Last week I staged another battle of the clever stuff, and put the floating square illusion against the squares/circle optical illusion. The squares illusion won by a narrow margin so it stays on. This week it is up against a wonderful illusion by Anthony Norcia. Have a look at them both….here is the floating square illusion again….
acswampplasticand here is the new contender….


Most people initially see just rectangles that look like door panels, and after a bit do the 16 circles emerge.

Vote now and feel free to explain your decision.


  1. For some reason, every time I look at the “emerging circles” illusion, the four on the right are immediately apparent. I see 3 columns of rectangles and one of circles. And then I shift my gaze and see the other circles.

    So pleased to see that illusion made it into the Battle! 😉

    1. Me too. I suspect that the “missing” column might be falling on the blind spot and so the brain, as it does in such circumstances, fills in what it thinks should be there i.e., the panels.

      By carefully shifting my gaze I can make different groups of circles pop in and out of the image. And if I focus slightly past the image (like with those 3D images that were popular a few years back) I easily see all 16.

    2. I have the same response to it – first the circles in the fourth column appear, then the first two columns and finally the third column. Before my brain twigged to the small circles, I was seeing four larger, white, overlapping circles in third column.

    3. Amazing – the circles on the right column ‘appear’ first, indeed…

      Any idea WHY is that so?

    4. As a matter of fact, forget it.

      I figured out myself – it pertains to the contrast of the various elements, especially the horizontal lines against the vertical ones.


  2. Same here: the four right “circles” are immediate, with the top one giving the strongest “circle” impression, then the others kind of cascade from top right to bottom left. Cool! (Different sides of the brain, huh?)

  3. Professor Wiseman, you’ve been holding out on us. Emerging circles is hands down my favorite illusion to weigh into the battle thus far!

    Interestingly, they circles appear to me in a particular order. Column 4, then 1&2 a moment later. Column 3 appears to be quite shy and takes some few seconds to make its appearance.

    We should all vote for the emerging circles illusion if only to give Column 3’s self-esteem a much needed boost.

  4. I’m not seeing any of the circles. I’m wondering if this is one of those illusions that require binocular vision (I’m blind in one eye) so I can’t see it. There are a number of illusions I’ve never been able to see, magic eye images for example.

    1. Covering one eye with a hand to simulate blindness in one eye, I can still see the circles. It’s a little bit more difficult, but they are apparent.

      Of course, I had the benefit of seeing the illusion with binocular vision first, so I knew what I was looking for in my monocular viewing trial.

    2. i am also blind in 1 eye, lost it when i was 5, however this i can see quite easily, but never have i seen the optical illusion stuff where your looking at an image of dolphins swimming and your being asked if you see the stampead of elephants…i’ve tried very hard but no dice…for what its worth i saw the row on the far right first, i also

  5. I actually had to find an element that had 15 other similar elements, as soon as I found those elements I was able to see the circles. So in other words once I realized that there were 16 in between the square areas, bam, the circles came visible to me. Before that.. I just couldn’t see them 🙂

    1. I’m with you.. I saw them right away thinking it was normal and seeing all these responses of it taking forever to see them all makes me feel abnormal lol

  6. I could only see the circles when i clicked on the image and saw it in large format so my choice still goes to first illusion where the effect is much more visible.

  7. I actually jumped a little when the circles appeared! Definitely my favorite so far. And I, too, saw the fourth column first. I suppose it has to do with being “left-brained”? Do left-handed people see the left side first?

  8. as for seeing the four circles on the right immediately: i don’t know if it’s been said before, but maybe it’s because of the combination of the shades of grey? compared to the other columns they appear quite “balanced” rather than sorted in a specific angle of the areas. the darkest lines – or what seem to be the darkest ones – are in the middle, fading to the outside. maybe that encourages figural vision.

    just a guess, i’m far from being able to validate that with quality studies.

  9. A screen is the ideal vehicle for the “moving pattern” illusions – all you have to do is drag the window around a bit, or even just scroll up and down.

    Very nice.

    I also see the circles on the right first. If I look at the center of where any of the circles is, they all pop out at once, and disappear as soon as I move my eyes. Except, of course, for the four on the right.

    Each of the 4 columns is slightly different – that may explain why column 4 comes out so quickly for most of us.

    I wonder if some of these illusions might be useful in diagnosing vision faults (either in the eye or in the brain), much like the color-blindness charts do.

  10. I like the floating square illusion, for some reasons I see the floating square is moving to the right and then left simultaneously.

  11. Voted for the floating square because (it’s cool, and) the first thing I saw on the other was 16 circles and spent the next minute or so searching for the ones I had missed. Then I read the text :o(

  12. People with visual problems probably see them rightaway .. if I squeeze my eyes or blur my vision a bit I see them rightaway … gives apparently a whole differerent perspective on he world. Which one is true, huh?
    I myself saw the door first .. then after reading that I should see circles .. I, very obedient brain ‘(I’m so cute .. trust me, I would never harm you, follow you everywhere) I indeed so them emerge .. the lightest part in the door were the last ones to emerge ..
    The floating thiingy .. if you squeeze it goes away . if you are visual not the standard you might not see it perhaps? People with glasses/lenses can test this .. or with a huge dose of alcohol or such in their blood … or erm .. those having socialized a bit too much in the upper section .. or erm … having been stared down by Brown ..

