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Content Review -- “Did you know”
Mirrors, but not as we know them  

Continuing our articles on the ‘History of Mirrors’ we move forward in time and in technology:

The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used polished bronze and copper to make their mirrors, which were used not only as looking glasses, but items of decoration and luxury, and to exhibit one’s wealth as well; these polished metals often carrying decorative gems and engravings around the edges – much in the same vein as we use frames.

There is some dispute over the time of the creation of the first glass mirror. Some historians believe that they were created around the 3rd Century AD, others believe that they were first invented around the 1st Century AD. All seem to agree, however, that they were invented in Lebanon, most theories pointing particularly to an area known as Sidon.

Both reports, though, agree that they were invented not long after the discovery of glass making. Small sheets of glass were backed with metals such as lead for the wealthy, or gold leaf for the very wealthy, to provide the reflective element to them. These early glass mirrors weren’t particularly popular, though, as they were only produced in sizes around 3 inches in diameter and the quality of the reflections were generally poor.

Now we have mirrors made of glass, with a fine layer of silver coating on the back. This process, called ‘silvering’, was invented by Justus Van Liebig – a German chemist - in 1835. Make sure you keep an eye on our blog and newsletters to find out more.

Mirrors, but not as we know them
Appeared in issues 16 --- February 2015 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Mirror, mirror on the … moon?  

Mirrors show the moon is getting further away from us.

The moon is, on average, 238,857 miles away from the earth, depending on its position in its elliptical orbit. We know this because astronauts on the Apollo mission left a mirror, known as The Laser Ranging Retroreflector, behind so that it could be used to accurately measure the distance from the Earth to the moon. Essentially, it’s a series of corner-cube reflectors which reflect laser beams back in the direction from which they originate. These laser beams are aimed at the moon via large telescopes on Earth and their reflected light enables scientists to measure the distance to the moon with an error margin of merely 1inch. This is how we now know that the moon is receding at a rate of around 1.5inches per year. These measurements have even been used to test Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Mirror, mirror on the … moon?
Appeared in issues 15 --- November 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Reflections … What do they matter?  

Mirrors can reflect a number of things, light, sound and also … matter!

This type of mirror is known as an atomic mirrors and it reflects atoms of matter just as an orthodox mirror will reflect light. Most use electromagnetic fields, some though, just use silicon water. The reflection from one of these mirrors is effectively a quantum reflection of a wave of matter. It reflects neutral atoms that move slowly. This type of process can be used to trap atoms or focus atomic beams. They also tend to work better when ridged due to the greater wavelengths of matter compared to photons of light.

Reflections … What do they matter?
Appeared in issues 14 --- September 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Sheraton first for Chevals  

English furniture designer, Thomas Sheraton 1751 - 1806.

Featured designs for cheval mirrors with drawers on one side and with writing surfaces attached in his 1803 edition of ‘The Cabinet Dictionary’.

Possibly becoming the earliest designer of what now know as the modern Cheval Mirror.

Sheraton first for Chevals
Appeared in issues 13 --- August 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Mirrors - Myth and Legend  

Ever since Narcissus was first bewitched by his own image in Ancient Greek mythology, mankind has been fascinated by the ethereal facets of mirrors and the worlds they reflect. As a result of this fascination an inordinate number of myths and legends have been attached to mirrors by countless different cultures throughout history.

Here at MirrorWorld we’ve had our interest piqued, so over the next few editions, we thought we'd explore some of the more weird and whacky myths out there.

Mirrors have long been associated with magic rites and rituals. This stems back from as long ago as the Ancient Greek times. One of the foremost uses of mirrors in magic has been for divination; the art of fortune telling and predicting the future.

In Ancient Greek times, this was known as either catoptromancy or enoptromancy, and involved the witch or magician who practiced the art dangling a mirror on a thread, until its lower edge touched the surface of the water. Then, by looking into the mass of reflections created by the mirror and water reflecting each other, the future could be told.

Another of the many magical practices that mirrors have been used for across the years and cultures is that of scrying.

