Category Archives: Optical Illusion

The Vanishing

By Quirkology via YouTube

DEBUNKED: Floating China City

Debunked: Floating City Above China | Metabunk

Have you seen the YouTube video of the impossibly large city floating above the fog in the city of Foshan, Guangdong province, China?

Floating City China

As with most phenomenon there is a very logical explanation and the good people over at MetaBunk.org have the explanation.

Click on over to Metabunk to find out how this illusion was achieved!:)

Mason I. Bilderberg

DEBUNKED: Amazing Water Trick

I love illusions and i love the secrets behind the illusions. Enjoy:)

(To skip some fluff: At 1:15 in the video you can skip forward to 4:20 in the video.)

Help make more videos like this and see behind-the-scenes extras: patreon.com/CaptainDisillusion

As Captain Disillusion attempts to deconstruct a classic viral video by Dan DeEntremont, he is visited by… an old flame.

How Do Optical Illusions Work?

By Inside Science via YouTube

For more information, please visit http://www.insidescience.org/content/…

10 Amazing bets you will always win

By Quirkology via YouTube

The Moon Terminator Illusion

Yup, i’m geeking out over here. Check out this video:)

by Vsauce via YouTube

For more information, go to the video description.

What Colour Is This Dress? (SOLVED with SCIENCE)

By AsapSCIENCE via YouTube


By BuzzFeedBlue via YouTube

The Incredible Candles

Richard Wiseman comes through with another great illusion.:)

By Quirkology via YouTube

10 Secrets Behind Harry Houdini’s Greatest Illusions

By Steve Wynalda via Listverse

houdini 1140There is an unwritten rule among magicians never to reveal how a trick is done. So when a 2004 exhibition explained Harry Houdini’s illusions, magicians around the world were apoplectic. David Copperfield called it a breach of magic protocol, and performers declared that they would boycott the exhibition. Many claimed to still use Houdini’s tricks themselves.

But Harry has been dead nearly 90 years. Despite their claims, few modern illusionists use his dated techniques. And the great magician’s secrets had been revealed decades earlier. He had been in his grave just three years when his team began spilling the beans.

This list is for those who want to know Houdini’s secrets. Those who don’t want to know should stop reading now.

10 • The Radio Of 1950

Houdini developed the “Radio of 1950” illusion for his evening shows from 1925 until his death the following year. The radio was a novelty at the time, and the act featured what Houdini said the radio would be like in 1950.

According to Dorothy Young, Houdini’s assistant, the great magician began by introducing a large table with a tablecloth that fell halfway down the table’s legs. Houdini walked around the table, lifting the tablecloth to show that there were no mirrors or anything else under the table.

Then assistants placed on the table a giant radio approximately 2 meters (6 ft) long and 1 meter (3 ft) high and wide. The front of the radio had huge dials and double doors. Houdini opened the doors to show that there was nothing inside except coils, transformers, and vacuum tubes. He closed the doors.

Houdini adjusted one of the dials until a radio station tuned in. The radio announcer said, “And now, Dorothy Young, doing the Charleston.” The top of the radio flew off, and out popped a young assistant, who jumped down and danced the Charleston.

“Tune in to any station and get the girl you want,” Houdini said. “No, gentlemen, it is not for sale.”

The Secret:

The key to the illusion was the table. Called a “bellows” table, it had two table tops. The upper top had a trap door that opened upward. The lower top hung from the upper by springs that dropped under Ms. Young’s weight without going below the skirt of the tablecloth.

Young was inside the radio when it was set on the table. She then opened the trap and slid into the bellowed area between two table tops and waited there as Houdini showed the radio’s empty interior. While the master magician dialed the radio station, she simply climbed back into the radio.

The image above is of Houdini’s younger brother, Theodore “Dash” Hardeen, demonstrating Houdini’s radio with assistant Gladys Hardeen. Hardeen purchased the radio from his brother’s estate. Dorothy Young lived to be 103 and died in 2011.

9 • Metamorphosis

Houdini performed the “Radio of 1950” illusion at the end of his career (and life), but he performed the “Metamorphosis” illusion at the beginning of his career, when he and his wife Bessie took their act on the road in 1894. Houdini didn’t invent the illusion, but earlier versions of the acts had featured two men changing places. Houdini exchanged places with his wife. His version became a sensation, catching the attention of the Welsh Brothers Circus. In 1895, the circus took the Houdinis on tour.

The illusion was fairly complicated. Houdini’s hands were bound behind him, and he was placed in a sack that was knotted closed. The sack was placed inside a box, locked, and strapped closed. The box was placed in a cabinet with a curtain.

Bessie stepped into the cabinet and drew the curtain closed. She then clapped three times. On the third clap, Houdini drew back the curtain, and Bessie was gone. She was found in the sack in the box, with all the locks and straps still in place and her hands bound behind her.

The Secret:

The secret of the illusion is surprisingly simple: practice. First, Houdini was an expert on ropes and knots, and his hands were tied by a knot easily slipped. By the time the sack was pulled over his head, his hands were free. The sack had eyelets around the top edge that allowed the rope to feed inside and outside the bag. Houdini simply pulled on the rope from the inside to loosen it.

After Houdini was placed in the box, he wiggled out of the sack while Bessie locked and strapped the box lid. Once Bessie drew the curtain closed, Houdini slipped out through a rear panel in the box. Contrary to the audience’s assumptions, Houdini clapped, not Bessie. He clapped once then helped Bessie climb into the box through the rear panel (without disturbing the locks or straps).

On the third clap, Houdini opened the curtain. While he unlocked and unstrapped the box, Bessie, inside, wiggled into the sack and slipped the ropes around her wrists. Harry and Bessie practiced so thoroughly that Houdini was out and Bessie in his place in just three seconds.

8 • The Hanging Straitjacket Escape

This act was born out of sibling rivalry. Houdini’s younger brother Hardeen had his own show, and both brothers were performing escapes from straitjackets behind screens. When one audience demanded that Hardeen escape in front of them, he obliged and received a standing ovation. When Hardeen told his older brother, Houdini decided he had to outdo his brother and developed the Hanging Straitjacket Escape. He frequently performed the act a few hours before his evening shows to draw a bigger audience.

Houdini usually performed this out on the street above a large crowd. He was strapped into a straitjacket in front of the crowd, his ankles bound. A crane lifted him up so that the audience could see what he did, enforcing the impression that there was no trick to the feat.

The Secret:

Houdini himself revealed how he escaped from straitjackets in his 1910 book Handcuff Escapes. The key was acquiring slack inside the jacket as it was strapped on.

