DIY Squaring The Circle


I’ve been having a fun time at home with a DIY squaring the circle project. (Okay, for the 3-D purists, you’re actually turning a cylindrical tube into a rectangular tube.) There are no camera tricks in the image you see above. What you see in the mirror is the actual reflection of the object in the foreground on my desk.

It’s called the Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion, and I’ve actually referenced it on this blog once before, but the fun thing is that you can create your own paper model as I did, by going here and downloading the printable pattern. Just scissors and tape completes it. It’s very easy, and you too will be able to square the circle.

Lincoln Gala


(Click to enlarge)

“Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a Distance of 20 Meters is Transformed into the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko),” 1976 by Salvador Dali.

Gala was Dali’s wife.

Compare the painting hanging on the wall at the Teatro-Museo Dalí to the image in the cellphone. Move the image close to you, then view it far away.

Figueres, Spain


Changing Perspective


As our minds begin to play tricks on us during the ongoing unpleasantness, perhaps we might take solace in realizing that our minds were always playing tricks on us anyway.

Above, the Shepard Table illusion, brought to my attention by Bill Mullins of the Genii forum. The table tops (not the thicknesses, just the top surfaces) are identical parallelograms. If you’re like me, you’ll say, WTF, no way–the horizontal table top has a smaller length and a greater width than the vertical table top.

What’s happening is that the table legs and their angles induce a false sense of perspective, altering our perception of the length and width of the objects. Instead of treating the parallelograms as 2-dimensional objects we are interpreting them as 3-dimensional objects.

When the legs are re-aligned, the distorting effect is lessened:


But again, if you’re anything like me, you’ll nod your head, and think, yeah, but I still don’t really believe they’re the same.

So what your intrepid reporter did (and you can do it too!) is take a screen shot of the initial picture of the two tables up above and print it out.  I cut the picture in two, separating the tables, and then carefully cut out only the tabletop of the horizontal table. I rotated the piece and placed it on top of the vertical table top.

Here’s a video I made of doing that:


It was a perfect duplicate. The situation was the same. Only the perspective had changed.

Quick, block that metaphor!


Fake, Phony, Fraud


(Click to enlarge)

A room in the Palazzo Pitti, a Medici palace,

Florence, Italy

Just about every element above the door level is an illusion:  paint on a flat surface.

There are no balconies;

There are no railings;

There are no statues;

There are no men standing on the balconies on the far left;

There are no curved arches;

There are no three-dimensional decorations on the ceiling.

Paint, paint, paint on a flat surface.

The projection of power and wealth through a magic trick.

The emperor has no clothes.



The Road Not Taken


The picture above is one of my favorite optical illusions because it looks so simple. I don’t remember where I first encountered it, but the question it poses is not complicated: which of the two figures representing roads above are identical?

We’ll give you a bit of space here to consider before we continue




Most people say that the two figures on the left are identical, and the figure on the right is the odd one. But that is incorrect. The two end figures are alike and the middle picture is different. It’s difficult to believe, but I did a little experiment with Photoshop that will help to convince you.

Using Photoshop, I cut the figure on the right, leaving only its outline behind, and moved the figure over to the left, overlapping the leftmost figure. Here’s what it looks like:


You can see that the two figures are identical, and surprisingly even the road division lines line up, something not so apparent in the top picture.

Now let’s try the same thing, only this time we’ll cut the leftmost figure, and let it overlap the middle figure:


You can immediately see that the middle figure does not match the leftmost figure as it appeared to do so in the top picture.

Now that you know what’s going on, go back to the top picture. Does it change your perception? Not mine. It’s one of the most disheartening things to me about optical illusions—even though we know exactly what is going on,  our perceptual apparatus is still fooled.

Magicians like to summarize this kind of realization by the simple statement: “Misdirection works.”

Apply to advertising and propaganda at your leisure. It works even when you know what they are doing.

Not What It Seems


This is a truly amazing optical illusion invented by Kokichi Sugihara.  A seemingly rectangular object has a cylindrical reflection. It really makes it clear how a change in perspective changes what we see. You can find out more about this illusion here.

Thanks to YouTuber The Illusion contest



For those who think they can’t be deceived:

Even when we know what is happening, it is still very difficult to accept that our senses are wrong.

Click on the video above to have your assumptions upended.

Run the video again with your forefinger held horizontally across the border of the two segments to verify it’s not a camera trick.