Your own clone army has never been so real. If you've ever sat at the barber between two mirrors and felt like you were stuck in the Twilight Zone, get ready to feel that tingle of infinity all over again. And again and again and again. Set this simple project up in your home and classroom, and let light rays dance to create universes before your very eyes.
- What: Infinite World Viewer Infinite World Viewer Infinite World Viewer.....
- Concepts: light, reflection, physics, geometry, perception
- Time: ~ 30 minutes, and then forever
- Cost: ~$8 depending on size of mirror
- Acrylic mirror (mine was made of 2 12" x 12" sheets)
- 5 x eye hooks
- Wood to hang from
- String to hang with (make sure it's strong enough)
- Drill (I used a 1/4" screw bit and a 1 1/4" multispur bit)
- Dremel (optional)
- Sandpaper or sander (optional)
Get ready for inFUNity!
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Step 1: Get Those Mirrors Into Shape!
You can turn your mirrored acrylic into any shape you want! The size and shape are adjustable as long as the two are roughly the same. I started with two squares, but wanted to give them rounded corners. I traced a roll of tape along the corners, and then cut them with a dremel. I sanded them briefly so they came out all smooth and happy.
Step 2: Drill the Hanging Holes
Measure out the points where you'd like to hang your mirrors from. I chose to put my holes 1/2" down from the top and 9" apart on both mirrors. I used a 1/4" screw bit in a drill press to get 2 holes in each mirror in the same positions. Not too shabby!
Note: When drilling acrylic, it's good to go slowly with the "peck" method of drilling where you apply pressure and release in cycles to avoid cracking. You can use a hand drill for this step if you want instead.
Step 3: The Eye Holes
Now you need a place for those peepers. An average distance between human eyes is around 3" from center to center, so that's how I spaced out these holes. I chose to put them right in the center of the mirror so viewers could get reflections on all sides.
I used a 1 14" multispur bit to approximate a good field of vision when a viewer is close, but you can adjust. The bigger the whole, the harder it will be to drill cleanly. When drilling, make sure to use the "peck" method and also to go very slowly. It's a lot of torque being applied and acrylic can be a mischievous one under pressure.
Once you got these done, you're almost there!
Step 4: The Mirror Hanger
I cut a piece of 2x8 about 12" long, but yours can be in truly any shape. Pre-drill pilot holes to screw in the four eye hooks. Each pair should be as far apart as the hanging holes on the mirrors (mine were 9"). As for how far apart to put the two mirror faces from each other, you can experiment, but I found mine worked well at around 7".
Step 5: Tie the Mirrors On
Attach your mirrors to your hanger with some nylon string (or any other cord around). I started with a knot on one eye hook, fed it through a mirror, and then tied the other end to the partnering eye hook. You can adjust it to make it hang parallel to the ground pretty easily.
The slightly tricky part is getting the other mirror to hang at the same height, but with a little knot-tying and scissor wizardry, you'll be just fine. You can hold it up to test out the heights and even glance through the hole toward infinity. YAY!
Step 6: Hang Your Infinite World Viewer
Drill a pilot hole on the other side of your piece of wood from where your mirrors are hanging, and suspend it in the air. It's time to peel off the protective plastic on your mirror and let is shine! Run back below and get ready for infinity!
Step 7: See Your Worlds
Look through those holes to see worlds unfold before your very eyes. You can rotate the two mirrors, change their angles and heights to get a bunch of different effects. See if you can bend the images to the left and to the right. What can you see? What happens if you put something in the middle of the two? What about a lightbulb shining through them? Or in the middle? What kind of photography can you do? There's just so so so so so many possibilities (infinite?) of how you can explore and get a healthy dose of physics along the way.
If you're interested in the physics going on, the thing to look at is light ray diagrams. Through mapping out the geometry of light rays with their reflections, you can understand how mirrors work and how we project images with our brains into places where they don't exist. For example, when we look into even just one mirror, we see ourselves existing often through a wall. Check out this website to begin learning more.
Have fun, go explore, and let me know what you figure out in the comments below!