As the jacket slid onto his arms, Houdini made sure his arms were crossed—not folded—across his chest, his stronger right arm on top. As the jacket was brought around the back, Houdini pinched and pulled outward to loosen material around his chest. As the jacket was cinched and tightened, Houdini held on to this slacked material. As the jacket was buckled in the back, Houdini took a huge breath to expand his chest. Once the jacket was in place, Houdini had a fair amount of wiggle room in front.

Once in the air, upside down, Houdini used his strong arm to violently force his weak (left) elbow to the left and away from the body. This forced the slack around the right shoulder, allowing Houdini to pull the right arm over his head. Being upside down actually helped: He used gravity to pull that arm over his head.

“Once having freed your arms to such an extent as to get them in front of your body,” Houdini wrote, “you can now undo the buckles and the straps of the cuffs with your teeth.” Once the cuffs were freed, Houdini unbuckled the neck, top, and bottom buckles. Once they were undone, Houdini slipped his arms free and wiggled out of the jacket. Despite popular belief, dislocating the shoulder was not usually necessary, and Houdini only did it as a last resort.

Houdini became so adept at this trick that he reduced his escape time from half an hour down to three minutes. For those occasions when a specialized straitjacket was strapped on, Houdini was not above palming a tool to cut the straps and buckles.

MORE – – –

The Escherian Stairwell

Originally posted May 25, 2013:

Does the Escherian stairwell really exist?

Source: The Escherian Stairwell (Original video) (YouTube)

Also see:

How The Ames Room Illusion Works

Did somebody say optical illusion? This is a classic illusion explained.:)

By Scientific American via YouTube

In 1934, ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. devised a room that pushes the boundaries of human perception. Visit a virtual version of the now famous Ames room, as Scientific American Mind editor Ingrid Wickelgren explains how it works.

Brain Game: Motion-induced blindness

If you know me you know i like a good illusion. Exposing flaws in the brain is fun!

Here is a good one from Mighty Optical Illusions

Keep staring at the flashing green dot, and the yellow dots will fade or disappear due to motion-induced blindness.

motion-induced blindness

Related:

The Magical Match

This is a pretty cool trick from Richard Wiseman via YouTube

Moving Illusions

As many of you know, i LOVE optical illusions. Not just because of their visual impact, but also because of the insights it can give us into the workings of our brain, another favorite topic of mine.

This is one of my favorite YouTube channels because they always post something interesting.

Check it out.:)

MIB


Via ▶ Moving Illusions – YouTube

Zach King’s ‘Magic’ Vine Compilation

Nothing conspiratorial in this post . . . just pure fun! Enjoy:)

Via FarlyTeem – YouTube

The Shining Optical Illusion

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

I just found an optical illusion that actually threw me off a little bit. I stared  at this image, wondering what the optical illusion was and I came close to closing out of it and dragging it to the recycle bin, but I decided to post it. I was a bit shocked when I realized what happened. Stop reading this text right now, scroll down and patiently watch this optical illusion and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. No cheating, go look right now!

The-Shining-Optical-Illusion

Now, this is a pretty cool picture and it’s taken from a movie that I really enjoy: The Shining. You see, I’m a pretty big fan of horror movies and this is definitely a creepy movie. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you’ll know that this is a classic one. Even though I liked this image, I didn’t know if it would work well on the site, but then I remembered that this is actually an optical illusion. You see, these are called cinemagraph optical illusions. If you like this image, you should use it on a message board or anywhere you’re active online. It will definitely catch people off-guard and they will love it.
[END]

Pareidolia controls your brain!!!!

Introduction by Mason i. Bilderberg (MIB)

How many times have you heard a paranormal investigator claim to see faces and images of the deceased in everything from a cinnabon swirl to a waft of smoke rising from a candle? Are they seeing the deceased? No. What they’re experiencing is a nearly uncontrollable urge by our brains to seek out and identify patterns. Especially human faces. This phenomenon has a name . . . Pareidolia:

Pareidolia

«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia

«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.

«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary

pareidolia 727_250px

How powerless are we to our own brains? Look at the image to the right and try to NOT see a very happy thermostat. Bet you can’t!!!

See? Our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.

Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


By animator and artist Aiden Glenn of Pizza and Pixels

See more images like this.

Tetrahedron Optical Illusion

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

Many people have a hard time grasping what the meaning behind an optical illusion really is. I am no exception to the rule although I try my best to decipher the true meaning behind these works of art! Depending on the illusion, I can sit there for what seems like forever and never really get to the bottom of it. This Tetrahedron wasn’t any different for me. After looking at it for a little while, I still couldn’t quite grasp what the whole point of it was. It only appeared to be a spinning triangle that boasted a variety of colors in the image itself.
Tetrahedron
You tell me. What did you get out of this animated gif? Am I totally missing something in this simplistic piece of art? Did you notice how the color changes as the Tetrahedron spins around? The way the light reflects through the image is pretty cool and not something I would have ever thought of on my own. In reality, this thing is so simple that it shouldn’t be as intriguing as it is. Yet, I find myself sitting here and staring at the thing as it rotates round and round changing color along the way.

From green to brown to green to brown, the color changing technology in this Tetrahedron is something that you have to watch and observe to gain a full understanding of the illusion. Even though it looks like a triangle to me, that doesn’t mean you are going to think the same thing. Everyone has their own opinion on what optical illusions are cool and which ones they find boring or uninteresting.  Take the time to explore this rotating shape and see what you get out of it. Maybe you will see something that I didn’t, but for me, it really was something simple and amazing all at the same time.


[END]

Bill Malone presents “Sam the Bellhop”

I am a HUGE fan of magic, especially slight of hand. This is one of the best card tricks i’ve seen in a long while.:)

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Via ▶ Bill Malone presents “Sam the Bellhop” – YouTube.

Bill Malone’s signature trick. One of the most entertaining card tricks of all time!

Miss Ping Debunk – YouTube

A great debunking.:)

MIB


By CaptainDisillusion via YouTube

▶ Honda Illusions, An Impossible Made Possible

If you know me, you’ll know why i love this video – i love optical illusions. Check it out.

MIB


Via HondaVideo – YouTube.


Here is how they created these effects:

Image Authentication and Forensics – The Moon Landing Photos

By Hany Farid via Image Authentication and Forensics | Fourandsix Technologies

By some counts a surprising number of people believe that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax. These dis-believers point to, among other things, purported inconsistencies in some of the moon landing photos. I’ll describe the application of a new forensic technique that refutes some of these claims.

