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Chinese Magic Mirrors

Chinese Magic Mirrors are ancient mirrors which are not made out of glass but bronze. It is believed that these mirrors were first made during Han dynasty. The front of the mirror has a shiny surface and is used as a mirror and the back has a design casted in bronze. The illusion is such that, when a bright source of light throws light on the mirror, the mirror seems to become transparent. On the other hand, if the light falling on the mirror is reflected to another surface, the design on the bronze part of the mirror is shown on the reflected surface.

origin of these supposedly transparent mirrors

The origin of these supposedly transparent mirrors is unknown but it has been widely used during Hans and Tang dynasty. Chinese polymath scientist Shen Kuo had the last set of mirrors. Shen was suspicious that some sort of quenching techniques was used to make tiny wrinkles to let light pass through.

 Bronze magic mirror

basic design of mirror

The basic design of mirror included a flat shiny surface, but the wear and tear over the time made the thinner parts of the shiny surface to bulge out and gradually become more convex than the thicker part. When an alloy of mercury was placed on the surface, it added to the stress on surface. Eventually the imperfections of the surface matched to the designs on the back side. Now when a bright light is reflected on the shiny surface, the newly formed pattern is reflected on the reflected surface and it appears as if the mirror is transparent.

References : wikipedia

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