What would girls do without mirrors!!
Mirrors were not always made of glass. If we think about the primitive man, it was water in the ponds and streams which enabled him to see his reflection.
During the middle ages, polished surfaces of metals such as copper, bronze, gold and silver were commonly used as mirrors. These polished pieces of metal have been found in different parts of Europe. The polished surface helped to reflect light. These metals were heavy, so the original mirrors were very small. They found use only in decorations.
As early as the 13th century, Romans started to experiment with different metals to make a backing for glass so as to make a reflective surface. The metal backing needed to be thin and easy to adhere to glass. Gold and silver could be used but they were very expensive. They finally were able to make a backing which was an amalgam of tin and mercury. This could be easily worked into thin sheets and was highly reflective. In the early sixteenth century, Venice became a center of mirror production using this new technique.
The modern mirror is made by directly coating the glass surface with a thin layer of silver. This chemical process was discovered by Justus Von Liebig in 1835. When mirrors were first introduced to the isolated Biami people of Papua New Guinea in the 1970s, their initial reaction to their own reflection was that of terror rather than fascination!
Glass mirrors find many uses in the field of science like telescopes, projectors, cameras. They are also used in the automobile industry.