Scrying is one of the oldest types of divination in recorded history, first appearing in China in 3000 BC, then later in Egypt in around 2500BC and Greece circa 2000BC.

The word, 'scrying', comes from the English word 'descry' which means 'to make out dimly' or 'to reveal'. There have been multitudes of uses for scrying mirrors throughout history, most commonly; to see the future or past, to find lost objects or people and to track criminals, or others if your purpose was less savoury.

In Ancient Rome, diviners known as 'blindfolded boys', were known to gaze into mirrors to experience hallucinations of the future. According to the 4th Century text, 'Scriptores Historiae Augustae', the death of Julian the Apostate was correctly prophesised by blindfolded boys using this technique.

The famous 16th Century French apothecary and supposed seer, Nostradamus, is said to have used a mirror made from black obsidian for his divinations.

More recently, 1853 Brothers Grimm fairy-tale, Snow White, makes use of a magic mirror, showing that these superstitions, if not entirely believed, have certainly survived the test of time.

Some believe an alternate use for scrying mirrors made from obsidian is to view yourself in parallel or past lives. By standing in a dark room with a candle (torch these days) below your face, after staring into the mirror for a while, you will see your features repeatedly change.

At MirrorWorld, we can't predict the future, but we can make you the fairest mirror of them all!

Mirrors - Myth and Legend
Appeared in issues 12 --- August 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Mirrors Can Be Used To Reflect Sound  

Known as acoustic mirrors, these devices are used to reflect and focus sound waves.

After the First World War and prior to the Second World War, a series of these structures (also known as Sound Mirrors or Listening Ears) designed as an early warning system for Britain to detect enemy aircraft, were built at Dungeness in Kent.

Built between 1928 and 1930, these three concrete, ‘listening ears’, actually formed a fragment of Britain’s national defence strategy and ranged between 20 and 200 feet in size. They were designed to detect the sound waves emitted by the approach of enemy aircraft as they flew over the Channel.

They work by catching the sound-waves in the centre of the mirrors and transmitting them via a series of microphones and stethoscopes to an operator who would raise the alarm, ensuring that anti-aircraft guns were positioned in time to counteract any threat. The mirrors generally gave between 10 and 15 minutes warning before any looming attack.

The first of the mirrors to be built was the smallest, 20 feet in diameter. It was precast as a single slab of curved concrete. By the time the second mirror was built in 1930, lessons had been learnt. The second mirror was 30 feet in diameter and was set alongside the original mirror but at a slightly different angle to provide superior accuracy. The third and final mirror was 200 feet long and 26 feet high. It was also built in 1930, along the same stretch of coast as the original two and had microphones attached to its curved surfaces. In positive conditions, it could detect enemy aircraft up to 24 miles away.

The mirrors functioned most effectively for slow moving aircraft. They worked by concentrating sound waves towards the centre of the, ‘mirror’, where the microphone was located. However, their effectiveness diminished as aircraft became faster. Their operators also found it problematic to differentiate between aircraft and seagoing vessels.

The mirrors can be found to this day on an island at Greatstone Lakes in the Dungeness Nature Reserve. They are private, though, and can only be accessed on open days and during special guided walks.

The only sound mirror outside of England is situated on the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean. It is known to locals as, ‘il widna’, which is Maltese for, ‘the ear’.

Despite the initial success of the acoustic mirrors, they rapidly became obsolete due to the invention of radar.

Mirrors Can Be Used To Reflect Sound
Appeared in issues 12 --- August 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Time Travel, maybe it's all smoke and mirrors  

We all heard is possible to travel through a wormhole and back time, right?

However, there's just one snag, they tend to collapse, which stops anything from passing through them, sort of defeating the object really.. But, help is at hand, with a simple pair of mirrors. All you need is two uncharged mirrors (or metallic plates) in a vacuum, placed a few micrometers apart—make sure there is no external electromagnetic field. Now comes the Casimir effect, which is a physical force arising from a quantized field between the two mirrors.