Shown below is the iconic photo of Buzz Aldrin in which the physical plausibility of the lighting and shadows has been called into question.

moonlanding

I have previously described how cast shadows in an image can be analyzed to determine if they are consistent with a single light source. In order to determine if shadows are authentic, we connect points on a shadow to their corresponding points on the object. These lines should all intersect at a single point (or in the special case, be parallel) — this point is the location of the light source projected into the image. The application of this forensic technique (as shown here) requires a clearly defined shadow to object pairing (e.g., the tip of a cone). Such shadows in the above photo are in short supply thus limiting the application of this forensic technique.

In collaboration with Dr. Eric Kee (Columbia University) and Prof. James O’Brien (UC Berkeley) we recently developed a new forensic technique that can be applied to ambiguously defined shadows [1]. In this analysis, we start at any point on a shadow and draw a wedge-shaped constraint that encompasses all parts of an object to which the shadow may correspond. Shown below is one such constraint. The constraint encompasses the entire sphere because there is no systematic way of reasoning about which part of the sphere is associated with a particular spot on the shadow.

moonlanding2

In the above figure, the shaded red region constrains the projected location of the light source. While obviously not as specific as a single line constraint, this approach allows us to analyze all cast shadows in an image.

Because we can now handle ambiguous shadow-object pairings, we can also exploit attached shadows to determine the location of the light source. An attached shadow occurs when an object occludes the light from itself (e.g., a non-full Moon). Shown below, for example, is an attached shadow on the sphere’s surface. The line that is tangent to an attached shadow constrains the projected location of the light source to be on the illuminated side of the object.

moonlanding3

Multiple cast and attached shadow constraints can be specified in an image. If the shadows are physically correct, then all of the constraints will share a common intersection (this consistency check is automatically determined using standard linear programming). Any violations of these constraints is evidence of photo tampering.

Shown below is the result of this new shadow analysis applied to the moon landing image. The cast shadow constraints are shown with solid red lines and the attached shadow constraints are shown with dashed lines. All of the constraints are consistent (the triangular region outlined in black denotes a common intersection). Despite some claims to the contrary, the lighting in this spectacular photo is physically consistent.

moonlanding_analysis

—————————-

[1] Eric Kee, James O’Brien and Hany Farid. Exposing Photo Manipulation with Inconsistent ShadowsACM Transactions on Graphics, 32(4):28:1-12, 2013.

[2] Eric Kee’s presentation at SIGGRAPH, 2013.


[END] via Image Authentication and Forensics | Fourandsix Technologies

When The Lights Were Out

From the good folks over at Mighty Optical Illusions. They always have fun and interesting stuff.

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

As it always goes with Rob Gonsalves, transitions he makes can be tricky to “digest” at first. Once again I invite you all to try and spot the logical “tipping” point, a postion where one motif ends and another one begins. Rob’s transformations are unique at very least. For more similar stuff be sure to check this tag.

When-The-Lights-Were-Out-by-Rob-Gonsalves

The Lie Is Out There: Three Types of Alien Encounters

TheLieIsOutThere_20_01
By Ashley Feinberg via gizmodo.com

Nearly everyone who’s looked up at the night sky has asked him or herself at least some form of the very same question: Are we really, truly alone in the universe? The only thing that’s certain is that we definitely don’t want to be. Maybe that explains why we keep seeing UFOs in the sky… and why they’re always one of three types.

alien603_250pxThe idea that humankind is pretty much the end all be all as far as intelligent life goes is a pretty depressing thought. It’s only natural, then, that we’d grasp on to pretty much anything as a sign of alien contact—seriously, anything. History is rife with reports of UFO sightings, but if you take a second to stop and think, nearly all of them come with perfectly reasonable explanations—and not one of them extraterrestrial.

Consider this: It would take one of our space ships 60,000 years simply to reach the edge of our galaxy alone. Now, that doesn’t bode well for an extraterrestrial playdate. But this hasn’t deterred the hoards of people willing to swear until their dying day that they have seen, interacted with, touched, and/or been probed (anally or otherwise) by creatures of a world beyond our own. And sure, the thought that we’re not alone is an exciting if not slightly unsettling one, but these little claims and subsequent “proofs” of alien life on Earth almost always fall into one of three categories: military exercises gone wrong, acts of nature, and of course, man-made hoaxes.


• Military

Ever notice how UFO sightings tend to conveniently happen on or around military bases? Yeah, that’s not a coincidence. Be it weather balloon, aerial spy cam, or rogue aircraft, people are more than happy to assume that the mystery circling overhead is alien—rather than military-made—especially during times of national paranoia.

The Battle of Los Angeles

battle of los angeles_300pxTimes of paranoia like, say, WWII, for instance. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the country’s sense of security was shattered. So three months later, when a weather balloon went casually wafting over Los Angeles in 1942, hysteria naturally followed suit. What’s a terrified city to do? Why, conduct a massive military airstrike against the interloper, of course—resulting in this iconic photograph of what was later dubbed The Battle of Los Angeles.

Initially the shadow in the sky was thought to be another attack coming over from Japan, but at a press conference shortly after the incident, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox quickly put that rumor to rest, calling it a “false alarm.” Which then left media personnel free to publish all sorts of “reports” of extraterrestrial coverup. And remember—after WWII, people were shaken. They were ready to believe anything.

The Battle of Los Angeles acclimated civilians to the notion that alien sightings were not only plausible but likely. It allowed for a more comfortable way to explain away their fears, and the instances only picked up speed.

The Roswell Incident

UFO2croppedOne of the most notorious alleged UFO sightings (and the inspiration for a criminally underrated television show), Roswell, all started in July of 1947 when local ranch foreman William Brazel stumbled upon a giant ditch hundreds of feet long and filled with debris—namely rubber strips, tin foil, paper, scotch tape, and toughened sticks.

Since the bizarre mess was on the property where he worked, Brazel promptly reported it to the authorities, and the account eventually made its way over to the Roswell Army Airfield base. The base’s commander denounced the mess to be nothing more than a weather balloon gone wrong, encouraging everyone to forget about the mini-dump and go about their business. So of course, conspiracy theorists decided it was the perfect time for a good, ol’ fashioned UFO rabble-rousing.

roswell_600px

Stanton Friedman, a physicist and amateur ufologist (it’s a word), was one of those noble crusaders for the alien origins explanation—it’s just that he decided to wait a good 30 years before weighing in because, well, no one really knows why. After interviewing Major Jesse Marcel—one of the site’s original inspectors—in 1978, Friedman got what he was looking for. Marcel claimed that the entire event was a military coverup of an alien spaceship. Bingo!

