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Anthony Jauneaud via Flickr// CC BY-NC 2.0

The Color of a Mirror Is Not What You'd Expect

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Anthony Jauneaud via Flickr// CC BY-NC 2.0

What color is a mirror? It sounds like one of those deep, paradoxical questions a Buddhist monk might ponder on top of a mountain, but the answer is actually surprisingly straightforward: it's a faint shade of light green. 

At least that’s the case with most mirrors you probably encounter on a regular basis. The majority of household mirrors are constructed using a soda-lime silica glass substrate and a silver backing. This combination is what gives mirrors their greenish hue, though you wouldn’t know it just by staring at your own reflection.

The shade becomes noticeable when two mirrors are placed in front of each other, creating the seemingly infinite number of reflections known as a mirror tunnel. In their 2004 paper, researchers Raymond L. Lee, Jr. and Javier Hernández-Andrés talk about paying a visit to the Science Museum in Grenada, Spain to measure images generated by the mirror tunnel there. They discovered that the mirrors best reflected light at wavelengths between 495 and 570 nanometers, which is what the human eye perceives to be green.

As light bounces back and forth from one mirror to the next, the mirror’s reflective capabilities gradually weaken. If someone is looking at the reflection produced in a mirror tunnel, the light waves have already been reflected several times over before reaching their eyes, thus making the greenish color of the mirror’s material more prominent. 

If you answered “white” to the question, “what color is a mirror?” that wouldn’t necessarily be wrong either. White is the color that reflects all the visible wavelengths that make up the color spectrum. The reason that you can’t see your reflection in a sheet of paper is because white objects scatter light in all different directions, while mirrors reflect light back in the same direction they came from. “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait describes mirrors as a “smart kind of white.” Now that this mystery has been solved, it's time to shift focus to bigger questions like, “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?” and “why do cats purr?"

[h/t: io9]

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iStock
8 Interview Questions You Might Not Know Are Illegal
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iStock

Hiring managers have their companies' best interests at heart. Of course they want to know if you'll be a good fit, but they also want to know if you're likely to leave to start a family or retire in the near future. But asking anything intended to get information about a person's status in a protected class—age, race, religion, pregnancy, etc.—is technically illegal. Still, Peter K. Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers, says that often both interviewers and interviewees don't realize that a certain line of inquiry has veered into murky territory. To help defend job seekers against revealing information that could be used against them, here are eight questions that you should always avoid answering.

1. Are You Married?

Anything that fishes for information about a candidate's family plans (marriage, engagement, and child planning) is technically illegal because it falls under pregnancy discrimination. It can often seem like a hiring manager is just making pleasant conversation and trying to get to know you better, but job applicants are not obligated to disclose any personal information. This could also be a subtle way to question someone about their sexual orientation—another protected class.

2. How Old Are You?

Lots of applications will stipulate that employees have to be over 18, and that's fine—ensuring their workers are not minors is within a company's rights. But this question becomes problematic when interviewers ask more mature candidates that question, because it's illegal to discriminate against anyone over 40 on the basis of age. If anyone asks, don't feel bad about declining to respond. Recognize that whoever is interviewing you probably already has some sense of your age just from looking at your resume, and use the opportunity to emphasize all those years of experience. 

3. When Did You Graduate?

We all know how math works—this is just a not-so-sly way to calculate someone's age. (Feel free to nix the graduation year from your resume, too.) "If the interviewer presses for a reply, you might give him the date and then ask how that applies to your candidacy," Studner says. "And in the final analysis, would you really want to work for a company where the management discriminates against age? It might be better to move on."

4. How's Your Health?

If it's a physically demanding job, employers have a right to ask about specific physical abilities. For example: "This job requires lifting packages up to 30 pounds, or standing on your feet for six hours a day, or talking on the phone at least 80 percent of the time. Is this something you can do on a continuous basis?" But anything that isn't directly related to tasks you'll be performing on the job is personal information that you don't have to—and shouldn't—reveal.

