Desert Flower on First Floor



Welcome to one of the crowning jewels of the Museum of Optics! Depending on the angle you first viewed it, however, it might have just looked like a funny-shaped piece of glass to you at first. Have you walked all the way around it yet? Once you look at it face-on, everything comes into focus. Now you understand that it’s not a funny piece of glass, but that a lot of math went into the shape of this piece. The main wedge of the desert flower is designed for total internal reflection or a process by which an internal reflection acts like a perfect mirror. The two sides acting as mirrors help to cascade the few cuts on the back of the glass to appear to be the full flower shape you see before your eyes. This total internal reflection process is very useful not just in art, but it also keeps light inside of the optical fibers that bring the internet to your home. Since the reflection off each surface is perfectly reflective, no energy is lost from the light bouncing through the fiber for the hundreds of miles it may need to travel. In the Desert flower though, it completes this beautiful piece through those many reflections. The desert flower was made by Christopher Reid and donated to the museum by Schott Glass.