Glenn Dennis, a mortician, also piped in (another 11 years after that) and claimed that dead bodies had been removed from the site and taken to an airbase. But apparently, these people weren’t totally insane (or at the very least, totally wrong).

ufo-crash1-200x225Because there was so much controversy over what actually happened, two separate official government investigations took place—one in 1994 and the other in 1995. The first confirmed that the cause had indeed been a weather balloon; the military was testing them in a classified program that used sensitive lights to try to detect Russian nuclear tests. The second cleared up that whole “dead bodies” issue; the test had used dummies during parachute testing, dummies which then had to be removed.

After Roswell, interest in potential alien spacecrafts skyrocketed, with almost 800 sightings occurring in the weeks that directly followed. As with the Battle of Los Angeles, the international climate probably played a role; this was mid-Cold War, when Americans were well-primed for a little extra paranoia and perpetual fear. While photographs of UFOs are now are relatively rare and met with considerable skepticism, back then, the claims were accepted in droves. Each UFO sighting was merely another log tossed on top of an already hefty pile of anxiety-inducing fodder.

The Mysterious Lubbock Lights

In August and September of 1951, the small town of Lubbock, Texas enjoyed its own brief stint in the UFO spotlight. The Texas Technical College professors spotted a group of 20-30 some-odd lights floating overhead the night of August 25. The next week, student Carl Hart noticed a similar phenomenon in the sky and snapped photos, which the local newspaper then published and eventually sent nationwide.

lubbock_600px

Lieutenant Edward Ruppelt from the Air Force’s Project Blue Book (the government agency set up for the express purpose of UFO investigations) analyzed the images and ultimately declared them not to be a hoax—but he didn’t believe them to be of alien origin, either. Rather Ruppelt believed that the vision had been nothing more than streetlights being reflected off the underbellies of a flock of plovers. Witnesses in the area supported this explanation, agreeing that they had in fact seen large flocks of migratory birds and had even her some squawking.

Still, others maintained that the lieutenant was simply attempting to cover up the training exercises of the Air Port’s new flying wing. Whichever the correct explanation might be, however, certainly doesn’t include aliens.


• Acts of Nature

Pink UFO: A stack of altocumulus lenticularis clouds hovers over the Alpujarra Mountains in southern Spain, stained by the rays of the setting sun Picture: IAN DENNIS

Pink UFO: A stack of altocumulus lenticularis clouds hovers over the Alpujarra Mountains in southern Spain, stained by the rays of the setting sun
Picture: IAN DENNIS

These little alien scares down’t necessarily have to come from the hand of man, though. Our world is fully capable of creating its own absolutely beautiful, stunning phenomenons that can pretty easily terrify any witnesses who don’t understand what’s going on in the sky above them. Generally, as science advances, we have fewer and fewer instances of people reporting suspicious, potentially otherworldly activity in the wake of a natural occurrence. Still, it’s curious how quick we are to jump to the conclusion that a phenomenal vision came from some alien being when, in fact, it just came from our very own phenomenal world.

Portugal’s Miracle of the Sun

In 1917, 30,000 people in Fatima, Portugal supposedly witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun,” an event that was supposed to predict the appearance of the Virgin Mary. Crowds gathered to find themselves staring at a cloudy sky for hours. But when the clouds finally did part and the sun came bearing down, everybody simultaneously experienced radiating, multicolored lights that came spiraling downwards. And cue collective panic… now.

portugal_600px

Understandably, though, and to this clearly devoutly religious population, the bright, shiny lights could very well have seemed like a sign of the End Times. Nearly 100 years later, we’re aware of the fact that staring at the sun for such a long of a period of time has the potential to directly induce mass hysteria and hallucinations. But hey, they were looking for a little excitement; at least they got what they came for. The severe retina damage was just a bonus.

MORE . . .

What Are the Marfa Lights | Marfa Texas

By Marc Lallanilla via LiveScience

marfa lights 947The Marfa Lights, mysterious glowing orbs that appear in the desert outside the West Texas town of Marfa, have mystified people for generations.

According to eyewitnesses, the Marfa Lights appear to be roughly the size of basketballs and are varyingly described as white, blue, yellow, red or other colors.

Reportedly, the Marfa Lights hover, merge, twinkle, split into two, flicker, float up into the air or dart quickly across Mitchell Flat (the area east of Marfa where they’re most commonly reported).

There seems to be no way to predict when the lights will appear; they’re seen in various weather conditions, but only a dozen or so nights a year. And nobody knows for sure what they are — or if they really even exist at all.

A closeup of the Marfa Lights

A closeup of the Marfa Lights

The Native Americans of the area thought the Marfa Lights were fallen stars, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The first mention of the lights comes from 1883, when cowhand Robert Reed Ellison claimed to have seen flickering lights one evening while driving a herd of cattle near Mitchell Flat. He assumed the lights were from Apache campfires.

Ellison was told by area settlers that they often saw the lights, too, but upon investigation, they found no ashes or other evidence of a campfire, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

During World War II, pilots from nearby Midland Army Air Field tried to locate the source of the mysterious lights, but were unable to discover anything.

A superior mirage

Lovers of the paranormal have attributed the Marfa Lights to everything from space aliens to the wandering ghosts of Spanish conquistadors.

marfa1_250pxAcademics, too, have tried to offer a scientific explanation for the enigmatic lights. A group of physics students from the University of Texas at Dallas concluded that headlights from vehicles on nearby U.S. Highway 67 could explain at least some of the reported sightings of the Marfa Lights.

Another possible explanation is the refraction of light caused by layers of air at different temperatures. This optical illusion, sometimes called a superior mirage or a “Fata Morgana,” according to Skeptoid.com, occurs when a layer of calm, warm air rests above a layer of cooler air.

A Fata Morgana is sometimes seen in the ocean, causing a ship to appear to float above the horizon. The temperature gradients needed to produce this optical effect are common in the West Texas desert.

Glowing gases

Still others speculate the Marfa Lights may be caused by . . .

MORE . . .

Circling Dots Optical Illusion

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

Here’s an excellent “wavy” animation discovered by Till Hartmann. It’s a great illustration of a collective phenomena. When you observe closely, each dot travels along a regular circle-path. Since most of the circles are mutually out of phase, they form illusive waves floating steadily across the screen. Things like this happen all over the place; just take water or sound waves for example. They work in basically the same way – the small back-and-forth motions of individual molecules lead to compression larger-scale patterns moving throughout the medium.

