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i understand about reflection and how we see light but what confuses me is; all objects that can be seen reflect light (besides black obviously) and mirrors also reflect light. so why does one produce a regular image, while the latter produces a reflection? if it's because it's shiny, does that mean that any light that bounces off me onto a regular surface is absorbed or transmitted?

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To make a mirror the surface has to be very flat (for a plane mirror) or made to a specific curve and it is coated with a highly reflective material such as aluminum. That degree of smoothness is necessary for the rays of light that impinge on the mirror to combine in such as way as to form an image. A "regular" surface might be reflective but it does not have that high degree of smoothness. As a result, rays of light that impinge on it are scattered more or less randomly depending on the roughness of the surface. They therefore cannot combine to form an image.

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You can see your image in the mirror because ,first of all its polished and has very regular surface . And its silvered at the back. In any polished and regular surface you can see your image.if it is polished to that extent. You can see your image in still water. If you polish the steel then also you can see your image in that. So its not that mirror has special property.although its material properties allows us to use it as mirror. Added more to that obiusly transmittance and reflectance of the material has a role to play in that.

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Mirrors reflect light because of three reasons:

  1. They do not absorb light in the visible region
  2. Have no bumps on its surface
  3. Have free electrons that in effect bounce back incident light

If materials don’t have even one of the above property, we can’t use it as an effective mirror. For example a glass slide has properties 1 and 2 but not 3. Thus it is transparent. Most everyday materials absorb some visible light and have a bumpy surface. Thus laws of reflection aren’t obeyed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re. #1, technically speaking they are highly reflective but not 100% so. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 12:15

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