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Uncanny Illusions: Part II

[Type Ctrl-F5 to replay.]

Animated demonstration that the two squares in the Checkerboard Illusion are the same shade of gray (the same color).

[If you didn't come here from our "Uncanny Illusions - Part I,"
you may want to click here to see the introduction to this page,
which includes more optical illusions you may not want to miss.]

In addition to matching the color of square A, the bars (all of which are uniformly the same shade of gray as square B, from which they were made) make it clear that B is also an exact match to the two "dark" squares straddling the corners closest to and farthest from the viewer (A is one of the latter two). Furthermore, it makes it clear that none of the "light" colored squares matches B (though the one diagonally touching B to the left comes close, watch the bars as they move over it).

Some folks still find it hard to believe that the two squares are the same shade of gray. So, here is another way "to prove" it.

Another demonstration that the two squares in the Checkerboard Illusion are the same shade of gray (the same color).

And another one:

[If image is not animated, click "refresh," "reload," or type Ctrl-F5.]
Another animation demonstrating that the two squares in the Checkerboard Illusion are the same shade of gray (the same color).

Actually, these could be gimmicked too. So, if you are still doubting, do it yourself: Right click on the optical illusion and save it on your hard drive. Use any painting program and cut out the center of square A and paste it over the center of square B.

Here's a Real Life Version

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If the video above fails to play, left-click here; to download, right-click.

The essence of the shading-based optical illusions.

The black and white chess pieces are not black
and white; they are exactly the same!

The black and white chess pieces are exactly the same.  BTW, the in the two images are not even close to the same shade of grey.

An incredible shading optical illusion.

And the same is true for the A and B panels below:

Another incredible shading optical illusion.

And here are more illusions offering
an even more uncanny effect,
and these are in color.

If you are over 18,
An X-Rated Optical Illusion ;-)
here's an X-Rated illusion

Sometimes the right hand does know what the left hand is doing.
The Elephant Hand.The Leopard Hand.

What's this pattern made of?
The Tiger Body Illusion.

And What's This?
[Place your mouse over the image to find out.]
Coastline of Greenland and its numerous fjords as seen from space

Here's a Mind Blower. Really!

If video fails to play, left-click here; to download, right-click.

This one may be hard to believe. The rotating blue square
behind the yellow panels is not changing in size. Nor is it
moving closer and then farther away. Really. It's the
same size regardless of its position as it rotates.
[Click the image to see how this can be so.]
The Pulsating Square Illusion:  Believe it or not, the rotating blue square does not change size! Click the image to see how this can be.

Click on the image of the woman.
Which way is she rotating?
Are you sure?

The Rotating Dancer Illusion.  BTW, when she changes direction of rotation, her raised right leg becomes her left leg and vice versa.

Now watch as your brain stubbornly
refuses to interpret reality correctly:

You may need to get or update Adobe Flash Player to view this video.
If the video above fails to play, click here.

The disappearing and reappearing woman. Click the image.

Count the women and then click the image.  Which one disappears?  Where does she go?  How does she come back?
To see both positions of the pieces at the same time, click here.

How about the disappearing and reappearing square?

Note: The grid is square and true and the differently colored pieces
don't change shape or size as they move. How can this be?

The pieces don't change shape or size:  This is IMPOSSIBLE!
BTW, if you figure out either the disappearing and reappearing
woman or square, it won't help you figure out the other one ;-)
The Magic Triangle with pieces in the starting and final positions:  This is IMPOSSIBLE!

And here's The Impossible Box from Jerry Andrus
(along with his Amazing Brass Nuts)

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If the video above fails to play, left-click here; to download, right-click.

Speaking of brains, here's the Bouncing Brain illusion
(by Thorsten Hansen, Kai Hamburger, & Karl R. Gegenfurtner).
Focus on any one brain to see that they are not really moving.
The Bouncing Brain Illusion by Thorsten Hansen, Kai Hamburger, & Karl R. Gegenfurtner

And here's a good version of those pesky black dots that keep
appearing within the white spaces at the corners of the squares.

[Focus on any one white space; no black dot will appear there.]
Those annoying black dots that keep appearing and disappearing in the corners.

The Point of All This Optical Illusion Talk

The "lesson" of optical illusions and magic tricks is that things "out there" are never the way they appear to be in our minds; the difference becomes stark and obvious when we are looking at things that don't jibe with other sources of information, i.e., illusions and tricks. We also become aware of the difference between our usual sensual apprehension of the world and what is "out there" when we look at other uncanny phenomena. Rainbows that move through the sky as we move, and whose ends can never be reached. Magnets that jump toward or away from each other or make bits of metal defy gravity and seem to have a will of their own. Invisible electricity (whatever that is) that we are told exists and that travels through wires and sometimes produces sparks—which we do see or feel—as well as producing myriad phenomena that transform our lives. An invisible force called "gravity" (whatever that may be) that somehow seems to make everything "want" to stay close to the ground. Not to mention the strong and the weak nuclear forces that hold our world together, though nobody has every seen or felt them.