5. What Religion Are You? Do You Observe Any Religious Holidays?

It's illegal to discuss your religion in an interview, even if it will affect your need to take time off. It can be awkward to back out of this question if an employer presses the issue, so Studner suggests a polite but firm, "I prefer not to discuss my religion, but I can assure you that it will not interfere with my doing this job."

6. Have You Ever Been Arrested?

It's not illegal to ask if you've ever been convicted of a crime, and many employers do, either on the application or in the interview. But what they can't ask about is your arrest record. That said, it is not illegal for a concerned hiring manager to do some independent research to see if there are any records of arrests available online. If you know they'll be looking into your background, this constitutes a rare instance where an interviewee should volunteer incriminating information.

"In these kinds of cases where a future employer might uncover prior arrests, it is important to discuss the incident up front and point out that it was a thing of the past, never to be repeated," Studner says. "The more serious the offense, the more convincing you have to be."

7. What Country Are You From?

As long as you're authorized to work in the country where the job is located—a question they are allowed to ask—employers can't dig into where you're from because nationality discrimination is illegal. Similarly, they can't ask if English is your first language.

8. Do You Like To Drink Socially?

It's not entirely clear why this would come up in an interview situation, but if it does, it's actually illegal in order to protect people who might answer "No." Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, recovering alcoholics don't have to reveal any information that might hint at their status. It's also illegal to question job applicants about when they last used illegal drugs, although asking if you're currently using illegal drugs is permissible.

All images courtesy of iStock

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Daniella Hovsepian
10 Questions for Adam David Thompson
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Daniella Hovsepian

You might recognize Adam David Thompson from his role as Albert, the creepy, lurking serial killer in Liam Neeson’s latest kicking-ass-and-taking-names flick, A Walk Among the Tombstones. It’s the kind of role the actor often finds himself playing. “I typically play these weird, bad kind of guys,” he says. “If I thought about why that is, I’d have a complex. It could be my height in relation to my body weight, maybe, or the awkwardly low voice, or how creepy I look with a goatee? But typecast is still cast, so I’m not really concerned about it.”

Thompson—who is actually very nice and not at all creepy in real life—was born and raised in Florida, where his family has lived for generations (they own an orange grove, and Thompson’s grandmother modeled oranges in trade magazines). He moved to New York City after he graduated from Florida State University in 2006, and he’s still getting used to some aspects of the city—namely, the weather. “The thing I’m most afraid of, being a Floridian, is winter,” he says. “I’m not good at winter yet, anyway.” We sat down with the actor—who's currently filming the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle alongside Gael García Bernal and Bernadette Peters—to find out what it’s like to fight with Liam Neeson, why Key West is awesome, and the one person he’s dying to have a crazy night out with.

Liam Neeson is such a badass. What was it like working with him?
I have two scenes with Liam, one of which is an all-out brawl. He’s one of the best actors of our time and he’s one of those guys who’s always present and with it. But on top of that, he’s a very light, jovial human being, making jokes when we needed it.

At one point, David Harbour [who plays the other serial killer, Ray] and I have these earpieces in for a scene so we can hear Liam’s phone conversation. David and I are the only ones who can hear Liam, and he’s out in a car outside. For awhile I just heard him breathing while we were getting ready, and then I heard somebody open the door and say, “Liam, do you need any water?” “No, I’m OK,” and then the door shut and I just heard breathing again. Then one of the production assistants asked if I needed a water—so then, Liam can hear our conversation, and he realizes that I can hear him. So he’s like, “Tell her no, tell her you don’t need any water.” So I’m cracking up, because no one can hear it but David and I! So the director comes over and Liam’s like, “Tell him you know what you’re doing!” I’m laughing, and everyone thinks I’m crazy.

So he’s just a really great guy, and when we were fighting, after cut was called, the first thing Liam would do would be to help me up, or ask me if I was OK.

Is it weird to watch yourself on screen?
Absolutely. I’ve seen it three times—once at Universal, and then at the screening, and then a bunch of my friends were going. And I was like, “I’m not going to go.” There’s only so much I can watch of myself before I start going, “Oh, why did I do that?”

