Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kaleidoscope Fun

Reflections

From time to time, just for fun, I've made a number of kaleidoscopes and holoscopes, mostly from cut-and-stick auto replacement mirrors. These auto mirrors are less expensive than front-surface glass mirrors, and they can be cut with ordinary scissors rather than requiring glass cutting tools and expertise.

My kaleidoscopes are rather ugly when compared with exquisite models made by artistic experts. Mine have no exterior decoration and are held together with masking tape and duct tape. Nevertheless, they produce some nice complicated views. Four of my constructions are shown in the first picture below. From left to right they are: a tetrahedral holoscope, a narrow kaleidoscope with three mirrors, a cubical holoscope, and a three-mirror kaleidoscope which produces a spherical image.
First, consider the cubical holoscope. Five identical small square glass mirrors are taped together with an equal size auto replacement mirror closing the cube on top. Reflecting surfaces all face inward. As you can see in the next picture, I cut away the corners of the top mirror. Three of the missing corners are covered with different colors of transparent plastic. The remaining open corner in the upper left is a viewing hole.
Light entering the cube through the open corners undergoes multiple reflections producing repeated images. Looking through the viewing hole while shining light down on the cube from above produces the following scene.
If I gently press on the slightly flexible top, some lines of multiply reflected images bend.
The tetrahedral holoscope is a 4-sided tetrahedral volume whose sides are equilateral triangles. Each internal surface is a mirror. I cut holes in all four vertices, making the "top" vertex viewing hole the largest. I covered the remaining three holes with red, green, and blue transparent plastic respectively. The next two images are views into the tetrahedral holoscope when it is illuminated by an overhead light along with three additional separate lights pointed at the color-covered vertices.
It looks like the openings with colored plastic should have been bigger because all the colored reflections seem small.

The narrow triangular kaleidoscope produced surprisingly interesting patterns when illuminated from the viewing direction. The next four images were generated by looking at breakfast cereal boxes through the kaleidoscope. Different cereal boxes and slightly different camera tilts produced different patterns.
The last of the four kaleidoscopes produces an amazing spherical pattern. The three sides of the device are cut to specific angles to achieve this effect. The light source is from the same direction as the viewing direction.
Someday I hope to find a way to illuminate the kaleidoscopes from the bottom instead of from the top.

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People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon