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RE: Mercury Mirrors

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Posted by Robert May on March 19, 2000 18:34:59 UTC

Mercury mirrors probably have been made by amateurs just to see if they really are good but for actual usage, I don`t know of any having been made. The first problem is that the mirror only looks straight up. The second problem is that they are difficult to dampen out - stories of watching a truck on a highway a distance away making the mirror distort abound. Last, but not least is the problem of dealing with the mercury in such a fashion as to not "poision" the individuals (which I consider to be going a bit overboard) doing the mirror.
What you do end up with is a lab curiousity that has no real practible application to an amateur. As an instruction aid to teaching the shape of a parabola it`s difficult to hold the shape for any length of time due to vibrations resonating in the mercury and thus distorting the shape.

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