Why do mirrors reverse right and left but not up and down?

[I apologize to those of you who have been reading my blog for more than a year. I’m reposting something I wrote last year at this time. I was then, and am now, teaching Calculus III, and we just finished discussing the cross product. I ended the conversation by telling my classes how the cross…

Three applets for linear algebra or multivariable calculus

This semester I’m teaching two sections of Calculus III (multivariable calculus) and I happen to be teaching the first four weeks of Linear Algebra. The first couple weeks of both courses cover properties of vectors in Rn. (Of course, just to confuse the instructor and the students who happen to be in both classes, the…

Why do mirrors reverse right and left but not up and down?

Stand in front of a mirror and hold up your right hand. The person standing in the mirror holds up her left hand. Why is that? Why does a mirror reverse left and right? After all, it does not reverse up and down. Before we answer that question, we have to ask a more basic…