An undisputed classic of the optical illusion world, this picture, entitled ‘My Wife and My Mother-in-Law’ was created by a cartoonist named William Ely Hill and published in Puck magazine back in 1915. Now, a century later, it continues to bamboozle observers. The image has been cleverly drawn to feature two different female figures; one of them is young and elegant, while the other appears old and crone-like. A study has shown that the woman you see first depends on your age. Older people tend to see the older lady, while younger observers spot the young woman first.
The best optical illusions are the most unbelievable ones, and this image falls into that category. Take a look at the squares labeled A and B. Would you say they are the same or different colors? They look entirely different, right? Square A seems much darker than B. However; the reality is that these two squares are the same shade of gray. This illusion shows the power of shadows; with the presence of the cylinder casting a shadow and changing the tones of the squares around B, our brains perceive this square as being much lighter than A.
Here’s another optical illusion that most people will fall for. Take a look at the lines in the middle of this image. Do they seem to be curvy or in a zig-zag pattern? Many people see alternating sets of curvy and zig-zag lines, but the truth is very different! Take a look at the black or white sections in the corners of the image; there, you’ll see that all of the lines are curvy. It’s just the placement of the different shades of gray that makes them appear to form a zig-zag pattern.
Ready to be blown away? Take a look at the image above and stare at it. Try to avoid blinking and put all of your focus on the image. After a few seconds, as if by magic, the various colors of the image will fade away, leaving nothing but a gray background behind. No, you haven’t suddenly developed some unique ability; the truth is that this visual phenomenon, known as the ‘Troxler Effect,’ dates back to the early 19th century and is just a way of our brain reacting to a blurry, unmoving image.
What do you see when you admire this crazy hallway design? The floor seems to shift and shape itself, with a sizeable inward curve on the right-hand side. One could imagine that this floor must be pretty unstable and quite challenging to walk along, but if you actually saw it in real life and stepped out, you’d see it’s flat! This is a unique example of how classic geometric shapes like squares and rectangles can be twisted around at certain angles to create mind-boggling optical effects.
Here’s another optical illusion you won’t believe. Take a look at this image and focus on the circles behind the lines. How many different colors can you count? The circles all seem to be different shades, with most people seeing at least four different colors in total. The image went viral when it was shared by a University of Texas professor named Dr. David Novick, but the Twittersphere was blown away when Novick revealed that all of the circles were the same color! This is called a Munker illusion, which is caused by our brains perceiving certain colors based on the colors around them.
No matter where you look in this image, it seems to be moving. The various circles appear to be rotating around themselves, like cogs in a machine, but the truth is that this isn’t a video or animated gif at all. It’s a perfectly stationary image, but our brains perceive movement due to the intricate patterns of concentric circles and alternating colors. This is called a peripheral drift illusion, and if you focus on one of the circles, you should notice that it stops ‘moving,’ while the others continue; the movement is always occurring in the periphery of your vision.
At first glance, you might not notice anything strange about this picture of a fork, but take a look at the left end and then the right. Notice anything weird? On the left-hand side, we see three distinct prongs of the fork, but on the right, we can only see two sections breaking off from the base. The third prong seems just magically to appear out of nowhere, and no matter how carefully you look, you can never quite figure out where it comes from. This is an exciting example of 3D-style shapes being drawn on a 2D surface.
Here’s another fascinating optical illusion that is almost too crazy to believe. To begin, focus on the image on the left. Note the red and blue lines disappearing behind the gray block, and the black line coming out of the other side. Which line do you think lines up with the black one? It seems to be the blue, but in reality, as we see on the right-hand side, it’s the red line that is perfectly in connection with the black line. This is called the Poggendorff illusion, named after a German scientist.
Here’s an interesting optical illusion that shows how the angle of an image can completely change our perception of the scene. Take a look at the photo. Do you think the cat is going up or down the stairs? Everyone has an opinion, but it’s very hard to tell due to the way the photo has been carefully taken at just the right angle. It’s easy to imagine the photographer at both the top or bottom of the stairs, making it even harder to decipher the truth. This photo was a viral sensation, and it was eventually determined that the cat is going down, not up.