  13. If anyone is having trouble seeing the circles then just try looking for the horizontal lines. For me it works just as easily even with one eye closed. The vertical lines fall into the background.

  14. Enjoying the emerging circles! When I focus on the “x”, have seen all sorts of patterns emerging. Particularly, or most evidently, the horizontally-striped circles floating in front of a field of vertical stripes; then, the opposite: a vertical pattern – like a cut-out shape – floating in front of horizontal stripes; then the middle column and the one next to it part of a variety of designs popping out here and there. I found that when I looked at a smaller the computer screen, the image became tighter, and it was easier to see various patterns.

  15. This has got to be a joke. There are nothing but straight lines in that picture…no curves anywhere; therefore no circles.

    What the heck are you people talking about?


  16. weird some of you cant seethe circles. the ones that popped out first to me are on the right. Try to look slightly above the horizontal lines between two sets of boxes. you want to get that area in a peripheral view rather than look at it straight on. One you see them, they tend to stay.

    I can’t see all 16 at once, only vertical sets of 4 at a time.

  17. I think that the reason the circles in the rightmost column are easiest to see is because of the dark line in the centre of each circle, with no matching dark line running perpendicular. The eye/brain latches on to the contrast, defining it as a boundary, and then proceeds to extend the boundary on either side.

    The horizontal lines in the circles in the other columns are either not as dark, or they meet up with similarly coloured vertical lines, and so the contrasting boundary is not so evident.

    Here’s something else: If I stare at the image long enough and relax, it gos from squares to Squares & circles to circles superimposed on vertical lines. Anyone else get this?

  18. That how many circles illusion is great!

    As the same as many others at first I just could not see them, however I kept changing my focus and first the 4 circles in the right column appeared then shortly thereafter the rest of the circles appeared. Now I cannot go back to seeing the rectangles though. No matter how much I try I cannot see the rectangles for more than a fleeting moment.

  19. I couldn’t see the circles for a couple of minutes, until I tried the out-of-focus trick. I can still see the rectangles alone everywhere but on the right side.

    For those who can’t see the circles, first realize that the circles are not directly on top of the rectangles, but rather between them vertically. Begin by looking at the right column of rectangles, and look for an inner rectangle with dark shading predominantly on the right. Now, look at the top of that inner rectangle. Note carefully how the white shading at the top is curved toward the bottom. Follow that curve up and around to the matching inner rectangle above it (in the next rectangular shape). Do you see the circle yet?

    It also appears that inside the circles all the lines are horizontal, while outside them all the lines are vertical. So find the edges of the regions filled with horizontal lines, and you’ll find the circles.

  20. No problem seeing 16 circles, with one or two eyes.

    However, I’ve worked in television for 34 years, where everything is made up of straight line segments, so I’m probably not a reasonable commenter.

  21. The floating square is immediately apparent to me but the circles took some work! Finally saw the ones on the right and, knowing where the rest must be, pulled them up. Column three was and is the least apparent. I am not sure I would see it at all without the association. My vote goes to the circles.

  22. I saw one, then 16, then an additional 9 for a total of 25. To be fair the additional 9 were partial circles, but easily extrapolated.

  23. I didn’t see any circles for a good 5 minutes. Then i read the comments. After figuring out where the circles should be (between the boxes vertically), all 16 immediately popped out. No left or right bias, they all just came. Now i can switch between them. Amazing how the brain works.

  24. Hi

    It is the emerging circles one for me, definitely.

    BTW, I think the size of the image is also important. When I was squinting into the thumbnail sized version of this, I did not see the circles seen here. I saw a DIFFERENT set of circles horizontally, between the panes.

  25. I see the circles with either eye and both, and after i’ve seen the circles, wherever i focus on my screen i keep seeing them, it’s a cool one

  26. Initially see 3 columns of rectangles and one on the rightmost column of circles, then shift my gaze and see the other circles, but they pop in & out of ‘existence’.

  27. I’m afraid I didn’t get how the ’emerging circle’ one was an illusion until I actually stopped to look for the squares. The circles were apparent immediately to me and, after a few seconds of reading and looking, I noticed the ‘panels’. I find it truly amazing that eyes can be so different, since many comments say that people had a hard time finding the circles. I think they’re almost impossible not to see!

    The floating square was very cool, though. I always love that kind of illusion.

  28. No matter what I did, I couldn’t see any circles at all. I’d wondered about binocular vision myself, since my eyes need significantly different corrections, but closing an eye didn’t make any difference. I wonder if the problem is the visual aberrations I have because of keratoconus. In normal conditions, I can’t notice them, but for close work, it can be a real pain.

  29. I also saw column number 4 first as well. then 1 then 2 then lastly, 3. I saw the circles almost immediately and for awhile couldnt focus my attention enough to see the “door” pattern, but after some deep staring it came back to me! it helps if i defocus my eyes a tad. I might note that even though column 3 was the last one I saw the circles in, it is the column that i find easiest to “interchange” – that is, switch between the circles and the door pattern. How fun!

  30. not just da vinchi infact most majore artists through out history have used this as a codex, the illuminate still do an d you can find this s image used by these famouse people, to form the image of an owl….just reme,ber look away look away…or in this case get a mirror and run it up next to the logo ..ohhh look another owl quit like the letters …QI….place a mirror the same way as the I at 90degres and look into it it forms the owls face again, …

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