ILLUSION » Best Illusions Of 2011 awards

Posted at 11:35 AM on Saturday 9 July 2011
Silencing awareness of change by background motion

Play the movie while looking at the small white speck in the center of the ring. At first, the ring is motionless and it’s easy to tell that the dots are changing color. When the ring begins to rotate, the dots suddenly appear to stop changing. But in reality they are changing the entire time. Take a look.

2nr prize
Grouping by Contrast
Erica Dixon, Arthur Shapiro & Kai Hamburger

Luminance levels of four disks modulate in time. The top two disks become white when the bottom two disks become black, and viceversa. When placed against a split background, the disks group together along the diagonals. This grouping pattern follows the contrasts of the disks relative to their backgrounds.

3rd Prize
The Loch Ness Aftereffect
Mark Wexler
Fixate the red point you will see in the center while paying attention to the rotating ring of gray lines

Most observers perceive that the ring of lines rotates slowly, with brief jumps of much faster rotation in the opposite direction. The very fast jumps are illusory. The illusion usually gets stronger after one or two jumps, and seems to be enhanced by paying close attention to the lines in the ring.

The most famous illusion of movement is the motion aftereffect: look at uniform motion for a while, and things will seem to move the other way. It was discovered a long time ago by staring at a waterfall in Scotland, and, though important, is a bit boring: the illusory motion is slower than the real movement that induces it. As it turns out, the Scottish waterfall actually feeds… Loch Ness, and that just under the placid surface of the motion aftereffect lurks a true monster, capable of producing illusory motion a hundred times faster than the inducing movement.
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