How tall does a mirror have to be to fit an entire persons body? Does distance from
the mirror play any type of role?
Asked by: Eric Anderson
You can best find this answer with a newspaper and roll
of tape on a full length mirror in your home. Cover all
the parts of the mirror you DON'T need to see your
reflection. You will see that you only need a mirror
length of about 1/2 your height.
This is due to the principle of reflection, which states
that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.
A light ray from your foot strikes the mirror like a
ball off a wall. Thus, by striking the mirror half way
between your foot and eye, the ray never interacts with
that part of the mirror below the half way mark. Since
that half way point doesn't change as you move away from
the mirror, the useful area of the mirror remains the
same, regardless your distance from it.
Another way of looking at this is to imagine your image
is another person standing on the other side of a window
and the same distance away from it. To see their feet,
the bottom of the window need not be to the floor but
only along a line connecting your eye with their feet.
A full length mirror need not be a doorway, only a window.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A. Physics, Part-time Physics Instructor
'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.'