It’s a simple demonstration of how large-scale, collective phenomena can emerge from very simple small-scale behaviour.

dots illusion

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via Mighty Optical Illusions

10 Ways Magic Tricks Your Brain

By Scott Hillard via Listverse

We all like magic and more importantly we all like to think we can work out magic tricks if we really want to. But as it turns out, even a simple card trick utilizes neuro-scientific principles to trick our brain in ways that we usually can’t consciously control. So what exactly is wrong with our brain? Well nothing really, but years of evolution has left it with traits that leave it wide open to be duped by magic. For example . . .

10 • Focus

sleight-of-hand-magician_200pxMulti tasking is a myth, the human brain simply wasn’t designed to focus on two things at once and magicians take full advantage. Our attention is pulled to one thing in particular due to the ‘moving-spotlight‘ theory. In short, the theory says that our attention is like a spotlight, highlighting one thing while leaving what surrounds it in the dark. When an item or action is within the spotlight the parts of the brain involved in processing it work more efficiently, but anything beyond the spotlight is barely processed at all, at least not by our conscious mind. This allows magicians to pull a sleight of hand right under our noses, as long as something else is drawing our spotlight what happens beyond it, to our brain isn’t happening at all.

9 • Made Up Memories

Screen-Shot-2013-06-17-at-10.21.28-AM_200pxThe ‘misinformation effect’ occurs when information we are given after an event alters our memory of it. For example, a magician asks you to choose a card from the left side of the deck and return it without telling him. Before the razzle-dazzle where he guesses your card he may say something like ‘Now you chose any card you wanted, correct?’ And in the heat of the moment you will say you did. The truth is you were only given the option of the left side of the deck, but the ambiguous comments from the magician alters how you remember the trick, leaving you with a false memory making the trick seem perhaps more incredible than it was.

8 • Predicted Wrong Future

future-ahead_200pxWhen you see a ball get thrown in the air, it comes back down. You’ve a seen it a million times. You know that what comes up must come down and so does your brain. In fact because of something called the ‘Memory-prediction framework’ our brain sometimes remembers certain actions so well, it stops paying close attention because it predicts how they will end. When a ball gets thrown in the air our brain instantaneously recalls memories of similar events and produces an idea of what’s going to happen next, but sometimes it’s wrong. When a magician puts a ball in a cup only to have it disappear when the cup is lifted, we are shocked because what our brain predicted didn’t come true. Our brains often feed us a prediction and convinces us we saw it happen, which leaves us even more shocked when the predicted action didn’t happen at all.

7 • Free Will

free-will_200pxWhen we ‘pick a card, any card’ we are very rarely picking at random, no matter what it seems. It is usually the magician choosing for us, only without our knowledge. In many card tricks the card we apparently choose is ‘forced’ meaning the magician did something, mental or physical, to make us choose exactly what they wanted us to. But our brain will often over look or deny this as an option, in favor of free choice. Our brain simply does not want to believe it was forced and will often omit facts that may indicate that it was, instead jumping fully into the false idea that all choices were all our own.

6 • Filling in The Blanks

Wayne-Alan-magic-show-lady-saw-in-half_200pxThe ‘woman sawed in half trick’ is old enough that most people know the secret. The head we see in one end of the box doesn’t belong to the legs we see at the other. But our brain insists and assumes it does, why? Because our brain is a sucker for continuity. When it sees a head in rough alignment with a set of legs it uses past experience to fill in the blank and tell us that obviously a torso exists between those two body parts. In many magic tricks an object is partially covered, and our brain uses what it CAN see to continue the image and fill in the blank, of course that is exactly what the magician wants.

MORE . . .

Watch a Guy Freak People Out By Floating in the Air on a Moving Bus

Can you figure out how this is done? I have my thoughts (clue to my solution: “FA”). What are yours? Leave a comment.


via gizmodo

Though this prank video is an obvious attempt at force inducing viral-ity by Pepsi Max, it’s still a pretty fun watch. The magician Dynamo tricks people into thinking he can levitate by ‘magically’ following a bus around as it moves across London. Watch people freak out when they see him float.

MORE at gizmodo . . .

Charlie Chaplin Optic Illusion

Via Charlie Chaplin Optic Illusion – YouTube:

Tetris Optical Illusion

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

Can you make sense of those strange tetris-like symbols filling the screen? They hide more than meets the eye. Those of you staying updated via “Optical Illusion of The Day” widgets, have a slight advantage in solving the “mystery”. After you’re finished with this one, make sure you haven’t missed this, this, this, this and this!

BetThisIllusion

‘Mars Rat’ Takes Internet by Storm

by Mike Wall via Space.com

A Mars rock that bears a passing resemblance to a rodent is scuttling across the Internet with gusto, even inspiring some fans to set up a Twitter account in its name.

UFO buffs spotted the purported “Mars rat” in a panoramic photo snapped in September 2012 by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Zooming in on a portion of the image reveals what appears to be a rodent crouching between two rocks, its nose to the ground.

Once seen, it cannot be unseen. The “Mars rat” captured by Curiosity’s lens.
CREDIT: NASA | View full size image

“It’s a cute rodent on Mars. Note its lighter-color upper and lower eyelids, its nose and cheek areas, its ear, its front leg and stomach,” Scott Waring wrote at UFO Sightings Daily back in December. “Looks similar to a squirrel camouflaged in the stones and sand by its colors.”

In an update to that post, Waring raised the possibility that NASA flew the rat/squirrel to Mars secretly, as part of an experiment testing out the Red Planet’s ability to support life as we know it.

“Why would they not tell us about it?” Waring wrote. “Because the squirrel would be expected to die eventually and that would get PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] to fight against them in a court of law.”

The Mars rat has now gone viral, jumping from the pages of UFO Sightings Daily to more mainstream publications such as Discovery News, Fox News and a host of other outlets (including, of course, SPACE.com).

The rodent has even picked up its own Twitter account, @RealMarsRat. Just 49 people were following the rat as of Friday afternoon (May 31), but that’s still pretty good for a rodent.

While some people seem to really believe that a squirrel is crawling around on the Red Planet (or was in September, anyway), the Mars rodent is actually an example of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia.

Pareidolia refers to the tendency of the human brain to perceive animals or other familiar shapes in vague or random images. The phenomenon has fueled a great deal of excited speculation about the Red Planet over the years, most famously after some people saw a humanoid face on Mars in photos taken by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.

And just this March, UFO Sightings Daily reported that an apparent animal, perhaps a rat or a lizard, lurked in another one of Curiosity’s photos.

It’s highly unlikely that a rat, squirrel, lizard or any other organism could survive on the cold, dry Martian surface today, researchers say, though some scientists think the Red Planet may still be able to support microbial life in select underground pockets.

