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I am just a high school student trying to self study, so please excuse me if this question sounds silly to you.

Many people tell me that virtual images are formed when two rays that are diverging appear to come from a point, therefore our brain thinks that it is coming from an object even though there is no object there.

However I think that a virtual image is formed because two diverging rays converge at a point when made to go through the crystalline lens in our eye to form a real image on our retina.I think that our brain has nothing to do with the formation of virtual images.

What is actually going on here?

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enter image description here

Just like the above image, your situation isn't any different. Some fraction of the outgoing diverging light goes through our eye lens and get converged to the back of the retina (for an healthy eye). Our brain doesn't believe light can be manipulated, so it will trace a light ray straight back to a point of coherence without considering any bend or twist ever happened. This is why even though a virtual image isn't exactly where the brain think it is, it just how our DNA programs our brain to resolve light, and we can't change that because DNA coding is inherent and fundamental.

Even though the light from an object having gone through the lens in our eye converges, the optical sensors in the retina converts the light into electric impulses, it's these impulses that are algorithmically reconstructed back into an image in the brain, and the brain has evolved to translate impulses in certain ways that doesn't magnify nor diminish the formed image, so we see things in the exact size and position they are in reality. You stop seeing things correctly when you put on weird glasses because the brain hasn't evolved the mechanism to translate light through your weird glasses. If you can make a newborn stick to the glass his whole life, the day he decides to take it off, the real view tends to appear warp too. It just down of the inherence of nature's java coding.

Bottom line, a virtual image is a result of the brain's interpretation of light as a straight non- manuvarable thing rather than otherwise.

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Our brain just gets signals from the retina. The visual cortex interprets these signals, I am guessing, using an image recognition and matching. If a match is found then the owner of cortex believes that that is the reality behind the original signals. All reality is virtual...

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  • $\begingroup$ Your comment "all reality is virtual" implies that each of us is on our own. This is not how in fact any human being develops. Our development is social and our brain learns because it is in a conversation with other people throughout our life. It is the elements that emerge as reliable and in common with others' perceptions that largely build our notion of what is real. It is this conversation which leads to objectivity. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Mar 10 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ That is not what I intended to say, although it reads like it. I assume that there is an objective reality or I would not be a physicist... However our representation of it is virtual. $\endgroup$ – my2cts Mar 10 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ We're in agreement. I'll leave the comment up in case anyone else is interested by it. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Mar 10 at 17:47
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Both of you are correct.

The diverging rays converge at the retina and we see an image.

The brain's role is to locate the source(point from which the rays appear). Since there is no real source, our brain just extrapolate the diverging rays an make them meet at point.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess you are talking about binocular vision.niw. $\endgroup$ – my2cts Mar 10 at 17:45

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