What color is a mirror?

Discussion in 'General' started by Tron, Jun 25, 2004.

1. Completely sober question......what color is a mirror? I think its just whatever colors surround it (obviously) but when its completely dark, is it just nothing? man....trippy.

2. From: Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy

Now that is a question I never would have thought of!
First lets define what color is. What we call white light is actually made up of lots of different colors of light, literally all the colors of the rainbow. It has been known for hundreds of years that light can behave like a wave. You can think of it like a series of ripples, with a height to each ripple and a distance between the incoming ripples (called the wavelength). The color of light is determined by the wavelength: the long wavelengths make red light, somewhat shorter makes yellow, shorter even than that makes blue.

Suppose you are wearing a red shirt. That means that of all the colors of light hitting the shirt, they all get absorbed by the shirt except for red. The red light gets reflected by the shirt and into your eye. So the color of an object depends on what wavelengths of light it reflects. If it reflects all wavelengths, we say it is white. If it reflects none it is black.

A perfect mirror does actually reflect all light hitting it. So why doesn't it look white? It's because a mirror reflects light in a coherent manner; that is, the light is reflected back from the mirror depending on how the light came in. A white shirt just reflects light back everywhere in all directions. Even if red and blue light hit the shirt coming from the same direction, they may get scattered in different directions. A mirror, on the other hand, reflects the blue and red light in the same direction, and so the mirror actually builds an image of the source of the light.

So you can think of a mirror as being white, since it reflects all colors, but a smart kind of white. I guess you could say that a mirror is simply the color of whatever light source it sees!

3. the same color as glass. they just reflect more colors than regular glass

4. Glass has no colour. But a mirror is silver. Easy as that. Ever looked at yer reflection in a spoon? Well, that's the whole trick. Only with a mirror they put glass over the silver (foil).

6. See, thats kind of what I figured...

7. Mirrors are simply silvered glass so therefore it must be silver.

8. ^^ I agree

9. Color exists purely in our eyes.
For example, sound is simply vibration. We only "hear" something, because the vibration is translated into audible "sound" in our ears through an intricate organ system. So, with that, sound is just the audible translation of vibrations by a living organism on the earth. In all actuality, Earth is soundless. It is only with the intervention of our sensory organs/existance of, that we are able to live in a world with '"sound."
"Sure there's sound!," you might say. Hehe. Well, take a smaller organism such as an insect; it cannot hear. It reacts on vibrations that are picked up through its sensory organs; which, unfortunatley for the insect, cannot translate these vibrations into sound.

In the case of the mirror, or color in general, it simply does not exist. Color is not a constant (which is explains why some organisms see things differently colored than humans. Even other humans - those with colorblindness or some sort of visual under/over-development). What we see as "color" is the translation of different rays of light into something visible that we see as a colorful imagine in our mind. If you can imagine looking at an object. Do not see it for what it is. Its' existance is not a sole existance. It relies on every existance surrounding it. These surroundings make up the existance. (<--kinda hard to explain without a digram).

What color is a mirror? I say it has no color. And it's "actual" "color" would have to be a state of physical existance that, as human beings with only the ability to see this image in one way, is unfathomable.

10. Well, Sensi. Only for you to understand the question, I'll rephrase: The lightwaves reflected from a mirror (not the reflection of another thing, but the mirror itself) that hit our eyes, how much Herz do they have and in case they hit a human male eye: Which detectors would they stimulate and how would the brain interpret these impulses in terms of language (colour)???

Did you like this question better than the original one? Cause that's what he asked, lol

11. Well for one an imperfect mirror would actually reflect the red end of the spectrum better than the blue. I think. Because the scattering coefficient type thing is dependent upon the wavelength vs the size of the grooves or atoms or whatever the imperfections in the mirror may be. Which means that any imperfect mirror (ie all mirrors) would I suppose be more like a light blue than pure white.

Light is complicated.

On the other hand, since mirrors don't really scatter any light they don't really take on a colour. Or at least it scatters a negligible amount of light. If it didn't, then it wouldn't be a mirror.

12. holy shit are all of you geniusus's or something or am i just really high??????????w

13. yes

14. No man it's just that they all like talking bollocks.

Light can be broken down into it's component colours (the spectrum) and your eye acts as a reciever and your brain translates the information into a recognisable form and color.
This is of course presuming you have "normal" vision, if so then of course the time of day the type of light used and even surrounding objects will all cast there own reflected light onto the surface of the mirror affecting the colour it reflects.

But the removal of the layer on the back of the mirror when viewed under normal daylight with 20/20 vision and no color blindness will been seen to be silver.

Any other type of light will change the colour accordingly.

15. Everything I said was true. Physics doesn't lie.

16. Haha, I assure you there was no copying done on my part =- O

17. No copying on my either

Well...I wrote the same thing as you even before you wrote yours. So that makes you full of bull, too, haha