Things were likely different in Mars’ wetter and warmer past, however. Curiosity’s observations led mission scientists to announce earlier this year that microbes could have survived on the Red Planet billions of years ago.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

Which Way Is This Train Going?

By Vurdlak via Mighty Optical Illusions

In which direction does this #train move? From which end of the tunnel is it arriving from? It might be both! Check if you can “see” a different direction each time you look at it? If you stare long enough, you might even make the train change its course. Today’s illusion works in the same manner, our famous Spinning Girl does. After all, there is no definitive answer, since the animation loops through just a few frames. On the other hand, if you recognise the station, you just might know the true answer after all😉

train

Jedi Mind Trick?

Brain Thinks It Inhabits Virtual Body

By Tanya Lewis via LiveScience

In virtual reality, a virtual arm can feel like a real one.
CREDIT: © Mel Slater

The brain’s perception of the body may seem set in stone, but a new study shows the mind can be tricked into taking an entire virtual body for its own.

In 1998, neuroscientists Matthew Botvinick and Jonathan Cohen performed an experiment where they showed people a rubber hand being stroked with a paintbrush, while applying the same strokes to each person’s own, hidden hand. This gave people the feeling that the dummy hand was their own.

Scientists have since demonstrated the so-called rubber hand illusion for other body parts — and even whole bodies. Often this is done by putting people in virtual reality settings.

“It seems the brain, under certain conditions, quite easily accepts the idea that [a virtual body] is your body,” said study author Mel Slater, a computer scientist at the University of Barcelona. [Eye Tricks: Gallery of Visual Illusions]

In the new study, Slater and his colleagues investigated whether taking ownership of a full virtual body resulted in neglect of the real body.

Out-of-body experience

Head-mounted display

Head-mounted display

Study participants wore head-mounted displays in which they saw a virtual body when they looked down at their real body. Half of the participants experienced a realistic body illusion, where the virtual body’s posture and movements matched those of their real body, while the other half experienced an unrealistic one, where the posture and movements didn’t match their own.

The researchers had the participants place their hand on a cooling device, and measured participants’ sensitivity to small changes in temperature as they experienced a realistic virtual body illusion or an unrealistic one.

During the rubber hand illusion, the real hand has been shown to cool down, suggesting the brain pays more attention to the rubber hand. The researchers suspected that if people were neglecting their real body in favor of the virtual one, sensitivity to temperature changes on their real hand would diminish.

But the opposite was true: People remained sensitive to temperature changes when they experienced a strong illusion that the virtual body belonged to them, and became less sensitive when the illusion was unrealistic. In other words, the better the illusion, the more aware people were of temperature changes in their real hand.

MORE . . .

The Escherian Stairwell

Does the Escherian stairwell really exist?

Source: The Escherian Stairwell (Original video) (YouTube)

Also see:

The Face on Mars

A great example of pareidolia

face-on-mars2

Via Relatively Interesting

Back in 1976, the Viking Orbiter 1 acquired some images of the Cydonia region of Mars as part of the search for a potential landing site for the Viking Lander 2.  One of the images included a shot of a region that looked remarkably similar to a face. The image was released to the public by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as part of their public relations effort.

Here it is:

face-on-mars_250px

Shortly after the images were released, some people (mostly in lay literature) argued that the face was artificially created, and that this was concrete evidence for either past or present intelligence on Mars. The rock formation looked so similar to a face – how could it not have been designed by an intelligent architect?

Some believe the face was created by Martians, others say it is a tomb, or part of an ancient city. Others believe that NASA is involved in a conspiracy to cover up the true nature of the Face – all part of a secret space program (then why would they have released the picture in the first place?).

Mac Tonnies goes so far as to say that the Face is a “genuine scientific enigma”. After NASA released new images of the Face in 1998, he claims that the “experts either don’t understand the workings of their own instruments or else feel somehow threatened by the Face’s enduring mystery.” (you can check out his very centered site here)

“Scientific enigma”, the Face is not.

Introducing…. Pareidolia

Humans – all humans – have an innate ability to detect patterns out of seemingly random noise. This ability is particularly strong when it comes to faces. As David Hume once said, “There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good will to everything, that hurts or pleases us.

This phenomenon – detecting something clear and distinct from an apparently obscure stimulus – is called “pareidolia“. Carl Sagan hypothesized that, as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.

pareidolia-collage_600px

Pareidolia not only applies to the detection of faces, but also to the perception of religious imagery and themes. In 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on her tortilla she had made appeared similar to the face of Jesus Christ. Thousands of people came to see the burnt tortilla. Do think that if Son of God wanted to be seen, he would appear on a tortilla? Or the Virgin Mary, on a grilled cheese sandwich? Wouldn’t they pick something a little more majestic?

Revisiting the Face on Mars

But first, let’s revisit the Face on Mars. Back in 1976, the imaging technology was inferior to today’s, and the resolution of the images was significantly lower. Even compared to 1998, the resolution of space images has increased dramatically. Let’s compare the Face from lowest to highest resolution:

MarsFaceComparison

The 1976 version sure does look like a face, and if you strain your eyes, you might still see a face in the 1998 version. But what about the 2001 version?  Not so much.

Let’s look even closer at the 2001 version, just to be sure . . .

MORE . . .

31 Inanimate Objects With Secret Inner Lives – Pareidolia

How many times have you heard a paranormal investigator claim to see faces and images of the deceased in everything from a cinnabon swirl to a waft of smoke rising from a candle? Are they seeing the deceased? No. What they’re experiencing is a nearly uncontrollable urge by our brains to seek out and identify patterns. Especially human faces. This phenomenon has a name . . .

Pareidolia

«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia


«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.

«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Try to NOT see the face in the shadow.

How powerless are we to our own brains? Look at the image to the right and try to NOT see a face in the shadow cast on the garage door. Bet you can’t!!!

See? Our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.

Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

Via BuzzFeed

Click here for 23 more mind-controlling examples of Pareidolia.

Jastrow Illusion in Action

By Vurdlak via Mighty Optical Illusions

VIDEO: Jastrow Illusion in ActionTake a look at this short and simple animated gif showcasing the Jastrow illusion in action! The Jastrow illusion was first discovered in 1889, by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow. In this clip, both figures are identical in size, although the lower one appears to be slightly longer. The short edge of the upper shape is compared to the long side of the lower one. If you still can’t pinpoint what causes this illusion – it’s because the lower object is placed slightly to the right. This isn’t immediately noticed, because both of their edges are skewed, and both are placed along the imaginary line, one parallel to their edges. I’m not sure I managed to explain this properly, so better take a look at this picture below and you’ll understand the cause immediately!

