multiple mirrors or if the mirrors are rotated, resulting in the inversion of left-right orientation.

Q: What determines the flipped orientation of words in mirrors?

The orientation of words in mirrors is determined by how we position objects in front of the mirror and whether we flip them left-right or top-bottom. Mirrors themselves do not flip the words.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Mirrors do not actually flip left and right or up and down; they flip the direction into or out of the mirror, altering the depth perception.

  • The phenomenon of flipped words in mirrors is due to our orientation and flipping of objects in front of the mirror, not the mirror itself.

  • Multiple mirrors or rotation of mirrors can result in a left-right flip or an up-down flip.

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