General Question

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

When you hold a mirror in front of another mirror, do the repeated images that are reflected back go on forever?

Asked by MRSHINYSHOES (13951points) September 27th, 2010

Have you ever held a mirror in front of another mirror and “looked down” the repeated images that are reflected back to you? I know you can only see as far as your eyes can take you, but I have always wondered if the images go on indefinitely, or is there a definite end to them? I know this is a silly, bizarre question, but I’ve always been curious.

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10 Answers

cyn's avatar

Ha! You’ve received more Great Questions than answers! That’s funny! GQ, by the way
To be honest, I’ve wondered this some time in my life. I don’t think I have an answer, but great question! (:
I want to try this now!

jerv's avatar

Practically, but not actually. They get smaller as they go on, and eventually Planck’s Length will put a kibosh on the fun as the reflections get smaller than is possible.

Rarebear's avatar

Just to add to what @jerv said, the material in the mirror will ultimately absorb all the photons.

maggiechen55's avatar

In accordance with the principle,it is true.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@jerv So there is an end? Or is it theoretically possible that the images can go on and on and on, depending on mirror size?

I’ve always thought that mirrors had a “mysterious side” to them, almost ghostly, ever since I was a kid. I remember as a child looking at a big mirror across from my bed, trying to see if I could spot a ghost or some spooky image in the dark. I remember watching this “Boris Karloff Thriller” episode that had a mysterious mirror in it, where a spirit resided and haunted people. Lol. This fear was perpetuated by my family’s use of small mirrors to “ward off” evil and such.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, there is an end, as explained above.

stratman37's avatar

And for God’s sake, don’t stick your HAND in there when you do it!

Vortico's avatar

What @jerv said. If the reflection coefficient is 90% (which is pretty close to what glass is), after 100 reflections, the number of photons will be 0.0027% of the original amount. Since no source can cause a photon to be emitted exactly at the perpendicular angle to the mirror without its reflection being obstructed by the source (assuming equal angle reflecteds), this is unlikely to happen.

downtide's avatar

When I was a kid we had a bathroom cabinet with three mirrored doors which opened in such a way that you could make a triangle, with all three mirrors facing each other. I used to spend ages peeking through the gap looking at the reflections disappearing in on themselves. Visual feedback. I tried to count them often, but I can’t remember how many I could see. Twenty, maybe.

xdeathtothestardomx's avatar

They get too small to see after a while, but they are still there…

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