Physics Question #9

Markovic Ljiljana, a 15 year old female from the Internet asks on April 30, 1999,

When and how was the kaleidoscope made?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on April 30, 1999

The word Kaleidoscope first appeared in the dictionary in 1817. Like others dubbed 'creative geniuses' before him, the Scottish scientist David Brewster stumbled upon this discovery through experimentation. By assembling prisms and other optical components, he created a tube-like instrument that contained loose pieces of glass and other objects that were reflected by mirrors and or lenses. These had been set at differing angles to create various symmetrical patterns when viewed through one end of the tube. The image created by the kaleidoscope is the result of combined object reflections in mirrors. The most common scopes have three mirrors with different angles between the mirrors. Other scopes have two mirrors, giving what is called a "mandala" (circular) image. Scopes may have any number of mirrors to create the interesting patterns. Adapted from an original article by Chris Chapman. More at the Brewster Society.

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