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The Limits of Reflection
The Limits of Reflection
When two mirrors face each other they are said to be in parallel and reflect each other infinitely. That, at least, is what has always been the assumption. It is also what common sense would indicate. As far as we know, this assumption has never been questioned as it seems so obviously true.
Science, however, should never base anything on assumption. Science is all about proof. And, as far as my team and I could tell, this particular bit of folklore has never been investigated let alone proven to anyone’s satisfaction. It was in that spirit that a group of scientist colleagues and myself undertook to prove the validity of the parallel mirror theory. Thanks to a grant from Scientists Without Borders, we undertook a mission to investigate a number of unproven scientific assumptions.
A search of the scientific literature revealed only a single reference to parallel imaging. A single line in a 1674 treatise by Carlo Biscotti, an enlightened monk, who warned that the terminus of the “image trail” led to the devil. In his 17th century opus Optica Populii, Biscotti wrote: In fine iter imaginem diaboli. This jokingly became our motto as we dove into the puzzle.
The first question we asked ourselves was how deep has anyone actually looked? The naked eye can make out eight iterations. One or two of our more sharp eyed members can see ten iterations through a magnifying lens. Although, it is commonly agreed that the tenth image is far too small to see in any detail.
It became obvious from the start that we needed specialized tools to penetrate to a reasonable depth. The strongest binoculars and off the shelf optical scopes can take the viewer down to level 19, a two fold increase. Nineteen, however, is a long way from infinity. Even at level 19 small differences from the original image can be detected. These changes were small but measurable and consisted of differences in color saturation and small distortions in perspective. These differences were initially attributed to errors resulting from the small sample size and were not deemed significant.
We soon realized that if we were to probe deeper, we would need specialized, custom made equipment. Our engineering staff developed a hybrid device we dubbed the parallel-o-scope. An electro/-optical instrument that increased our depth of penetration by a factor of ten. We could now see down to level 150, a perviously unimaginable depth. At this level, alterations from the original image are quite apparent and disturbing. See fig. 3, pg.27. If one compares the original photograph of a cat (fig. 1, pg. 25) with the image at level 150, the changes are quite striking. The level 150 image does not resemble the original image in any way. Even compared to the much distorted image at level 19 (fig. 2, pg. 26), The image at level 150 is quite distorted and, if I may add, grotesque. It was obvious to our group that we had stumbled upon a previously unknown phenomena and needed to probe deeper.
Borrowing from electron microscopy, our engineers developed an electron parallel-o-scope that could peer down to the limit of reflection down to the molecular structure of the silver backing of the mirror itself. This took us to level 1,280, and appears to be the physical limit that optics will allow. Fully ten times the resolution of our previous effort. What we saw was both disturbing and frightening.
By level 600 there are profound deviations from the original image. The image at this level bears almost no resemblance to the original. By level 900 the image no longer resembles anything in our world. And by level 1,280, the current limit of our resolution, the image has begun to animate and appears aware of our presence. The mouth of the creatures in the image open as if in speech, the eyes blink. At times there are several of the creatures peering back at us as if through a window. This is a completely unexpected development and has forced us to debate whether to probe further. Several of our members have urged us to abandon the search. Three scientists have dropped out completely claiming that there is no room in scientific inquiry for the mystical. I do not agree.
As scientists, I feel that we are compelled to follow the truth no matter where it leads. Granted, this is a most curious development. It might be the greatest discovery in science in a century and threatens to upend physics as we know it. Understanding demands we continue. How can we ignore this opportunity? Turn away from the truth because it is frightening and strange?
Despite the dire warnings from the more religious among us, my team has soldiered on. We are in the process of developing a quantum parallel-o-scope which is expected to reveal resolutions down to level 2,200. At this level we will be able to examine in fine detail just what it is we are seeing. Is it a new life form? Another dimension? Perhaps a portal into another universe. No one knows for sure. The only thing we are certain of is that these images pose no danger to the general public. There is nothing in a mirror that can harm us.
micheledutcher - This is a fun idea. It's like the whole 'look in the mirror and say this girl's name 3 times - only in this story, they're doing everything they can to stir-up whatever might be lying deep within the 'portal'. Enjoyed the story much.
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