When Alice finds that she can’t fit through the little door to get into the beautiful garden because she is too big, she notices a glass bottle with a paper label which reads Drink Me.
A Drink Mepotion is a magical liquid in Wonderland – it has the effect of making the drinker shrink in size
This potion bottle has magically appeared on the table. Alice wonders if it is safe to drink, and she thinks to herself ‘If one drinks much from a bottle marked Poison it is certain to disagree with one, sooner or later’. However, the bottle did not have the word Poisonwritten on it, so Alice drinks every last drop of the bottle’s liquid and finds that it tastes delicious. It had a flavour of cherry tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffee and hot buttered toast, all mixed up. She then shrinks down to only ten inches tall (approx 25cm) after drinking from this bottle.
Personally I did not like this part of Alice in Wonderland as a child and it has haunted me ever since. What writer puts that into a children’s story? Believing labels, swigging from bottles, shrinking in size. The stuff of horrors akin to storing cleaning fluid in soft drink bottles. Okay, I realise it is a fantasy story which has stood the test of time and been reproduced in many formats, still… I guess for me, reading this tale in childhood, there was the thought of ‘No, Alice, don’t drink it!’ without knowing she has to propel the story forward in the most unlikely way. Yes, it is a unique and radical plotline but I still see it as experimental drug-taking.
Apologies to staunch fans with no hang-ups, and those who embrace Lewis Carroll’s Todd’s syndrome or Dysmetropsia, a neuropsychological condition which causes strange hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects. It can make the sufferer feel bigger or smaller than they are – a theme of the book – write what you know. Then, and now, I have never seen Alice’s adventures in Wonderland as entertaining. I view this book as akin to a fitful, nightmarish fever dream. The characters are irredeemably scary, even Johnny Depp couldn’t save it for me.
The nerd in me just loves these ten crazy true facts about mirrors! I was actually searching for a fiction story based on a mirror but discovered Dr Ruth Searle’s website and decided her information was far more interesting.
Read on . . .
10. Mirrors And Time Travel
We know that a mirror can do more than reflect your image. And I won’t even start to document the amount of films I’ve seen or books I’ve read where the doorway to another world is through a mirror. A mirrored portal can lead you into an enchanted world of the future or the past; a doorway into a fantasy, paranormal or parallel world; a dystopian dreamscape or endless deep space—supposedly—however, with scientific know-how, Dr Ruth Searle explains HOW wormholes CAN make it possible to travel into the past.
9. Mirrors, Phantom Limbs, And The Human Brain
Experiments using mirrors on patients with phantom limbs have allowed researchers to learn a lot about the workings of our brain. Using a “smoke and mirrors” style optical illusion, researchers placed mirrors vertically on a table and used them to reflected the patient’s intact limb… there’s details on creating new neural pathways due to the plasticity of the brain and the connection between vision and touch.
8. Mirrors Cause Hallucinations
“A strange illusion is conjured up when you stare at your reflection in a mirror” writes Ruth Searle. This one slightly freaked me out because I remember as a girl I was told to stare into a mirror in the evening and soon I would see the face of my one true love. Anyway I stared and stared, and the more I stared, the more frightened I became. I never saw anything but I never did try that again.
If you are up for it, the instructions read “At first, you will find that there are small distortions in your face in the mirror. Then, gradually, after several minutes, your face will begin to change more dramatically, and look more like a waxwork, like the face doesn’t belong to you.” Shiver, no thanks!
7. Can Everyone Recognise Themselves In A Mirror?
Apparently children develop mirror self-recognition by about two years old but cultural differences can sometimes influence recognition and is not a sign that they lack the ability to separate themselves psychologically from other humans. One for those parental “aaw, cute” moments when their kid kisses the mirror.
6. Animals That Have Mirror Self-Recognition
Some researchers think certain animals are able to pass a test for recognising their own reflection. Animals which pass the traditional mirror self-recognition test naturally include chimpanzees and orangutans but several others surprised me. Killer whales anyone..?
5. Mirrors On The Moon
This sentence sounds like sci-fi but if you don’t believe me, read it yourself: “The Laser Ranging Retroreflector was left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts, and is used to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Moon. It is essentially a series of corner-cube reflectors—a special type of mirror—which reflects a laser beam back in the direction it came from… Not only can the Laser Ranging Retroreflector measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but it has improved our knowledge of the Moon.” There’s more on the website.
4. Mirrors Can Also Reflect Sound
Before radars were invented, mirrors which reflect sound waves were known as “acoustic mirrors” and were used in Britain during World War II to detect certain sound waves coming from enemy aircraft. It is worth checking the photo to see this almost modern art installation.
3. Reflecting Matter With Mirrors
I absolutely love this Sheldon-like paragraph “Amazingly, mirrors can also reflect matter. Such mirrors are known in physics as atomic mirrors. An atomic mirror reflects atoms of matter just as a conventional mirror reflects light. They use electromagnetic fields to reflect neutral atoms, although some just use silicon water…” Put on your Big Bang t-shirt and read the rest of it, I dare you.
2. True Mirrors
Dr Ruth Searle writes “It’s actually a myth that a mirror reverses your image—your reflection is not flipped. What you see is the left-hand side of your face on the left of the mirror, and the right-hand side on the right, giving the illusion that your reflection is reversed. However, a non-reversing mirror, or true mirror, was developed… primarily for applying cosmetics.” On Zoom, there is a function which allows you to reverse your image and I find it very disorientating.
1. Splitting Light With A Mirror
I did not know that mirrors not only reflect light, sound, and matter, but they can also split light beams. A basic beam splitter is a cube, made from two glass prisms connected at their base. The illustration for this one makes it look amazingly simple but the explanation says beam splitters are used in many scientific instruments including telescopes so their function would have to be precise.
So there you have it, folks, a short ramble through the never-ending joys of the internet.
ListVerse:10 Crazy Facts About Mirrors | Ruth Searle | 30 December, 2013 | 80 Comments Profile: Dr Ruth Searle is a marine biologist with a PhD in humpback whale ecology and behaviour in tropical marine environments. She is also a freelance writer and science nut.