Jastrow_illusion_revealed

VIDEO: Missing Cubes Optical Illusion

If you know me, you know i love a good optical illusion. Check this out:)

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

missing_cubes_optical_illusion_thumbIf you haven’t had the chance to see this “Missing/Extra Cube” video that went viral recently, here’s your chance to see it now! Norberto Jansenson has re-thinked famous missing-piece illusion (original version included triangle), and then presented it in much more appealing and effective manner.

The idea behind this toy is somewhat identical to “Preposterous Puzzle” and “Confuzzle“. Norberto starts with a wooden frame filled entirely by 63 cubical pieces, where he then starts rearranging them. By the end of the video he ends up with few extra pieces on his side. Let’s see if we can solve this illusive puzzle one more time!

The vanishing train video illusion

If you know me, you know i like anything that messes with our brain. This one is pretty good. If you think you know how it’s done leave a comment.:)

via DECEPTOLOGY

 It might not be quite as impressive as the "Back to the Future" train, but no CGI was involved.

It might not be quite as impressive as the
“Back to the Future” train, but no CGI was involved.

This trick train video is from neuroscientist Al Seckel, who says that it’s of an actual model train going into a tunnel, without the benefit of any computer tricks. So what’s really happening in this optical illusion?

50 Things That Look Like Faces – Pareidolia

Do i see Jesus on this telephone pole?

Do i see a crucified Jesus
on this telephone pole?

Many ghost hunters claim to see the faces and images of the deceased in everything from a smudgy mirror to a swirl of smoke rising from burgers on a barbecue. Religious people claim to see images of holy figures in everything from tree trunks to vines on a telephone pole.

Are these figures really showing themselves or is there something else going on?

Pareidolia

«A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.» – Wikipedia


«. . . a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct.

«Under ordinary circumstances, pareidolia provides a psychological explanation for many delusions based upon sense perception.» – The Skeptic’s Dictionary

In other words, our brains are hardwired to seek out and find faces.

Just HOW hardwired are we to see faces where none exist? Look at the following montage of photos and try to NOT see faces. Prepare to lose control of your mind to the power of pareidolia!!!! Bwahaha!!!!!!

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

by James Plafke via geekosystem.com

Click any image to begin viewing.

See more examples of Pareidolia . . .

Illusion: How to see the past

via New Scientist TV

Think you’re living in the moment? You could actually be experiencing another time.

A brain trick called the flash-lag illusion shows how we don’t always perceive the present. This version, created by Eiji Watanabe from the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki, Japan, presents a moving cube occasionally accompanied by a flashing twin. When the second box appears, it’s really lined up with the moving cube yet it seems to lag behind. A second example uses a gear animation to show how a flashing piston looks out of sync with another that’s shifting up and down.

The illusion was thought to be caused by our brain extrapolating into the future: it can accurately anticipate the position of the moving cube because it follows a predictable path, but it falls short when assessing where the flashing cube is due to the time it takes to process a stimulus.

Recently David Eagleman of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and colleagues found that our brain is reaching back into the past instead. It waits to see what happens right after the flash before determining the cube’s position: changing the trajectory of the moving object after the blinking can influence where it’s perceived.

The effect is interesting because it gives insight into our notion of self and whether we exist in the here and now. To find out more, check out our feature, “The self: You think you live in the present?“.

If you enjoyed this post, see how to move a dot with your mind or how to affect an object’s motion by changing your gaze.

Also See: New Scientist Videos (YouTube)

Can you figure this photo out?

If you know me, you know i love things that toy with the brain. Time for some toying with the brain:)

via Richard Wiseman

Can you figure out what is going on?

rock_600px

Click the image to enlarge

Amazing face morph illusion

Brought to you by Richard Wiseman

Click on the image. It will open in a new window. Focus on the crosshair in the center of the image. Can you see the celebrity faces morphing? Stop focusing on the crosshair to confirm the celebrity faces aren’t really morphing.:)

faces

The Hidden Chairs

By via Mighty Optical Illusions

These chairs are something you do not get to see every day. Collection titled “The Hidden Chairs” by French design studio Ibride provides this beautiful, intriguing animated optical illusion you see on your right. It blew my mind first time I saw it! All of the chairs from mentioned collection look irregular and warped, but when you see them from a specific angle, their shape will remind you of the classic design.

When you see each of the chairs from a specific angle, you might easily mistake the right way to sit on them. Gallery below depicts this perfectly! The Hidden Chairs line includes three beech plywood chairs that follow three historical designs: “The Hidden Shaker”, “The Hidden Terence” and finally “The Hidden Wagner”.

Paris-based design trio Ibride comprises graphic designer Rachel Convers, designer Benoît Convers and editor Carine Jannin. The furniture was shown at Maison&Objet design fair in Paris, which finished last week. Let’s see if they manage to trick you as well!

MORE . . .

Check Out 10 Funny Optical Illusions

via Odd Stuff Magazine

Another post dedicated to optical illusions, many of us interested in this topic. Optical illusions created our mind, which is like the easiest way to look at things. At first glance, we are try to correlate the images with the most basic and intimate interpretation, and only in few seconds, we understand what is in the picture, and we begin to see the individual parts.

Change of perspective – is another common technique: it manipulates our visual perception, making the object larger, smaller, closer or farther away than it actually is. In short, Lets look…

(click any image to begin viewing)

Want to see more? Just can’t get enough? Check Out 30 MORE funny optical illusions at Odd Stuff Magazine!

Change Blindness

via Unnatural Acts that can improve your thinking

This image is changing.

Do you see how this image is changing?
More here

Change blindness is the failure to detect non-trivial changes in the visual field. The failure to see things changing right before your eyes may seem like a design fault, but it is actually a sign of evolutionary efficiency.

Examples may be seen by clicking  here, here, and here.

The term ‘change blindness’ was introduced by Ronald Rensink in 1997, although research in this area had been going on for many years. Experiments have shown that dramatic changes in the visual field often go unnoticed whether they are brought in gradually, flickered in and out, or abruptly brought in and out at various time intervals. The implication seems to be that the brain requires few details for our visual representations; the brain doesn’t store dozens of details to which it can compare changes (Simons and Levin: 1998). The brain is not a video recorder and it is not constantly processing all the sense data available to it but is inattentive to much of that data, at least on a conscious level.

