Instructions for: Optical Toy


The Optical Toy consists of a set of distorted drawings and photographs, and a few cylindrical mirrors used to decipher them.

Typically, a mirror of this shape creates no discernible image, as reflections of normal objects are hopelessly bent out of shape, turned into only linear forms running along the axis of the mirror cylinder.

However, when reflecting a normal image distorted into a polar (circular) pattern, the cylindrical mirror becomes a useful tool. Here, the mirror is used to undistort the indecipherable images into a recognizable form.

Stand the silvered tube at the center of the circle printed on the included drawings, and look at the reflection on the side. You should see a familiar outdoor scene, or a collection of squares, triangles, and circles, previously just distorted lines on the paper.


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Copyright 2004 Straley/Pinney - The University of Kentucky Physics Petting Zoo