We were shooting Tombstones for 14 weeks or something, and my character barely speaks, but he’s almost always there. When I went to see it with a real audience, being on set as much as I was, knowing every nook and cranny of it, I was going, “OK, is that moment scary?” Because I know it’s coming. So seeing the movie with an audience, there are moments at the end where people are talking to the screen. That was really cool, so I’m glad I saw it with an audience. You can’t really replicate that.

From looking at your IMDB page, it seems like you’ve done a wild range of films. What’s one genre you haven’t hit yet that you’re dying to do?
I want to do a nasty, chewing tobacco, six-shootin’ Western really badly. It’s just cool! Those movies are so iconic, and I just love the characters that are mainstays: the town drunk, and the sheriff that’s really stand up but he’s got a flaw. And the music, the camera movements, the long rides over the plains. It’s just something I really want to do. And plus, I’m tall and gangly. It’s such a good fit!

Florida is home to many colorful characters. Who’s your favorite Floridian?
Oh, this is a tough one. Is Pitbull from Miami? [laughs] Does it have to be someone famous? My great grandmother, Lois, was this really cool woman. My great grandfather was a fur trader, and after he died, she said OK, I can do that. She took the truck downtown and got what she needed and started doing it herself. She was a golfer. She started smoking when she was 80, because why not? She had what she called her snort everyday, which was Coca Cola and ... something. She would make me one, too, sans the something. [laughs] I knew her until I was 13, and I feel very lucky. She’s one of my idols in life because she was such a cool lady. I wish everybody could have met her.

What’s one place in Florida everyone should visit?
Key West is probably the greatest place on Earth. You have to go during the off times because that’s when the locals are there. They’re such happy people, because what do they have to be sad about? They live next to where Hemingway lived with all of his six-toed cats. If you ever get a chance to do that tour, and hear all the Papa Hemingway stories about how he and his wife were just fighting constantly there, and how she built the pool while he was away—it was one of the first salt water pools. He went down there and threw a penny in the wet cement and it’s still there! The bottom of the fountain is one of the urinals from a bar down the street. He said "I put enough money down this thing, I might as well own it!"

Now comes the part of the interview where I ask you a few kooky questions. So: You have to go into witness protection. What’s your new identity?
I would like to be the guy in the community who’s obviously made money somehow. He’s young and he’s retired, and all he does is water the lawn a lot. And have that kind of go around the community—”I heard he was in a dot com!”—and just mow the grass and water the lawn and grill out.

Who’s one person, living or dead, that you would love to have a conversation with?
If I were to not just have a conversation, but take that one more and have the biggest blowout night in the history of the world, I would say Johnny Cash. I feel like that would be one of those nights you’d remember forever. It would be really cool to pick Johnny Cash’s brain. There’s a million lifetimes in that man’s voice, and I would love to sit and listen to him talk.

If you have to be somebody’s body part, which part would it be, and on whose body?
I would be McCartney’s ears. To have heard what he heard in his day … and not just of the Beatles, but when they were hanging with Dylan. And: Do you want to start a band called McCartney’s Ears with me?

Yes! Do you play an instrument?
Well [laughs], I was in the marching band in Florida. I also fainted in the marching band, because for some reason, some genius decided to put us in wool marching uniforms. I played trumpet until I got braces. And then I played the baritone, and I played the bass guitar for a while. I did shoot a movie where they put me through drum lessons for a month. That’s one of the cool things about what we do—you get to learn new things all the time. Like on Tombstones, it was learning all of these cool stunts.

What’s the last book you read?
Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter. It’s about these three guys who escaped from prison and this very flawed, jaded police office who’s trying to find them and he almost gets killed by them a couple of times. They're very smart criminals. Scott Frank, who wrote and directed Tombstones, also wrote the screenplays for Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Minority Report, so I trust his judgment when it comes to books—Tombstones was based on a book, and he specializes in creating amazing films from these amazing books. His son and I have become very good friends. He was telling me that my dad was telling me about this book, and the guys who created Game of Thrones are going to make this book into a film.

I blew through it and then, when I was down to the last three chapters, I didn’t want to finish it! So I milked it for awhile, but I just finished that and emailed Scott to say “What do I read next?”

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