This quantum electrodynamic force produces a mass-negative region of space-time between the mirrors, which could stabilize a wormhole, and allow faster-than-light travel. Theoretically, you could travel to the past, but not the future—so you couldn’t get next week’s winning lotto numbers, unfortunately. Another fly in the ointment is that the stable wormholes produced by the mirrors are infinitesimally small, so don’t plan a holiday to visit your ancient ancestors just yet

Time Travel, maybe it's all smoke and mirrors
Appeared in issues 9 --- June 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Hubbles Near Failure  

You may already know the Hubble telescope and its stunning pictures taken from space, rightly classed as one of NASA greater achievements. But did you know it nearly never took any pictures at all?

When the pictures were first sent back by the telescope they we blurred and fuzzy, all down to the optical main mirror being too flat. Saying that, it wasn't by much, a mere 2.2 microns, or to you and me about 1/50th the thickness of a human hair - but even by this smallest of margins it nearly put the whole project in the annals of historic epic fails.

A small speck of paint it thought to of been the culprit, stuck to the measuring device used to test the mirror, resulting in a false reading of the measurements.

NASA scientists however, don't give up that easily, and their clever boffins came up with a workable solution in 1993. By using an instrument they called the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (Costar). just trips f the tongue doesn't it? They managed to counter the problem with the main mirror, by complementing it with an opposing reading.

Hubbles Near Failure
Appeared in issues 8 --- June 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Aztec Mirror  

Once we'd stopped messing around in puddles for our mirrors ( see earlier article ) the more forward thinking civilizations started to think of other ways to see themselves. Carrying around a pool of water around in your pocket didn't seem too convenient not to mention wet..

The early South American cultures thought up polishing stones and iron ore, to create highly reflective surfaces, which they promptly decorated. you could say they'd just invented the earliest mirror bling...  

Aztec Mirror
Appeared in issues 6 --- May 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
7 years bad luck  

Myth and Legend

Many moons ago it was openly believed that your reflection was an image of the soul. So breaking a mirror whilst looking into it, condemned your soul to broken too.  

That's one of the popular explanations behind that seven-years-bad-luck superstition.

Another perhaps more believable thought was that in the eighteenth-century mirrors were way too expensive to break.

And until quite recently in fact, there were parts of Ireland where a mirror is covered when there's been a bereavement in the house – thus preventing the soul from getting trapped in the mirror. Creepy!

7 years bad luck
Appeared in issues 5 --- April 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Earliest Mirrors  

We all take them for granted now, but what did we do before glass? before mirrors?

Well, the early civilization didn't take long to come up a very rudimentary but rather neat solution.

Simply carve a hollow in the stone and let it fill with water, voila,  instant mirror, easy really. 

Earliest Mirrors
Appeared in issues 4 --- March 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Worlds Largest Mirror  

No.. It's not photo shopped

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia has the current accolade of being the the world’s largest salt flat, measuring 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). Approximately 30,000–42,000 years ago, the area was part of a giant prehistoric lake, Lake Minchin. When it dried, it left behind two modern lakes and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the larger Salar de Uyuni.

Covered by a few meters of salt crust, with an extraordinary flatness. The average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The large area, clear skies and exceptional surface flatness make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. When covered with water, this extraordinary place becomes one of the largest mirrors on Earth.

Worlds Largest Mirror
Appeared in issues 3 --- March 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
On reflection, may be not!  

A lovely gift for his beautiful wife turned it a bit of a white elephant.

When Ian Grice paid £30,000 for a chrome-plated Mini Cooper as a Valentine's present for his wife Toni, he thought he'd made a fantastic choice of gift.

Now Ian's been left to reflect on his decision.

The problem, no one wants to insure the mirror finished mini.. 'I've been left with the world's most expensive mirror,' he complained. 'No one will touch it with a barge pole.'

On reflection, may be not!
Appeared in issues 2 --- March 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016
Hat's my boy..  

Noddy Holders Hat:

Noddy, has given away to charity all his hats and most of his outfits from his days as lead singer with Slade…..except the mirrored top hat which is securely stored in a London bank vault!

Hat's my boy..
Appeared in issues 1 --- February 2014 Content and images © Mirrorworld 2016