Change detection in films is notoriously poor when the change occurs during a cut or pan, as demonstrated by the color-changing card trick video and a number of other videos where a different actor appears after a cut, without the change being noticed by most viewers. Some experiments have shown that a person may be talking to someone (behind a counter, for example) who leaves (bends down behind the counter or exits the room) and is replaced by a different person, without the change being noticed.

Apparently, change blindness is due to the efficient nature of our evolved visual processing system, but it also opens the door to being deceived, much to the delight of magicians and sleight-of-hand con artists.

SOURCES HERE.

More examples of change blindness:

The ‘Invisible Artist’, Disappears In His Work (PHOTOS)

If you know me, you know i love optical illusions. Try to find the “invisible artist” – Liu Bolin – in his photos. Enjoy:)

MIB

via The Huffington Post.

Liu Bolin is the “Where’s Waldo” of the art world. But instead of a red skull cap and sweater, the Chinese artist dons his own painted artworks — ready-made disguises that allow the sly chameleon to hide in plain site.

Artist Liu Bolin is hidden in his work.

Bolin has been blending into his surroundings for some time now, disappearing amidst chaotic toy store shelves, grocery produce sections and graffiti walls around the world. This year, the internationally regarded “invisible man” is bringing his photographic illusions to New York City in a solo exhibition at the Eli Klein Fine Art Gallery.

Titled “Lost in Art,” the show will highlight Bolin’s newest photographs, capturing the artist and other cooperative assistants hidden in labyrinths of canned goods and barren rural landscapes. To create the images, the artist spends up to 10 hours on each of his detailed body paintings, obsessing over every crack and crevice of the scenes before snapping a photograph.

What’s the allure of being an invisible man, you ask? “Each one chooses his or her path to come in contact with the external world,” Bolin stated to The Daily Mail. “I chose to merge with the environment.”

Click on any image below to begin viewing the slideshow.

More photos:

Why does the moon look bigger on the horizon?

via Relatively Interesting

wpid-Moon-Illusion-Photo-Elias-Chasiotis_300pxWhen you look up at the evening sky as the moon begins to rise above the horizon, it seems to swell and then retract as it goes higher in the sky. This effect, where the moon looks bigger along the horizon, is known as the “moon illusion”. It’s not only limited to the moon – it can also be seen as the sun rises as sets. You can dispel the illusion by covering one eye or using a telescope. Humans’ binocular vision is only part of the reason behind the disparity in size. Not convinced? You can also hold a coin or another object up to the moon as it travels through the sky to provide a point of reference to see that the moon remains the same size despite its appearance.

How does the moon illusion work?

The true cause of the moon illusion is a mystery to scientists, both ancient and modern. The strange thing? The moon is actually roughly 1.5% smaller when it is near the horizon than when it is high in the sky, because it is farther away by up to one Earth radius.

One theory hypothesizes that the illusion occurs because when the moon or sun are along the horizon, your brain has more objects to use as a reference, thus allowing it to compare against size and distance. When you have the skyline with trees, buildings, and other objects, your brain tends to interpret the moon as larger than those objects. However, when the moon is far above the horizon, your brain has fewer objects to use as a reference to compare to the size of the moon. Therefore, when the moon is in the empty sky, it appears smaller.

7-08-moon-illusion

The Ponzo Illusion: how to trick your brain

Ponzo_illusionPart of the reason your brain has such a hard time interpreting the size of the moon in the sky is because the moon’s size does not change as it goes across the sky. Other objects in the world around you (that are not in the sky) appear to be smaller as they move closer to you and gain size as they move farther away. This expectation is physiologically imprinted in your brain. Optical illusions that you may have seen where you compare the size of two lines or circles, such as the Ponzo Illusion, illustrate your brain’s ability to trick itself based on the sizes of objects. Note that in the Ponzo illusion, due to the converging lines, the image that is “further” appears to be larger – even though it is the same size as its foreground version.

MORE . . .

Curse That Painting!

By Massimo Polidoro via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – csicop.org

Paranormal legends about paintings have always existed. Some think that a picture falling off the wall represents a bad omen for the person depicted or photographed in it. Others feel watched by some portraits whose eyes seem to follow onlookers as they move through a room. And still others claim that paintings can come alive; people in it can move, smile, close their eyes, or even leave the picture. And, of course, tales of “cursed” paintings abound.

Certainly great writers, from Oscar Wilde with The Picture of Dorian Gray to Stephen King with Rose Madder, have been able to tell extraordinary stories of scary and unsettling paintings. However, many believe that “haunted” paintings can exist in real life. Coming from a family that has always dealt with paintings—my grandfather is a painter, my father was an art collector, and together with their wives they have run a shop selling paintings for over fifty years—it is easy to understand why this is a subject that particularly fascinates me.

The Hands Resist Him

polidoro-curse-painting-hands-resist

The Hands Resist Him painting by Bill Stoneham was sold on eBay as “cursed.”

In February 2000, a supposedly cursed painting was auctioned on eBay. It was titled The Hands Resist Him and was painted in 1972 by California artist Bill Stoneham. It depicted a young boy and a female doll standing in front of a glass paneled door against which many hands are pressed. The owners claimed that the characters in it came alive, sometimes leaving the painting and entering the room in which it was being displayed. It was sold for $1,025 to Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Mich­igan, which, when contacted some time later, stated that they had not noticed anything strange since buying the painting.

Luckily for Stoneham, the rumor caused by the story made the painting so popular that it was depicted in a short movie by A.D. Calvo (Sitter), as the CD cover art for Carnival Divine’s self-titled album, and was featured in the PC video game “Scratches.” Today, prints of it—and of its sequel, Resistance at the Threshold—are sold in different sizes.

Smiling Portrait

polidoro-curse-painting-smiling-portrait

Teresa Rovere. On the right, seen through a viewfinder, the face seems to smile;
it’s just an illusion created by the shape of the lens.

In November 2005, the Italian TV show Voyager showed a painting owned by self-proclaimed psychic Gustavo Rol from Turin. It depicted a noble lady, Teresa Rovere, wearing nineteenth century garments and a somber frown. However, when the painting was seen through the viewfinder of a camera the mouth seemed to curl upward, forming a smile. Nothing could be seen with the naked eye and the film recorded through the camera did not show anything unusual. On the show, it was claimed that this was an unexplainable phenomenon, maybe an after-life paranormal experiment of the late Rol. In reality, it was a simple optical effect due to the round shape of the viewfinder, the lens of which tends to narrow and make rounder anything seen through it: thus, the coronet on Teresa’s hair seems to bend downward just like the mouth appears to bend upward, creating the illusion of a smile that in reality is not there.

MORE . . .

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