We all have (or are) that one stoner friend—the lovable pal who habitually smokes an impressive amount of weed and often shares said weed with you, but only on the condition you listen to their misinformed theories on the latest quantum physics news they read on Google Digest.
It can be a bit much sometimes, which is why this new episode of The Action Lab, chemical engineer James J. Orgill’s ongoing “Science FTW!” YouTube series, does us all a solid by providing a novel distraction to silence your annoying stoner friends once and for all. Who under the influence can resist the identity-questioning lure of a mirror-encased room? So trippy, man!
Check out the video of its construction, along with some interesting factoids about light, mathematics, the nature of infinity itself.
There’s a lot of interesting info to process in Orgill’s video, assuming you didn’t need to pause it early and lay down from vertigo. Take mirrors’ reflective limits, for example: If you suddenly turned off the room’s light source, surely a delay would show up somewhere along the seemingly endless line of reflections (thus briefly offsetting the inevitable existential dread that comes from standing in a room of infinite darkness), right?
Nope. The speed of a camera’s light travels at, uh, the speed of light, or roughly 300,000 km/second. Since mirrors reflect a paltry 95% of light (step it up, mirrors!) one can only really see about 15-16 reflections in Orgill’s room, which is extremely far from the number necessary to begin seeing any kind of delay in light.
There’s also a brief explanation given on the mathematical phenomenon known as “Gabriel’s Horn” where an object’s volume is finite, but its surface area is infinite. Neat stuff, but, after Orgill filled the mirror room with smoke and laser pointers, all we can think about is returning to our Dark Side of the Moon-in-reverse listening session.
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