Q:

How does a kaleidoscope work?

A:

Quick Answer

A kaleidoscope works by reflecting light that bumps into a reflective surface such as a mirror. It has two or more mirrors placed at an angle to each other. The mirror assembly is surrounded by a case, with an eyehole at one end of the mirrors and a collection of objects at the other end.

Know More
How does a kaleidoscope work?
Credit: fdecomite CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

These reflective surfaces typically form a triangle or V shape. When a kaleidoscope is turned, the pieces move and a different design can be seen. The reflections bounce back and forth inside the tube creating various images. What a person sees when looking through the eyehole is never exactly the same twice. Typically, kaleidoscopes have a collection of glass pieces, beads and buttons that form intricate and attractive designs. This is partly because of symmetry. All repeated images are symmetrical in relation to the image beside them. A precise combination of reflective surfaces results in precise symmetrical images.

The objects inside a kaleidoscope move, this is why after rotating or shaking the container, the objects never have the same arrangement a second time. It is also not possible to have two completely identical designs. Different patterns are formed as object reflections move from one side to another and merge with others. Three or more mirrors create a design with geometric and more intricate patterns and endless reflections. For example, a kaleidoscope with three mirrors creates complex triangular reflections.

Learn More

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do I make a kaleidoscope for a science project?

    A:

    To make a kaleidoscope for a science fair project, you need a clear 33mm film container, a piece of mirrored paperboard, plastic wrap, tape and scissors. You also need beads, crayon shavings and cake sprinkles for your design.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a convex mirror?

    A:

    A convex mirror is in the shape of a curve, and the reflecting surface bulges outward toward the source of light. Because convex mirrors reflect the light in an outward direction, they do not serve to focus light. Instead, these mirrors create a virtual image, because the center of curvature and the focus are imaginary and inside the mirror, which is not a real position. It is impossible to project images from a convex mirror onto a screen.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What happens when a convex mirror is placed upside down?

    A:

    A convex mirror placed upside down or upright does not invert the image of its subject. A convex mirror bows outward, and therefore its focal point is behind its surface. If the focal point is at or behind the surface of a reflective object, then images observed in that object appear consistent with the viewer's orientation.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How are mirror reflections used in physics?

    A:

    Mirror reflections are used in the construction and working of solar cookers, solar heaters, periscopes, binoculars, looking mirrors, microscopes, cameras and in a kaleidoscope. Apart from plane mirrors, reflection of light from convex and concave mirrors is used in everyday applications too.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore