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Physics Lab: Images formed by a plane mirror

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Physics Lab: Images formed by a plane mirror

Cherno Okafor

Mr. Ebrahimi


December 28th, 2012



Conclusion and Evaluation

After doing this plane mirror lab, I discovered that the image is always the same distance behind the mirror as the object is in front of the mirror. The object and image always line up along the same normal line and the image is always upright and the same size as the object. It is also located behind the mirror, as a virtual image. Based on the law of reflection, after the light strikes the mirror, it can be concluded that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection and can be measured from the normal to either the incident or reflected ray. Either way, the angle measurement remains the same. When the mirror is placed at eye level, one can see a virtual, upright, and virtual image of the same size as the object no matter what the position of the object is. In addition, the magnification of a plane mirror is always equal to one.

        For this lab, I used pins as my objects. Initially I started with placing the pin object at an angle of incidence of 10°, and then I measured the angle of reflection, which was the same.

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3f = 57 cm

40 cm




1/57 = 0.018

1/40 = 0.025

1/57 + 1/40 = 0.043


2.5f = 47.5 cm

40.5 cm




1/47.5= 0.021

1/40.5 = 0.025

1/47.5 +1/40.5 = 0.046


2f = 38 cm


Same Size



1/38 = 0.026

1/41.3 = 0.024

1/38 + 1/41.3 = 0.051


1.5f = 28.5

55.5 cm




1/28.5 = 0.035

1/55.5 = 0.018

1/28.5 + 1/55.5 = 0.053


f =19cm








Based on my data collection, in all the cases where the image type was real the image attitude was inverted, and when the image attitude was upright the image type was virtual (Beyond f). I also noticed a relation between di and do. That is, the shorter the do was, the longer the di was.  

I will now summarize the four laws of reflection for forming images by a converging mirror.

  1. Any ray travelling parallel to the principal axis will reflect through the principal focal point.
  2. Any ray travelling through the principal focal point will reflect parallel to the principal axis.
  3. Any ray travelling through 2F will reflect back along itself.
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        There is an evident relationship between the object distance and object size and the image distance and image size. Starting from a large value, as the object distance decreases (moves closer to the lens), the image distance increases; meanwhile, the image height increases. At the 2f point, the object distance equals the image distance and the object height equals the image height. As the object distance approaches one focal length, the image distance and image height approaches infinity. Finally, when the object distance is equal to exactly one focal length, there is no image. In addition, by altering the object distance to values less than one focal length, the object produces images that are upright, virtual, and located on the same side of the lens as the object. Finally, if the object distance approaches 0, the image distance approaches 0 and the image height ultimately becomes equal to the object height. These patterns are depicted in the diagrams.

Error Analysis:

One error that could occur during this lab is inaccurately measuring the Image Distance. This would result in incorrect observation results. Another error that could occur is not measuring the screen image’s image distance at a location that does not exactly focus the image. This would result in an incorrect reading for the distance of image.

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