All of these "uncanny" phenomena—whether optical illusions or the mysteries of attraction over a distance (nuclear forces, magnetism, gravity)—all suggest that our normal sense of the world (as adaptive and functional as it tends to be), does not provide the whole story. Mysteries abound and, despite the tremendous advances in science, we still actually understand and know little about the essential nature of Whatever-Really-Is-Out-There (WRIOT). Clearly, something more is going on "out there." What we perceive in our minds is only an incomplete story or scene we construct from WRIOT.

The spokes are NOT rotating!

[If they don't appear to be rotating, refresh or reload the
page. Click the image for another version of the illusion.]

The Rotating Spokes optical illusion.

There are two ways to know the spokes aren't rotating. First, blink your eyes until they are "rotating" in the other direction. If they were really rotating you shouldn't be able to do that ;-) Second, take our word for it that the animation is composed of the two frames below, repeated over and over again.

The second frame is what you would expect to see if the spokes were rotating, either way. We then return to the first image, but your mind decides that something "out there" was moving and so it interprets it as further movement into the expected position based on its initial assumption of either clockwise or counterclockwise movement. And this is repeated.

The two frames of the Rotating Spokes optical illusion.

And Watch Your Mind Generate the Illusion of
a 3D Object When We Tweak a 2D Image.

Watch as your mind uses mere hints and suggestions to generate the illusion of a 3D object from a 2D image.

Nothing Is Rotating Below. Or Is It?

All the dots are moving in straight lines. There is no rotation
around an ovular path and no rotation of ovals around the
center. But the ovals are definitely rotating, aren't they?
Dots move in straight lines but create unmistakable circular motion.  Or do they?

Each dot moves back and forth along a straight,
white line segment. The wagon wheel never rotates.
The wave moves. But the particles composing the wave
repeatedly oscillate in the same place over and over again.
Each dot moves back and forth along a straight, white line segment.  The wagon wheel never rotates.  The wave moves but the particles composing the wave simply oscillate in the same place over and over again.

Yo: The Path to Truth

It's interesting that the illusory motion in this
image is minimized, i.e., one can see Reality clearer, 
when one concentrates on Yo in the very center ;-)
Motion Illusion

Careful! This one can make you seasick!

You have to click & enlarge this one to see its full effect.
Again, it's interesting that the illusory motion
is minimized, i.e., one can see Reality clearer, 
when one concentrates on the m in
Waving Dots Motion Illusion.  Click the image to see the effect.  Warning!  It can actually make some people dizzy!

Here's another Acidic Worldview.

And here's the Amazing Magic Yo.

Smoothly rotating or pulsating?

To see an interesting, new illusion, click the image below.

Is the rotating shape pulsating or moving smoothly?  Click me to see.

Strangely Painted Rooms

And the act of constructing reality out of WRIOT includes everything
we experience, including our most basic social values and even our religious beliefs.

If video fails to play, left-click here; to download, right click.

Here are some more uncanny ways our minds
misconstruct and misconstrue reality.

We have no problem understanding that evolution did not "design" us (select us) for the ability to know WRIOT completely and perfectly. We were designed to know what we needed to know to survive and reproduce. Given that those leading the charge toward understanding more and more about WRIOT (e.g., Relativity Theorists, Quantum Physicists, and String Theorists) are some of the least successful at survival and reproduction (the latter especially), there appears to have been relatively little selective pressure "to know" WRIOT (in a metaphoric Biblical sense, i.e., in a profoundly intimate way).

Rather, those who are adept at "knowing" (in the traditional Biblical sense, i.e., good at gaining reproductive access to the opposite sex) seem to have minds that are focused on very different features of existence (attaining power or status, accumulating wealth, being attractive, getting access to the opposite sex, in addition to basic survival skills, etc.). And we are well designed to know what we need to know to accomplish those tasks. But we are not well designed to know the truth about WRIOT. As the poet, Bob Dylan, put it (possibly talking to our leading mental giants in the field of physics about the human condition, especially as they experienced it in young adulthood):

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Beyond Incompleteness: "There's a WRIOT Going On Out There!"

However, the essential point here goes way beyond the obvious fact that our mental construction of the world is an incomplete picture. Rather, it is precisely because we have "uncanny" (i.e., inexplicable, weird, and contradictory) experiences and because the cutting edge of scientific investigation of WRIOT leads us to paradoxical, contradictory, impossible conclusions—i.e., conclusions that can not be as they appear to be—that we can be sure that our mental constructions are not WRIOT. Indeed, quantum physics has shown us that the world cannot make sense to minds evolved to function in the midworld of our terrestrial experience (as opposed to the macroworld of intergalactic distances or the microworld of subatomic particles/strings/forces).

