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Magic Box


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Three magic boxes standing on a table, two of them are closed and one opened to see its interior.

Okay, this picture needs some explanation. Look at the 'Magic Box' standing nearest to you. You see a little car standing on the top of the magic box, don't you? Now I should tell you to touch the car (but I don't because I don't want your monitor to have fingerprints on it.). Anyway, you would fail because there isn't anything standing on the magic box at all. At the place where you see the car there is a hole! You see inside the magic box and you see the reflection of the car which is on the bottom of the box. You can look at the interior of the box, there is an opened magic box on the right behind the first one. It consists of two parabolic mirrors. I put the third magic box (on the left) to proof that there is really nothing on the magic box. If the car would be really where you imagine it, it would intersect with the pencil.

The speciality with this mirror box is that, in contrast to a normal mirror, you get a 'real' image of the reflected object. That means you can walk around the box and the car doesn't move, it looks still like it is really there. Of course this works only up to a certain viewing angle.

How do these mirrors work? Take a certain point of the car. Because there is light shining on this point there are light rays going away from this point in all directions. The mirrors are shaped in such a way (parabolic) that all these rays meet on the top of the mirror box again in one point and so we can't differ whether these rays come from a real object or are just reflected.

Such tricks are often used in the world of magic.

This was my IRTC entry for 'Imaginary Worlds'. It was ranked 71 out of 143. Read the voter's comments to this picture.

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© by Micha Riser, May 2001