Strange Optical Phenomenon (mirror in shower)

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Neddy Bate, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    UPDATE:

    For anyone interested, I have proven to my own satisfaction that the effect is eye-specific. That is, the left eye is the only eye which sees the left eye with a "hovering pupil effect", and the right eye is the only eye which sees the right eye with a "hovering pupil effect". This can be established by holding up one hand and aligning one fingertip to cover one pupil in the reflected image. Even though both eyes remain open, and both eyes can be seen in the mirror, only one eye is seen to have the hovering pupil effect, like this:

    BEFORE:

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    AFTER:

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    The reason the fingertip does not appear to cover the pupil in the drawing is because this image is what the right eye sees. Due to parallax, the right eye does not see the fingertip covering the pupil, as it appears just slightly misaligned. But the left eye does see the fingertip covering the pupil, which makes the "hovering pupil effect" disappear.
     
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  3. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    TIPS FOR REPLICATING THE "HOVERING PUPILS EFFECT" YOURSELF:

    1. Make sure your mirror is very clean. Use window cleaner to make it as clean as possible. In order to replicate this effect in a different shower with a different mirror, I had to clean the mirror with window cleaner. Also...

    2. Your bathroom light is probably not situated in the right place, and probably not bright enough. In order to replicate the effect in a different shower, I had to use a very bright LED and hold it above and just behind my head. I used a portable outdoor motion activated LED like this one:

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    Move the light around until you can see the effect. Once you see it, you will be as curious as I am about what in the world could possibly be the explanation for this. I still can't figure it out.
     
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  5. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    I was just reading a thread on a different science forum where a different optical effect was described. It is a different effect where there are rings around the eyes in the mirror rather than black disks over the pupils, but both effects are probably related to each other.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...halos-around-eyes-in-a-foggy-bathroom.908472/

    In post # 24 of that thread, there is a link to yet another forum where someone took a photo, and the effect shows up at the camera rather than at the eyes:

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    https://www.unexplained-mysteries.c...yes-in-a-foggy-mirror/page/2/#comment-6133361

    She says that she sees the effect in her eyes, not at the camera. But the camera photographs the effect at the camera, not the eyes. Similarly, if the effect which I am describing in this thread can be photographed, then I would expect it to show up in the photo at the camera lens, but not the eyes.

    Furthermore, post # 26 at the top of that page describes exactly the same effect that I describe in this thread, which means that person has witnessed the exact same effect that I witnessed. They wrote, "If I stand in the shower and look at my eyes in a shaving mirror which is hanging behind the shower stream, I can see a dark spot (like an after-image) over one of pupils in the mirror. However, this dark spot seems to hover in front of the jets of water. In other words, even though the bright water droplets obscure the image of my eye, I still see the dark spot corresponding to the pupil."
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
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  7. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    i think your mind is super imposing your own pupils onto your minds image
    the balance point for your mind to do that is a certain optical light level
    the brain tends to jump from one image to another rather than blend(so ive noticed with my own visual phenomena)
     
  8. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    I understand that the brain is involved in the case of optical illusions. However, these are real optical phenomena, not optical illusions.

    Apparently a retired science teacher wrote a paper explaining the "halos-around-the-eyes" effect here:
    http://www.attebregge.co.uk/misty.html

    I would like a similar explanation for the "hovering-pupil-effect" as it really baffles me. They both appear to be observer-specific effects which have something to do with having a view that is exactly orthogonal to the mirror. That is, you must be looking at your own pupil in the mirror, not someone else's. It is even specifically each eye that sees its own specific hovering-pupil, as I explain in post #21 above. I can make the hovering pupil disappear on one eye by strategically placing a finger in the line of sight.
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Its a pity I can't be very useful in replicating the phenom. I wouldn't be able to see much without my glasses and that would certainly pollute the experiment.
     
  10. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    I would think that you could wear your glasses while testing it. The mirror is behind the shower stream, and your eyes are in front of the shower stream, so your glasses don't even have to get wet. However, you would still be seeing your pupils as they appear through the lenses of your glasses, just the same as you always see in the mirror while wearing glasses. So that might affect something.

    I will be able to test my reading glasses this weekend, when I will have access to the shower where I see this effect regularly. Then I will post here again to describe the difference between wearing glasses and not wearing them. They are reading glasses though, not prescription.
     
  11. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    You mention in your first post that your shower has a light in the ceiling. My bathroom shower doesn't have this (track lighting in the bathroom ceiling and above the sink, but not in the shower ceiling), so I'm wondering if the result would be different for me.
     
  12. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, the lighting is important in trying to replicate the effect. As you noted, the LED light is located in the ceiling of shower stall itself. When I tried to replicate the effect in a different shower with totally different lighting, it did not work until I brought in another (waterproof) LED light which I was able to position in a similar place as the original arrangement, slightly behind the head. So the effect can be replicated, but with a bit of effort.
     
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Except they'll certainly fog up.
     
  14. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    The hovering pupil effect does not require the mirror to be fogged by steam, so you should be able to run the shower on cold water. It is just the water droplets of the shower stream being in between your eyes and your reflection that causes the appearance of hovering pupils. The effect is immediately apparent if the lighting conditions are right, so there is no need to wait for anything to be fogged up by steam.

    The links I posted yesterday pertain to a different effect that does require the mirror to be fogged up. That is a different effect in which halos appear around the eyes, as opposed to hovering pupils. But I think the two phenomena are probably related. At least they are both observer-specific effects pertaining to each eye individually.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
  15. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    Test results are in from the shower where I can easily see this effect. I put on some reading glasses, set the shower on cold, and the effect was still readily detectable.

    As always, the hovering pupils appear as black disks that seem to be floating in front of the shower stream, even though the reflection of the pupils should be behind the shower stream.
     
  16. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    I tested this in a different bathroom, where there is no light in the shower stall, but there is lighting above the sink as you described. I had to pivot around in the shower so that my back was generally toward the lights, while holding the mirror on the opposite side of the shower stream. The effect can be replicated successfully by moving the mirror and yourself around until the angle to the light is just right. You want the lighting generally to be behind you, but not so much that it is visible in the mirror, because that much backlighting makes your reflection more of a silhouette, which is not the right angle. You want to get the light source out of the mirror's reflection while keeping it behind you.

    Of course you must also make sure the shower stream appears in front of your eyes in your reflection. Hold the mirror at a busier part of the shower stream if you need to. Look for strange hovering black pupils. It is quite the sight to behold!
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2022
  17. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I’d like to try this experiment, but how are you holding your phone to get just the right angle (perfectly centered?) so you can see this effect?
     
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I tried again last night. No joy.

    Hrm. I still say form that angle you pupils are blacker than any possible physical surface can be. Unlike your skin sclera or iris, your pupils will reflect zero light.
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    It does not work with your phone.
     
  20. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Lol wow, for some reason, I thought he was taking pics of this in the shower, as well.

    Well, then I’ll try this tomorrow and see what happens.
     
  21. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    Wow, we were all typing at the same time I guess! I hope you both can see my posts #32 and #33 addressed to each of you.
     
  22. Neddy Bate Valued Senior Member

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    There is a shower stream in front of the mirror, and it appears that there is zero light coming from it, but only where the pupils are located. The pupils reflection is in the mirror which is behind the shower stream, so the question is, how do the black pupil images jump forward to appear to be in front of the water stream, blocking it, and making it look black?
     
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Two different phenom. One works with a camera; one does not.

    OK, but you have to take pics - otherwise we won't believe you.

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