How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 414

What is the difference between real images and virtual images?
A real image is a pattern of light in space that you can touch or put a piece of paper in. When you insert the paper in this light pattern, it appears just like the scene that created it, although it is typically flipped upside-down. A virtual image is an image that you cannot touch. As you look into the optic that creates this virtual image, you can see the image as though it were a pattern of light in space, but that pattern of light is located on the opposite side of the optic, where you cannot touch it. Subsequent optical devices (including the lens of your eye) can study this virtual image and form new images of it, but you can't put a piece of film in the virtual image itself.

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