You can walk inside this dazzling display of colors and lights in Alexandria, Virginia. Called Mirror, Mirror, the public artwork pays tribute to the nearby Jones Point Lighthouse. The tall mirrors and colorful lights that make up Mirror, Mirror create intersecting rings like a Fresnel lens. These lenses were invented by 19th-century physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. They were used in lighthouses for years to amplify the light beams that guide mariners home.
“Lighthouses had Fresnel lenses made from glass rings held in place by brass frames,” says Nelson Claytor, a physicist and president of Fresnel Technologies in Fort Worth, Texas. More than 400 lighthouses across the country still use Fresnel lenses.