Mirror Reflection: What makes this TikTok trend so cool? How does it work?

Mirror Reflection: What makes this TikTok trend so cool? How does it work?
TikTok's mirror reflection trend (darkpredictions/TikTok, Cam Casey/YouTube)

If you're looking to have some fun on TikTok, there's no shortage of cool trends to join in on. From viral dances and challenges to funny memes and hilarious comedy skits, there's something for everyone on this popular social media platform.

Some users on TikTok are baffled by a trend that has become popular and involves a mirror and a 'hidden' object - the reason is as simple as how mirrors function.


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What is the trend all about?

In the TikTok popular reflection trend, a user holds an object up to a mirror with a piece of paper underneath, so that the paper blocks the mirror's 'view' of the object.


After panning the camera to the side, the user is startled to see the hidden object suddenly appear in the mirror. After TikTok user Bailey Caviness first reported this and asked, "How does the mirror know that's there?" numerous other users posted their attempts and answers

While many have found that there is a simple explanation - the reflection of light - other people are still mystified.



How does the mirror trick work?

A mirror reflects only reflects incoming light. It does not see or know what is in front of it. It might seem that the paper in the TikTok trend example is blocking any light reflected from the smaller object from reaching the mirror, but this is not true.

This is due to the fact that there isn't just one beam of light hitting the mirror and objects at a 90 degree angle, but there are multiple beams of light hitting everything in their path. In a video response, Dr Sara Webb describes how at certain angles, some of the light reflected from the object still reaches the mirror just below the edge of the paper.


The mirror's flat, smooth surface allows the light to be reflected back at the exact angle from which it originally came. When the person filming the TikTok steps into the line of light reflected at that angle in that direction, they become aware of the object because they have changed their angle of view by moving to the side. Everything depends on the perspective.

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 Mirror Reflection: What makes this TikTok trend so cool? How does it work?