Reflecting on a New Generation of Mirrors

Gallery - Reflecting on a new generation of mirrors - Image 1 - New Scientist Continuing on the theme of interesting optics, Andrew Hicks, a mathematician, has created mirrors that accomplish some amazing feats. Imagine looking at text in a mirror, and the text is not backwards. Imagine 360-degree panoramas without distortion. It's all pretty cool stuff.

All of the surfaces were designed with computers to reflect the light rays across the mirror surface before returning them to the viewer. With the right shapes, you can do some bizarre tricks with light. It's like Fun House mirrors without all the distortion. Some of the applications of this are in robotics and even automobiles.

I remember back when I was getting my masters, I built a 3D rendering engine for giggles (I wanted to understand the math). If you have ever built one of these you know it's all about calculating where light rays go and what color and brightness they end up with when they get there. In this case, you need to work backwards. Here is what I want. Now, what is the shape necessary to get there, and that's a whole different ball game. I wonder if the idea is to solve the same rendering equations in the other direction.