Making Magnificent Mirrors with Math

Posted on January 20, 2009  Comments (1)

At Drexel, he designs amazing mirrors

Could math provide the path to better reflection? Perline asked.

Indeed it could. Eight years and numerous calculations later, Hicks is now testing a prototype mirror – for a car, not a bike – and he is in talks with a foreign manufacturer. As with the bike mirror, the rounded surface provides a wide field of view – so wide that it eliminates the dreaded, driver-side “blind spot” – yet the subtle mathematics of his design result in little or no distortion.

He didn’t stop there. The 42-year-old mathematician went on to design half a dozen other reflective surfaces for various applications – a few of them in collaboration with Perline – and they are like nothing you’d ever see on the bathroom wall.

Panoramic mirrors. Mirrors for use with high-tech surveillance cameras. Mirrors with odd, undulating surfaces that are fashioned with a computer-guided milling machine. And one wacky mirror that doesn’t yield a mirror image at all. If you raise one hand while looking into the curved surface, your reflection appears to be raising the opposite hand.

It’s not clear what use that one will have, beyond entertainment – Perline calls it “the vampire mirror” – but with his driver-side prototype, Hicks may be onto something.

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One Response to “Making Magnificent Mirrors with Math”

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