Mirror Image Messages

Why does one word turn upside down and the other word remain the same?

Carbon Dioxide Illusion

This illusion illustrates some of the fun you can have with mirror image messages.

There are two different types of mirror-image letters in our alphabet: top-to-bottom mirror-image letters like B, C, D, E, H, I, K, O, and X, which read the same when flipped along the horizontal axis, and left-to-right mirror-image letters like A, H, I, M, O, T, U, V, W, X, and Y, which read the same when flipped along the vertical axis.

Messages that you construct with the first list of letters will read the same in a mirror, if held on a face-up piece of paper, perpendicular to the mirror, with the top of the paper touching the glass.

Horizontal Mirror Image Message the words check code choice are reflected in a mirror

That is why the wine glass illusion above works: the glass flips both words, but the word DIOXIDE still reads the same.

Messages that you construct with the second list by writing words from top-to-bottom, will read the same in a mirror if the paper is held vertically with a side of the paper touching the glass (or simply facing a mirror).

Vertical Mirror Image Message

Or you can construct palindromes using only words from the second list, which will read the same when held horizontally, facing a mirror (except for punctuation and spaces).

Palindrome Mirror Image

Then there are the letters that read the same when rotated upside-down: H, I, N, O, S, X, and Z. If you construct a palindrome with these letters only, it will read the same when rotated.

Rotating Palindrome

At this point, we begin to enter the realm of ambigrams.

Leave a Comment (it will be moderated and won't appear immediately)

brain teasers, word games, paradoxes, situation puzzles, and optical illusions