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PARIS: The Palace of Versailles



blog-0753736001427465296.jpgAlthough, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are classic Paris stops, the Palace of Versailles, is right outside of Paris; and for me, it's a must! It was on my list of the few amazing sights I really desired to see as we prepare for our trip. The history and beauty of it is breathtaking on Google Images...so I can't even imagine it in person.

Honestly, I could pick anything about Versailles and talk about the fzx of it! The gardens, the architecture, even some of the historical events relate! However, with the growing field and interest in optics, I think that the Hall of Mirrors hits closest to home.

In the 17th century, the Hall of Mirrors was referred to as The Grand Galerie, or in French, La Grand Galerie. It served as a daily passageway, waiting spot and meeting place, frequented by courtiers and the visiting public. The historic symbolism behind it, is that it stands as a demonstration of French economic prosperity. This is clearly represented through the three-hundred-fifty-seven mirrors that decorate the seventeen arches (ARCHES!!!) opposite the windows. This attested to France's new production of mirrors, a high-value and luxurious item at the time, capable of stealing the monopoly away from Venice.

Now onto the mirror physics! We have a lot to cover.

To discuss mirrors, I'll first go over light. The law of reflection states that when a ray of light hits a surface, it will bounce a certain way. Like a bouncy ball thrown against the pavement. the incoming angle (the angle of incidence) will ALWAYS equal the exiting angle as well (angle of reflection).

Light itself is invisible until bouncing off something and hitting our eyes. Like when it bounces off the lake and hits our eyes, it's bright! As we know. So there's a lake a few miles from my house, but let's take this to outer space...

In space, light also cannot be seen until it hits something and scatters itself. Then, the light is visible. The scattering process of light hitting a surface and then becoming bright and visible to human eyes is called diffuse reflection.

Mirrors are different.

Mirrors are spooky.

Mirrors have a smooth surface, and lights reflects off of it without disturbing the incoming image. This is named specular reflection. But...in this case...a reflection shouldn't reverse left and right...right? And it doesn't! Mirrors reverse front and back...like a printing press!

A few more facts...


The type of image produced by a flat mirror is called a virtual image. We see the light as coming in a straight line out of the mirror, when in actually our eyes are playing tricks on us! Light is actually just bouncing off of the mirror.


A virtual image cannot be focused. But some mirrors, concave mirrors, produce a real image. A real image CAN be projected onto a surface.

A fun fact...

Did you know that mirrors, somewhere, deep down, have a color?

Yeah. They do. Please trust me. Thanks.

Mirrors are green.

Usually in books or movies mirrors are depicted as being silver. And in theory they'd be ideally clear and would project a specular reflection and technically 'be' whatever color was projected onto it. Why? Because in a perfect world, a mirror would reflect all light equal to what it receives. But we do not live in a perfect world. Most of our mirrors reflect green light; and ergo, when looking in one: everything has a (spooky) green tint!

A theoretical phenomenon that will blow your mind...

Of course, if we want to look at some theoretical ideals, Jean-Pierre Luminet submitted a paper enititled, "A Cosmic Hall of Mirrors," to the Cornell University Library. September 21 of 2005 his paper examined conventional thinking comparing the infinite universe to a series of mirrors. What does that mean?

Well. Sit down and hold on to your socks, folks.

It's about to get freaky.

To summarize his thoughts, our universe could - in theory - be relatively small. But doesn't it go on forever? Or so maybe it just seems. Perhaps we are just given the ILLUSION of a larger universe, like a hall of mirrors. After all, recent astronomical studies add support to a finite space with a dodecahedral topology. Maybe the universe is just a tricky paradox; maybe it's like looking through a mirror, reflected in another mirror, reflected in another and another and another and so on for infinity! It's mind-boggling to consider. But it's certainly possible. But it makes your brain tired. So take it all with a salt of grain.

Moral of the story: we plan on making Versailles a full-day trip. There'll be a lot to do! In just this one hall there's an infinite amount to see!

So try not be too jealous, and wish me luck on my trip to Wonderland (France) and through the Looking Glass (Hall of Mirrors)!

I couldn't really figure out how to word that pun...so I reflected it as best I could.


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