Our experiences do point to something that is going on "out there," but the essence of WRIOT is something we do not and cannot know directly. Using our senses and our reason, we do perceive its effects or manifestations and we can discern certain patterns in these effects. But all of that—i.e., our experiences and our understandings about our experiences—exists in our minds. Something is out there that our scientists label "forces," "sub-atomic particles," or "strings." And these labels and notions that we do experience refer to invisible, i.e., unexperienced, phenomena that interact in lawful ways to produce the world of human experience in our minds. Indeed, where else could "our experiences" exist? (Another vivid illustration of the fact that the universe, as we know it, must be a construction in our minds, is presented here).

Outside of your mind, nothing like your experience of the world exists (except, apparently, in other minds). Nobody would claim that WRIOT—i.e., strings, sub-atomic particles, gravity, etc.—is anything like the human experience of actual strings, or tiny billiard balls, or the depressing feeling many of us get when we step on a scale to weigh ourselves (pun intended). You are creating your world in the act of perceiving it. You are the Creator of the Universe you experience.

Quantum physics says goodbye to reality

20 April 2007

Some physicists are uncomfortable with the idea that all individual quantum events are innately random. This is why many have proposed more complete theories, which suggest that events are at least partially governed by extra "hidden variables". Now physicists from Austria claim to have performed an experiment that rules out a broad class of hidden-variables theories that focus on realism -- giving the uneasy consequence that reality does not exist when we are not observing it (Nature 446 871).

Some 40 years ago the physicist John Bell predicted that many hidden-variables theories would be ruled out if a certain experimental inequality were violated – known as "Bell's inequality". In his thought experiment, a source fires entangled pairs of linearly-polarized photons in opposite directions towards two polarizers, which can be changed in orientation. Quantum mechanics says that there should be a high correlation between results at the polarizers because the photons instantaneously "decide" together which polarization to assume at the moment of measurement, even though they are separated in space. Hidden variables, however, says that such instantaneous decisions are not necessary, because the same strong correlation could be achieved if the photons were somehow informed of the orientation of the polarizers beforehand.

Bell's trick, therefore, was to decide how to orient the polarizers only after the photons have left the source. If hidden variables did exist, they would be unable to know the orientation, and so the results would only be correlated half of the time. On the other hand, if quantum mechanics was right, the results would be much more correlated – in other words, Bell's inequality would be violated.

Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell's inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell's inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.

Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.

They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell's thought experiment, Leggett's inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we're not observing it. "Our study shows that 'just' giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics," Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. "You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism."

However, Alain Aspect, a physicist who performed the first Bell-type experiment in the 1980s, thinks the team's philosophical conclusions are subjective. "There are other types of non-local models that are not addressed by either Leggett's inequalities or the experiment," he said. "But I rather share the view that such debates, and accompanying experiments such as those by [the Austrian team], allow us to look deeper into the mysteries of quantum mechanics."

About the author
Jon Cartwright is a reporter for Physics Web.

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Entheogenic Mysticism in the Matrix

When you take away the silly plot theme of The Matrix (that machines are using humans as Duracell batteries), you can find some great mystical messages. Reality is a construct in human minds that is structured by the universal field of matter/time/space (whatever that is made of). This universal field could be called Yo, The Divine Mystery. Or, as in this film clip, it could be called the Matrix.

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If video fails to play left-click here; to download, right-click.

As Robin Williamson and The ISB sang:

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This is the wonder of Yo.

It's you!  Your brain is evoking it all!  Composite animated CATscan of the human brain.

PS (postscript, that is)

If you thought those shading illusions were amazing, here's one that will blow your mind. This one takes the Müller-Lyer Illusion to the extreme. As hard as it is to believe, these elephants are the same size!

The Müller-Lyer Elephant Illusion ;-)


And here's Neo and Trinity in a reverse version
of the old vase illusion: Find the Three Faces.

Here's Another Kind
of Amazing Illusion
The Miracle of Modern Makeup.

And in case you missed it, here's the Amazing Magic Yo.

The Amazing Magic Yo produces powerful visual aberrations on the order of an LSD "trip." Really. No kidding.

It can be so strong, some people may find it to be a bit disturbing, disorienting. With that warning, if you are still interested,

  • click on the link above. Then
  • enlarge the window, and
  • get the "floating Yo" into the center of your screen.
  • With your eyes 12 to 20 inches from the screen, fix your focus carefully on the floating Yo at the very center of the whirling pattern for 10 seconds or more. Then
  • look at some familiar object or scene.
The undulations that you will see in your visual field are very much like LSD visual effects. The major difference is that the aftereffects from this illusion dissipate within 10 - 30 seconds. Imagine what it would be like to walk around with the world undulating like that for hours, non-stop. And if you saw that one already, here are a few truly strange illusions.

Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled
Proofs of The Existence of Yo

The Proof, in The Word, According to Yo

The Proof, in the Yo FAQ