6A65.56 - Thick Lenses - Cylindrical Lenses

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Thick Lenses - Cylindrical Lenses
Thick Lenses
Area of Study:
Plastic Cylindrical Lenses, Titanium Oxide Sheet, and Choice Oxide Glass Lamp Sheet.

Place the cylindrical lens over the "titanium oxide" or "choice oxide glass lamp" words. As you raise the lens away from the sheet the non-symmetrical letters will invert top to bottom.

The large acrylic cylinders and the "One Eyed Jacks" from the deck of cards can be used together. The Jack will face the normal way when held against the acrylic rod but will about face 180 degrees when slowly moved away from the cylinder.

Note that when the Plexiglas cylinders are held horizontally over the words the inversion is top to bottom.  When the cylinder is held vertically over the words the inversion is side to side or left to right.  

  • Andrew Morrison, "Simple Demonstrations of Refraction Hide Some Deeper Physics", TPT, Vol. 60, #4, April 2022, p. 310.
  • Hakan Isik, "Vertical and Horizontal Inversions by Curved Surfaces", TPT, Vol. 51, #2, Feb. 2013, p. 117.
  • Martin Gardner, "Physics Trick of the Month - Reverse Jack's Profile",  TPT, Vol. 37, #5, May 1999, p. 318.
  • Samuel Hirschman, "Dispersion and Inversion", TPT, Vol. 7, #2, Feb. 1969, p. 116.
  • Ronald A. Brown, "A Choice Observation", TPT, Vol. 15, #3, Mar. 1977, p. 173.
  • Arnaldo Augusto Nora Antunes, "Location of Cardinal Points of Thick Lenses",  AJP, Vol. 33, #10, Oct. 1965, p. 852.
  • J. C. Hileman and William Ruebsamen, "Peculiar Properties of a Glass Rod",  AJP, Vol. 22, #5, May 1954, p. 343.
  • O-340:  "Inverted Image",  DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook.
  • Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the Staff of the Exploratorium, "What Happens When Light Shines Through a Soda Bottle?", Exploratopia, p. 288.
  • Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the Staff of the Exploratorium, "Soda-Bottle Antics", Exploratopia, p. 286.
  • Martin Gardner, "A Mirror Paradox", Science Tricks, p. 64.
  • Martin Gardner, "Swizzle - Stick Code", Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects, p. 72.
  • Martin Gardner, "1, Reverse Jack's Profile", Smart Science Tricks, p. 8.
  • Janice VanCleave, "37, Topsy-Turvy", Teaching the Fun of Physics, p. 61.
  • T. D. Rossing, C. J. Chiaverina, "# 3, Ambiagrams", Light Science, Physics and Visual Arts, p. 302.
  • Brian Jones and Matt Fackelman, "Cylindrical Lens", Don't Forget the Duct Tape, p. 29 - 32.
  • Borislaw Bilash II, “Flip Flop“, A Demo A Day – A Year of Physical Science Demonstrations, p. 313.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.