All That Glitters Is Not Gold

In developing one of the "Light Touch" articles a few months ago, my daughter and I were observing various optical effects while shining a flashlight around in a dark room. One of the most surprising to her was the way a shiny object looks. Whereas we could see the shape of the flashlight beam on the wall, we could only see glints on a shiny object such as a door knob: the rest of the door knob appeared dark. When I asked her what parts of the door knob were bright, she thought at first that it was the portions of the object that were closest. Then she realized it was the portions of the object that were facing us; she said that it acted like a mirror.

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