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Magnifying glasses make objects look larger because their outward curved (convex) lenses bend light rays so they come together. Basically, magnifying glasses trick your eyes into seeing something differently - larger - than it really is.

Normally, light rays bounce off objects and travel to your eyes along straight parallel lines. But when we use a magnifying glass, the convex lens bends the rays so that they come closer together and make a changed 'imaginary' image on the retinas inside your eyes. Even though the magnifying glass bends the light rays on the way to your eyes, your eyes track the light rays straight back to the 'imaginary image. This tricks your eyes and brain into thinking the image is further away and bigger) than it really is, due to principles of geometry (how shapes appear inspace).


1. Did you know your eyes can only focus up to about 6 inches in front of them? Moving anything closer makes it fuzzy and out of focus. If our eyes could focus on closer things, we wouldn't need magnifiers!

2. Here's a simple two-part rule for magnifiers: The higher the magnification, the smaller the lens must be. The smaller the lens, the closer it must be to the object you are viewing. This means a 10x magnifier will be quite small and has to be very close to the insect or gem or flower or whatever it is you are viewing to properly focus on it.

3. Your magnifier can also act as a kind of little projector. If you have a bright window you can make an image of what is outside by directing the image from your window through the lens to a close wall in a darker part of the room.

4. Yes, you can concentrate light through a magnifier to light a campfire, but the lens has to be huge! It must have enough surface area concentrating light for it to work. Reading glasses just aren't the right shape, or strong enough.


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