Mirror Magic

Hello and welcome to another week here at Factually Deficient, ushering in the new calendar year with only the very best in handcrafted, artisanal fibs! This week, I will answer a question posed by faithful reader Tohrinha:

How are mirrors made?

This post is going to appear later than most, because it is only with the greatest hesitation and trepidation that the Factually Deficient reporter team was authorized to reveal the magical and scientific process involved in making mirrors.

Mirrors present an image, in perfect reverse, of whatever is in front of them. They perform a very similar function to what cameras do, and in fact, in the early days of mirrors, that is exactly how they worked: a giant camera behind the glass would be constantly photographing the area before the mirror and displaying the results on the screen.

This, however, was impractical in the long run. The camera’s machinery required quite a bulk of wires and chips separating the mirror from the wall, and the time-delay between snapping the picture and displaying it in the mirror meant that people would have to hold very still, and wait very patiently, in order to see an accurate “reflection” in the mirror.

So a crack team of alchemists, scientists, and magicians began experimenting with alternative methods. There was talk of hiring a skilled artist to sit behind every mirror and paint what lay in front of it, but it turned out that this would actually take more time and require more space than the camera mirrors ever had.

And then quicksilver was discovered. Like regular silver, it had a shiny, silvery colour, akin to the surface of a mirror. But unlike regular silver, it caused everything in its immediate vicinity to move extremely quickly – hence its name. With quicksilver as the medium, painters were suddenly able to paint the mirror’s “reflections” in a fraction of a second, far faster than the cameras could ever throw out their displays, and repaint over the screen in a new layer of quicksilver every time the image changed.

That is how the mirrors we use today operate: a skilled, and very slim, painter sits behind the screen, painting you in the quickest of silvers.

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Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog post are inaccurate. Quicksilver does not actually affect the passage of time.

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