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Chapter 6:
Mirrors That Get Bent Out of Shape
Deformable mirrors are fairy tale devices that can somehow move with magical pixie dust to change the wavefront of the beam of light that was all distorted by atmospheric turbulence whose name is the Big Bad Wolf. At least that’s the scientific explanation. For some people, especially those who are just learning about adaptive optics, the deformable mirror is just the coolest thing on the planet. Some call it a rubber mirror because it can bend somewhat like a rubber mirror would bend if by chance you could make a mirror out of rubber. Others call it an adaptive optic, thinking it is the optical gizmo that is actually doing all the adapting. But, as I explained in this book, adaptive optics is more than just the deformable mirror; it is all of this stuff. And I have vowed that, from this day forward, there will be a curse placed upon anyone who seriously contemplates calling a deformable mirror an adaptive optic. A deformable mirror is actually quite a simple concept, much like a house cat. They both lie around and do nothing until they are aroused by some external stimulus and then they move, often quite rapidly, from one end of their immediate world to another. Then, they go back to doing nothing.
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