The Leaning Tower Illusion
Looking at the two pictures above you'll notice that the tower on the right appears to lean more. However, if you take a closer look at the two pictures you might realize that they're the exact same photo. Why does the tower on the right seem to lean more than the tower on the left? The illusion occurs because our visual system processes the two pictures as part of one scene, and our wired brains cause us to perceive the two structures in a way that has been most helpful to make sense of the world. The Leaning Tower of Pisa illusion is a strikingly simple yet favorite example, which was a past winner of the Best Illusion of the Year contest. Nonetheless, you can easily simulate this illusion when viewing side by side identical angled structures. And just in case you’re wondering, the above photo was taken by an MI2er (who didn’t travel to Pisa just for this illusion photo op), but indeed the illusion is easily replicated from any perspective. To see the original photo that won the Best Illusion of the Year contest, click here. To read further about the science behind this visual illusion, click here.
Einstein's Watching You
The first thing you'll notice when entering the front doors of our MI2 offices is a bust of Albert Einstein...who has a bit of a staring problem. Einstein's eyes and head will turn as you walk around the room - nothing can escape his gaze! And, no, there are no robotics involved.
The picture of Einstein's face is actually concave - the face is inverted and protrudes away from you.
The figure shown to the right is an inverted mask of Einstein's head which causes us to see a 3D face that constantly watches you. How is this possible? This optical illusion is known as the "hollow face illusion."
10 Fun Brainteasers
Try this first brainteaser:
"Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?"
Hint: The answer is not "June." Sometimes the answer is right in front of our eyes, but we just don’t see it. At MI2 we love these types of brainteasers because they cause us to reflect on our tendency to see what we expect to see and ignore the obvious answer. These 10 brainteasers are a great way to warm-up attendees prior to a meeting. They’re fun and you’re bound to get some laughs. Click here to go to the brainteasers. Answer to the brainteaser above: Johnny!
A Gorilla in the Midst
You'd notice if an 800 pound gorilla stood in front of your eyes and waved, right? If you’re familiar with this classic video, “The Invisible Gorilla,” posted by Simons and Chabris, then you’re familiar with the concept of “inattentional blindness.”
Inattentional blindness occurs when something unexpected is in plain sight yet we fail to notice it… even something as surprising as a hairy gorilla. This phenomenon is due to the fact that our minds are only able to pay attention to a limited number of stimuli at a time. When our attention span is maxed out, we often fail to notice the unexpected. Everyone is susceptible to inattentional blindness. An experiment at Harvard University Medical School found that 83% of radiologists failed to spot a picture of a dancing gorilla superimposed on CT scans. Radiologists thrive on their ability to intensely focus of medical images, however, this experiment demonstrates that the process of focus and filtering out distractions can cause us to miss seeing the unexpected. Now one question remains, did you see the gorilla that walked across your computer screen? (j/k)
Here’s the famous video, “The Invisible Gorilla”
This illusion actually demonstrates the success of our visual system. Although we’re being fooled by this illusion, our brain is wired to analyze visual information to make the most sense to function. To assess this image, the brain factors in the effect of shadows on luminance and the sharp edges and contrast among neighboring colors and shades. Check out a more detailed explanation by Edward Adelson, Professor of Vision Sciences at MIT, who created this image. See more mind-boggling perception illusions.