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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Mirror

HISTORY

The first mirrors used by people were most likely pools of crystal clear still water, or water collected in a primitive vessel of some sort.

The first manufactured mirrors were pieces of polished stone such as obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass. Such mirrors dated to around 6000 BC have been found in graves in central Turkey.

In ancient times mirrors were polished pieces of brass, gold, and silver.  Such metal mirrors remained the norm through to Greco-Roman Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages in Europe.

Seated woman holding a mirror. Ancient Greek Attic red-figure lekythos, c. 470–460 BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens. By Marsyas - Wikipedia Commons

Mirrors of polished copper were crafted in Mesopotamia from 4000 BC and were regarded as portals to a supernatural realm.

The Hebrews used mirrors. Exodus 38v8 states "He made the bronze basin and its bronze base out of the mirrors belonging to the women who served at the door of the tabernacle."

Metal-coated glass mirrors are said to have been invented in Sidon (modern-day Lebanon) in the first century AD.

Glass mirrors backed with gold leaf are mentioned by the Roman author Pliny in his Natural History, written in about 77 AD. The Romans also developed a technique for creating crude mirrors by coating blown glass with molten lead.

The reason people believe breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck is due to ancient Romans believing life renewed itself every seven years and that breaking a mirror would damage one's self until the next seven year renewal period.

Some time during the early Renaissance, European manufacturers perfected the silvering process by using tinfoil and mercury applied to the back of a sheet of glass. This gave a clear reflection and popularized the use of the mirror. Venice, a city famed for its glass-making expertise, became a center of mirror production using this new technique in the 16th century. However, glass mirrors from this period were extremely expensive luxuries.

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles has 357 mirrors. When it was built in the late 17th century, several workers were hired from Venice, renowned for its expertise in the field. Legend has it Venice sent spies to poison the workers to keep their mirror know-how secret.

18th century vermeil mirror in the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Strasbourg By Gryffindor - Wikipedia Commons

The invention of the silvered-glass mirror is credited to German chemist Justus von Liebig (May 12, 1803 – April 18, 1873) in 1835. His process involved the deposition of a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate.  He improved the technique twenty years later  by adding copper to ammoniated silver nitrate and sugar. Although it was not widely adopted until after Liebig's death, when safety legislation finally prohibited the use of mercury in making mirrors, Liebig's process for silvering eventually was adapted for mass manufacturing and led to the greater availability of affordable mirrors.


FUN FACTS

The reason you are able to see yourself in a mirror is because light comes in and gets reflected in such a way that it preserves many or most of the detailed physical characteristics of the original light.

A mirror, reflecting a vase. By Cgs - Wikipedia Commons

The Italian town of Viganella gets no direct sunlight for about seven weeks each winter. In order to solve this problem, in 2006, a computer controlled mirror was installed which is controlled in such a way that it reflects sunlight into the town's main city square during the day time.

Human babies are unable to recognize themselves in mirrors until they are 12-20 months of age.

Catoptrophobia is the fear of mirrors.

Rubbing a cucumber slice on your bathroom mirror will help you get rid of the steam.

Astronauts left mirrors on the moon so that laser beams can be bounced off of them from Earth to measure the distance with precision.

Mirrors are placed near elevators as a psychological trick to make wait seem more tolerable. People like to look at themselves.

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