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Optics - Reflection of image from a moving mirror

  1. Mar 13, 2012 #1
    Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    I have a dufficult question which I couldn't find an answer to, yet:

    If I am standing in front of a mirror - I can see my image, naturally.

    Now, let's say that the mirror is actually a very long train and it moves parallel to me .

    And the question: will my image be reflected back to me in ALL speeds whatsoever or will it shift in the dircetion of the mirror-train in "very high speeds"?

    Thanks for your wise answers!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2012 #2
    Re: Optics

    Well, i guess reflected image from the moving mirror will suffer some amount of shift - it depends on the velocity of the train. Reflection of a e-m wave requires interaction with the mirror matter (i.e. electrons).
     
  4. Mar 13, 2012 #3
    Re: Optics

    Your post is not very clear. Are you on the train or watching the train speed by?

    If the mirror is at rest with respect to you (you are on the train, looking at a mirror), you will so no difference from if the train was at rest.
     
  5. Mar 13, 2012 #4
    Re: Optics

    Hi Chris.

    I am at rest and the mirror is speeding by. Will I recieve back the light that I have emitted?
     
  6. Mar 13, 2012 #5
    Re: Optics

    Yes. It's the induced change in the currents/fields in a material that give rise to reflections, not little balls bouncing off of atoms. So the change in current and therefore the reflection would be independent of the motion of the material's atoms.
     
  7. Mar 14, 2012 #6
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    ...and that includes very high (and theoratical) speeds as the speed of light or "very-near" of the speed of light?

    (thx).
     
  8. Mar 14, 2012 #7
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    Good question.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2012 #8
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    ...and I was hoping to get from you a good answer....?
     
  10. Mar 14, 2012 #9

    jtbell

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    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    This thread has now been moved from the Classical Physics forum to the Relativity forum based on the clarification in post #6.
     
  11. Mar 14, 2012 #10

    ghwellsjr

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    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    Your relative speed to the mirror will make no difference in the image that is reflected back to you.
     
  12. Mar 14, 2012 #11
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    ghwellsjr

    the visible light leaving you reaches the mirror, some event happens, light is "reflected" back to you. Now imagine the color of light that is leaving you is blue, just guessing here but I think the light returning to you would be red(or some other lesser wave). I picture it as "stretching" that same bit of wave (energy) across a greater distance, c being c, light is seen as a lesser wave length.

    Is that right?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  13. Mar 14, 2012 #12

    ghwellsjr

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    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    No, assuming a perfect mirror.
     
  14. Mar 14, 2012 #13
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    why is there no Doppler effect there? It's not the perfect mirror is it? (:smile:)

    EDIT: I just read what chrisbaird wrote in post #5.
    EDIT AGAIN: just read post #7. So my question still stands.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  15. Mar 14, 2012 #14
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    I think the answers are correct. If there was a blue light on the train it would be red shifted according to the track side observer due to relativistic Doppler shift. This shift is purely due to time dilation of the source. Oddly enough it seems that if the track side observer has a similar blue light he would not see any red shift in the reflected blue light while an observer on the train would see the track side light as red shifted.

    This seems slightly odd at first and it might help to think in terms of tennis balls which is slightly easier to visualise. Imagine a person on the train fires balls at the track side at a rate of once per second according to his own clock. They arrive at the track side at a rate of once every ten seconds because the train clock is running slower than the track clock according to the the track side observer. Now if the track side observer fires balls at the passing train at rate of once per second, there is no good reason why they should not bounce back at a rate of once per second and by similar reasoning there is no reason why the reflected light should be red shifted.

    <EDIT> However the reflected tennis balls would be deflected sideways by the passing train unlike the photons. It would be interesting to see if a paradox would be created if the reflected photons were deflected. Now that I think about it, I am not totally convinced reflected photons are not deflected and the best way to settle the issue would be to create a paradox for the false position.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  16. Mar 15, 2012 #15
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    Cool stuff, thanks yuiop. That example was clear. Maybe another way to word it is the observer is at rest with the light source (themself). I was thinking of the mirror as the light source once it is reflected.
     
  17. Mar 15, 2012 #16
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    Thanks for the answers so far, but i just want to make sure I understood corectly:

    I - As the mirror is moving sideways and in vertical to "me" it keeps a fixed distance from "me". Therfore, is the color shift still expected to happen?

    II - (I think...) I did not recieve an answer to my question (after Chris and the extension of my question to ultra high speeds) - will i receive my reflection back to where I am standing or will it shift sideways even by a fraction?

    II-a - I belive that the process of the obsortion of the light and the rebouncing of it must take some time, though almost neglible. So there must be a shift of some degree. If it is so, there is a shift of the image. True or not?

    Thanks for the answers.
     
  18. Mar 15, 2012 #17

    ghwellsjr

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    Repeating:
     
  19. Mar 15, 2012 #18
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    I have given this some more thought and now I am convinced there will be no deflection of the reflection and it will not shift sideways by even by a fraction at relativistic speeds. This is more obvious when you consider the reflected light path from the rest frame of the train with the mirror mounted on it. The light source at the side of the track is moving in this reference frame and the light from it is subject to relativistic aberration and so the light path is diagonal. In the reference frame the mirror is stationary and so the light beam is reflected perfectly normally at the same angle as the angle of incidence and returns to the moving light source. When you transform back to the reference frame of the light source it is obvious there is no deflection of the reflected light ray.

    IF reflection is a process of absorbtion and re-emission (not sure about that) and IF that process takes a finite non zero interval of time then there might be a small shift of the image at relativistic speeds. It would need someone familiar with the intricate details of the process of reflection (not me) or a very sensitive experiment to settle that. Off hand I cannot think of a thought experiment that would refute a delay in the reflection process.
     
  20. Mar 15, 2012 #19
    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    Hmmm, looks like there would be a doppler effect.


    The Doppler Effect from a Uniformly Moving Mirror (what do you make of the paper yuiop?)

    Very interestingly, the paper goes on to mention how Einstien discussed the moving mirror & the "special case" doppler in his 1905 paper.
    But that it is often excluded from texts.

    I'm gunna read into it some more.


    so at the same time
    ghwellsjr why is there no doppler shift?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  21. Mar 15, 2012 #20

    ghwellsjr

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    Re: Optics -- Reflection of image from a moving mirror

    The mirror in the paper is moving away from the source of light. Chaimc's mirror is moving parallel to himself, the source of the light.
     
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