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How we see things

Light travels in straight lines. When light hits an object, it is reflected (bounces off) and enters our eyes. This is how we see the object.

When light from an object is reflected by a surface, it changes direction. It bounces off the surface at the same angle as it hits it.

Smooth, shiny surfaces such as mirrors and polished metals reflect light well. Dull and dark surfaces such as dark fabrics do not reflect light well.

Reflective surfaces

Reflective surfaces can be very useful.

  • Mirrors inside cars reflect light to help drivers see objects behind them.
  • Reflective strips on clothing and bikes help cyclists to be extra visible at night.
  • 'Cat's eyes' on the road reflect light from car headlamps to help the driver see the road at night.

More from Light:

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