Pepper's Ghost Illusion Demonstration

By Sunny Hu

University of British Columbia

Department of Physics and Astronomy

PHYS 420 Demo


Holography was invented in 1948 by Dennis Gabor (1900–1979), who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work. Holography is a technique that generates a 3D image by reconstructing the light beams. The idea of the hologram is developed from a very similar technology that is used widely in theater demonstrations. This technique is called Pepper's Ghost Illusion which was first described in 1584 by Neapolitan scientist Giambattista della Porta and popularized by John Henry Pepper in the 1860s.

Technically speaking, Pepper's Ghost Illusion is not a true hologram since the hologram is created by interference of light but this illusion is only based on the reflection of light from the glass. However, Pepper's Ghost Illusion is often described as a hologram in a lot of online sources as a misconception. The technology of Pepper's Ghost Illusion is widely used in stages, animations, museum displays, etc. This demo uses Pepper's Ghost Illusion to build a pyramid-shaped “reflector” that can reflect the image from cell phone videos. This project aims to show students the physics application in pop cultures and other fields by connecting the concepts from Science 8 optics.


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