Although mirrors have been around for thousands of years, a German chemist named Justus von Liebig made a breakthrough in 1835 that would make the modern manufacture of them possible. Add some sugar to ammoniated silver nitrate, pour it onto glass, and blammo: you’ve got yourself a mirror.
It’s slightly more complicated than that, if only because silver nitrate is highly poisonous. But artist Dave Smith makes it look easy in this recent Instagram post:
Here’s a clearer view of the finished product:
The process looks even cooler when Smith pours the liquid metal substance onto glue-chipped glass, producing beautiful patterns:
Science is cool! So is art!