First of all, tickets for the next Edinburgh Secret Society event will go on sale at 10am today.  But be quick, because we expect to sell out quickly.  Details here.

Second, I haven’t seen this illusion before, and it is great.  When the paper squares are on the screen the lines look like they form a square moving in a circular motion. However, remove them and a very different picture emerges.

Like it?


    1. Merari, Damocles,
      You are being ironic aren’t you – or is it sarcastic – I never know the difference?

  1. Nice idea but nothing really special.
    The ands of the lines fallow a circular pattern. So the lines are movin in a sinusodial pattern. The sinusodial pattern is the same, independent of the direction the ends of the lines have. So if we hide the ends of the lines, there is no way to differentiate between the clock wise or counter clock wise movement of the line ends (especially since it is shown on a screen and not as meachanical system).
    The lines could also change the length randomly. As long as both ends are hidden behind the squares and the position of the line fallows the sinusodial pattern, there is no way to detect this.

  2. Nice. However, you can break the illusion of circular motion once you focus your attention on the ‘back and forth’ motion.

  3. Not a very good one; I was able to see the motion didn’t look quite right almost immediately.

    Also, I’d thank you to stop using YouTube. Throwing up a 2 minute ad before a 1 minute video is just too much.

    1. Did someone have a big bowl of grumpy for breakfast?

      No-one’s forcing you to come here and see all the awesome stuff Richard puts up. How about a bit of civility?

    2. I just stated my observations. You see, people with a scientific bent sometimes appreciate hearing not only when something works well, but also when it doesn’t. That you read “grumpy” into it says more about you than me.

    3. All video platforms suck. Youtube sucks in part because of the video ads. Vimeo sucks because of its resource-hungriness (before my last computer upgrade, it made videos unwatchable half the time). Would be nice if the ideal platform existed, but either it doesn’t or they’re keeping it very, very quiet…

    4. Fair enough, Mr Impossibly (such restraint there, I hope you appreciate that. 😀 ).

      You have to admit, though, that “I’d thank you to stop using YouTube” does sound rather superior.

    5. I should not just *sound* superior to a service that inserts ads twice as long as the content. I think we all *are* superior to that. As Flesh-eating Dragon points out, though, that’s the horrid state of affairs currently (for anyone who refuses to distribute their own videos).

  4. It does look interesting. But, I think it is just our tendency to build patterns, especially if motion is involved.

    It just so happens that if you did place a square moving in a circle and covered the corners, you would see the exact same thing.

    Now, just erase the covered parts, you still see the same pattern. The illusion is then broken when you uncover the corners. The stationary gaps, no longer link the missing corners so the mind notices the two separate motions.

  5. Excellent illusion.

    I always think of your books and illusions like this when people get on their soap box and start going on about something silly and claiming “Random person X saw it with their own eyes”.

    BTW, I learned this weekend from a friend that “Recent earthquakes have tilted the Earth off its axis and now we are closer to the equator.” It’s true. He read it on the internet. I didn’t have the heart to embarrass him among a group of friends, so I just said, “I’ll have to look into that.”

    1. BTW, before someone get’s pedantic, I know there is a kernel of truth to this, but it’s not what he was talking about.

    2. “I always think of your books and illusions like this when people get on their soap box and start going on about something silly and claiming “Random person X saw it with their own eyes”.”

      These visual illusions are cool, but I’m not sure how you are supposed to extrapolate from them. Most real world experiences are much more complex and occur under more complex conditions. For example, consider the case of a group of school children in South Africa claiming to have seen a couple of tightly dressed humainoid figures with big black eyes emerge from a shiny disc shaped object that landed in the back yard of their school. (see here – Which particular illusions do you think may be responsible for these kinds of reports?

    3. Read “Paranormality” by Richard, then we can talk. I also recommend “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Both discuss how our brains deceive us, or maybe more accurately, how our brains interpret the world and how we often do not see what we think we see.

      If you are reading this blog then “Did you see the gorilla?” That’s what I’m talking about.

      Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, yet the world persists in giving great weight to such testimony.

    4. I was actually asking for specific perceptual or cognitive illusions that you think would apply to the example I gave. Responding with an argument based on very general terms just illustrates the problem of how to extrapolate beyond the relatively simple and contextually contrained illusions we are talking about. The only specific example you gave involves inattentional blindness which explains why we *don’t* see what really *is* there! So I’m not sure how you think that is supposed to apply to the Ruwa UFO case. In case you’re not yet convinced that generalities don’t really cut it, I’ll leave you with a set of my own – look how many studies there are showing us how our perceptual and cognitive systems get things right! If they didn’t more or less get things right, they wouldn’t have evolved! I also recommend Vision Science by Stephen Palmer that shows how our brains can represent the outside world in equisite detail etc etc…;)

    5. So, you really want to discuss this African alien thing?

      Well, since I have not been there and am not willing to fly half way around the world and interview the witnesses myself, what can I say?

      I can make general statements based on similar stories from the past. Inevitably, when a story like this pops up, it doesn’t hold up to honest investigation. Initially reported “facts” are found to be inaccurate when scrutinized. The initial reporters were often sloppy or intentionally misleading. Witness testimonies are often found to have been influenced by those around them. Children are especially susceptible to this when they feel adults are looking for specific responses.

      Finally, there is always the case of an intentional fraud/hoax perpetrated by some of the witnesses or an outside party. Crop circles are a perfect example. People still claim they must be real even after the hoaxers admitted to it and even showed how they did it.

      None of this may apply here, but I’d be willing to wager a large sum of money that it is more likely than actual aliens stopping by a school house for a glass of milk before nap time.

  6. I was looking at the screen for a minute before pressing play thinking something was strange. Seemed more to do with the colours of blue (aka white) and yellow where my focus was until the sheet was lifted after which I could see both movements easily. Quite nice and gentle.

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