Optical Illusions, An Eye-Popping Extravaganza of Visual Tricks

Reality is merely an illusion,
albeit a very persistent one.
— Albert Einstein

Everything you “see” depends strongly on the context and attention you give to it. The mind and the world you experience are inseparable, as it is your 3-pound brain that make the world meaningful. Seeing isn’t some kind of direct perception of reality. Actually, our bairns are cnostanlty itnerperting, correcting, and giving srtuctrue to the viusal ipnut form our eeys. If this were not the case, you would not see any colors (consider that all the beautiful colors you see don’t really exist), and you would probably see the world upside-down! Moreover, you would notice in your visual field a very large dot, called the “blind spot,” where the optical nerve enters the eye.

A Zen master said once: “If you pour water into a cup, water becomes the cup; if you fill a bottle with water, it becomes the bottle!” Likewise, the context shapes the appearance of the world surrounding you. Your brains work by comparing information and stimuli: contrasting colors, shapes, depth in a dynamic changing environment … that’s why perception is relative and not absolute.

Though you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum, under the right conditions you can see the flicker of a small candle up to 9 miles (15 km) away, and can hear a watch ticking 20 feet (6 meters) away!

In my new book “Optical Illusions, An Eye-Popping Extravaganza of Visual Tricks” I explain with simple words how and why our brain sometimes removes and neglects visual information and physical stimuli of the outer world in order to take action in a more accurate and rapid manner, and to enjoy life’s benefits. However, if economy of perception makes functional living and survival possible, it is also the cause of many optical illusions.

Below are illustrated two effective examples of visual misperception:


Take a careful look at the color lines across the two ellipses, which represent the hubcaps of the tractor. Which line is the longest: the blue line or the red one? (Hint: the color lines are not the same. I can assure you, the answer will shock you… Check it with a ruler!)

tractor tires

Which color line is the longest?


Though this is a static image, the water drops seem to move slightly up and down and the yellow horizontal lines appear to wave and wobble! Curiously enough, vision researchers have demonstrated that illusory motion triggers brain areas similar to those activated by real motion.

wobling drops

wobbling lines

My book “Optical Illusions, an Eye-Popping Extravaganza of Visual Tricks” is available at Amazon: http://www.amzn.com/0486493547/archimelabpuz-20

my book