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Math Mirrors

Add a little math to that mirror!

Math Mirrors

Article: At Drexel, he designs amazing mirrors

Mathematician Andrew Hicks was in his Drexel University office, puzzling over some problem he can no longer recall, when colleague Ron Perline walked in with a challenge.

Fresh from his morning bicycle ride from Germantown, Perline was unhappy with the rearview mirror mounted on his handlebars. Its tiny surface was curved, reflecting a wide-angle view of the road behind him, but the image was badly distorted.

Could math provide the path to better reflection? Perline asked.

Indeed it could. Eight years and numerous calculations later, Hicks is now testing a prototype mirror – for a car, not a bike – and he is in talks with a foreign manufacturer. As with the bike mirror, the rounded surface provides a wide field of view – so wide that it eliminates the dreaded, driver-side “blind spot” – yet the subtle mathematics of his design result in little or no distortion. Read more