This illusion will drive you mad

By Phil Plait | November 5, 2010 7:00 am


And if you like that, you’ll love these:

The blue and the green
Square Circle Spiral
Hidden circles illusion
A lunar illusion you’ll flip over
Why does the Moon look so huge on the horizon?

Tip o’ the Necker chief to Buzzfeed.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, illusion

Comments (28)

  1. Mchl

    Hands up people who at first thought it was a mirror!

  2. Shaun
    The McGurk effect as shown on BBC’s Horizon – Is Seeing Believing? Good show on how our senses trick us.

  3. Shawn

    That’s a cool one. I have this lil guy on my desk at work. He makes many folks stop and take a second look.

  4. Wow, after you see what it really is, I couldn’t go back to seeing the illusion, but rather saw what had been revealed to me (if you haven’t seen the vid, I don’t want to spoil it, hence why I am being vague).

    Actually, with conscious effort, I was able to go back to seeing it the way I first saw it. Still, very cool!

  5. Sir Craig

    I’m right there with you Larian: Once that illusion was revealed it totally changed my perspective. Funny thing, though… When I went back and started watching it again, the effect was the exact same as before, right up to the reveal, and then it was destroyed again. That is almost as disconcerting as the illusion itself…

    on edit: I figured out that to get the effect to come back, just look away from the screen for about a second and when you look at it it’s there again.

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Enjoy being sent mad? Wha .. ūüėČ

    Actually, it’s a bit late for that! ūüėČ

  7. Stargazer
  8. John

    Cool! I couldn’t see through the illusion until it was destroyed. After it was “enabled” I could see through it again but lost it after a couple of seconds.
    Replay it and it is like I never saw through it.

  9. Out! Out, ye lying orbs!!!

  10. Yes I am so mad! Actually pretty cool.

    @Mchl, I admit I have to raise my hand. :)

  11. Steven Vallarsa

    I couldn’t see through the illusion until it had been revealed. And then I couldn’t see the illusion after. But I couldn’t see through it again watching it a second time, even though I knew what it was. Totally weird, wild and crazy.

  12. gopher65

    Shawn: That’s awesome:). I want one of those.

  13. Shoeshine Boy

    @12 Gopher65: Ask, and you shall receive:

    ETA: Oops…I’ve been Toseeked. (Made even worse by a moderation delay?)

  14. wagar

    I’m already mad. It drove me to the grocery store.

  15. Bouch

    I think the coolest thing is that before I saw the trick, I couldn’t figure out the relationship between how the background moved and how the box moved. They seemed to be moving in a manner completely unrelated to each other…

  16. Jan from Denmark

    Indeed maddening, the illusion disappears at the end of the movie, but starting again it is there

    Beautiful !

    And I have to make that dragon . . .

  17. Keith (the first one)

    That’s very cool. If I concentrate hard I can see it properly (once I had seen that it’s the inside of the cube*), but it usually just goes back to looking like a box.

    Not maddening though. The green and blue one is because there’s it’s a colour trick, so it doesn’t matter how you look at it.

    *I make no apologies for spoiling the illusion. You shouldn’t be reading the comments before watching the video.

  18. BicycleRepairMan

    Ive made several of this myself, and they are not hard to make excuse me for my european/scientific standard measurments:

    1. using the back of a standard a4-notebook or appropriate 1mm thick paper, draw 3 squares of 5×5 cm next to each other in an L-shape, cut out, but leave a lip in the remainding area of the 10x10cm as a lip.

    Next, measure 1cm in from each corner in all the outer corners, so you end up with something like this, excepth the top and bottom dotted lines should also be skewed like the “/”s


    fold them toghether to make an inverse cube, voila, illusion.

    If you want to draw a pattern, make sure it follows the rules of the cube ie: thicker towards the middle and smaller around the edges

    to make a 2×2 chess/rubix pattern, for example, the inner lines should be ~2.5cm each but slightly favoured towards the “inner” cube so maybe 2.6+ 2.4 cm or something. Good luck

  19. BicycleRepairMan

    eh, that drawing got screwed, let me try

    / |__

    dottedlines = / rotated 90 degrees

  20. Brian L.

    Why does this feel so analogous to my love life? Something that looks like its actually there, but when you look at it from a different perspective, it’s actually not.

  21. So does that mean I really didn’t see Jesus in that piece of burnt toast? Dammit.

  22. Fascinating! Couldn’t figure it out at first–I was just watching the cube “float.” Then when I saw how it was done, I couldn’t see a cube anymore. I saw it for what it really is. Amazing how easily the eyes and brain can be fooled, until we discover what the trick is.

  23. Armithel

    Nope, still pretty calm….

  24. dexter

    the red ribbon adds to the illusion. It makes you think you are looking at the cube from the outside.
    The funny thing is, once the trick is revealed and your perspective changes, you want to go back to watching it the same way…


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar