Q:

Why does a mirror reflect light?

A:

Quick Answer

According to Scientific American, all objects reflect light, but very few reflect light in a way that allows one to see an image like that seen in a mirror. This is due to a certain type of light reflection called specular reflection. This type of reflection doesn't scatter light. Instead, it directs light directly back toward the observer, which allows for a clear image.

Continue Reading
Why does a mirror reflect light?
Credit: *Vintage Fairytale* CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Light isn't seen by the human eye until it's reflected from an object. In the case of a silver mirror, a standard glass mirror with a silver-lined back, the light passes through the glass, hits the silver and reflects back toward the observer. However, some light is also reflected back from the glass as well. Since glass and silver reflect light differently, the result is a clear image and an intense reflection of light.

In addition to specular reflection, there are two other types of light reflections: reflected light and diffuse reflection. Reflected light occurs when light beams hit a smooth surface, and the light is then reflected in the opposite direction at the exact same angle. When light hits an uneven surface, however, the light beam is scattered in all directions, which is called diffuse reflection.

Learn more about Colors

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What determines the color of light?

    A:

    Light's color is determined by the wavelength of the light energy striking the eye. The eye contains three kinds of cells that are specialized for picking up only certain wavelengths of light. When this information is relayed to the brain, the wavelength is interpreted as color.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why does black absorb light?

    A:

    Black absorbs all of the wavelengths of light, converting them into heat. At the same time, black does not reflect any of the other colors.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some interesting facts about light and shadows?

    A:

    A shadow is caused when an object blocks light. Shade is actually a large shadow, often caused by blockage from a tree, building or another large object. Shade is often cool because the infrared rays from the sun that cause heat are also blocked. Most types of illumination are bright enough to cause shadows, including a full moon.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    When does the refraction of light occur?

    A:

    Refraction occurs as light moves through the boundary between a fast medium and a slow medium. The transmission of light across the boundary causes the wave length and speed of the light wave to change.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore