Neat audio illusion explained using that annoying Smashmouth song

Get your game on, go play. (AsapSCIENCE)

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Your perception of this graph is a graph of your perception

Look at the above image. The higher the peaks, the more sensitive your eyes are to contrasts at those frequencies. Ian Goodfellow spotted the image in a scientific paper about spatial frequency analysis and brilliantly observed that "It's like a graph that is made by perceiving the graph itself." Over at Mind Hacks, Tom Stafford explains the science of spatial frequency, the same concept behind the classic "Marilyn Einstein" image below that was created by Aude Oliva in 2007. From Mind Hacks:

Spatial frequency means how often things change in space. High spatial frequency changes means lots of small detail. Spatial frequency is surprisingly important to our visual system – lots of basic features of the visual world, like orientation or motion, are processed first according to which spatial frequency the information is available at...

Spatial frequency is also why, when you’re flying over the ocean, you can see waves which appear not to move. Although your vision is sensitive enough to see the wave, the motion sensitive part of your visual system isn’t as good at the fine spatial frequencies – which creates a natural illusion of static waves.

See Einstein below? Now go a few steps back from your screen and look again:

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Impossible objects, explained

Vsauce3's Jake Roper reveals the wondrous perceptual paradoxes of "impossible objects" from Escher's cube to the Penrose triangle.

(via Laughing Squid)

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The "Slip Chair" looks too unstable to sit in, but isn't

The folks at Snarkitecture collaborated with the Portuguese design firm UVA to create the "Slip Chair", which looks like it's tipping over, but is safe to sit in.

Or so they say! Me, I'd like to see a picture of someone actually sitting in one. But for now I'll take their word, as they write on the UVA site ....

Slip Chair is a wooden chair that appears to be sinking into the ground. As it may seem unusable at first, the wooden frame is even out with a tapered stone and a functional surface for sitting is provided. The apparently opposed elements of the chair are counterbalanced through the monolithic volume of the stone. The chair revolves upon two axes and the suggested unsteadiness of the sliding forms conceals the complete stability of Slip.

(Picture via UVA) Read the rest

Pareidolia knife

What does this DeWalt knife, posted to the "midly interesting" subreddit by turltlecam_son, look like?

a) a chicken b) a unicorn c) a fish d) a knife Read the rest

Amazing floating cube illusion

Jonathan Harris shows you how to draw (and cut) your way to this floating cube illusion. His YouTube channel has many more drawing illusions like it.

Previously in floating cube illusions: cool floating cube illusion. Read the rest

Mesmerized by the rotating crosses

I could watch this all day.

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This LEGO riff on Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait is a great optical illusion

Artist Geoffroy Amelot created this Lego-centric replica of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait. Read the rest

2016's Illusion of the Year will make you cover your screen with fingerprints

The winners in this year's Illusion of the Year contest (previously) are all cool, but it took me a minute to figure out what was going on with the grand prize winner, Mathew T. Harrison and Gideon P. Caplovitz's "Motion Integration Unleashed: New Tricks for an Old Dog." Read the rest

If you can see the baby in this photo you may be more prone to hallucinations or psychosis

Can you spot the baby in this image? Researchers at the Universities of Cardiff and Cambridge found that volunteers who showed early signs of psychosis were much better at recognizing the baby than a group of people who did not have psychosis.

Can't see the baby? Good for you! See the original photo.

[via]

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Audio Illusions

There's more to phonology than just sound. In this video, several audio illusions reveal just how much we hear is influenced by what we see. Read the rest

Audio illusion: understanding gibberish

WHYY's The Pulse radio show visited The Franklin Institute's new exhibition "Your Brain" where chief bioscientist Jayatri Das demonstrated an incredible audio illusion. Read the rest

Illusion of the Year winners

This is the winner of the "2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest;" below is a description and video of the second and third prize winners.

Above:

Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and Ryan E.B. Mruczek University of Nevada Reno, USA, USA The Dynamic Ebbinghaus takes a classic, static size illusion and transforms it into a dynamic, moving display. A central circle, which stays the same size, appears to change size when it is surrounded by a set of circles that grow and shrink over time. Interestingly, this effect is relatively weak when looking directly at a stationary central circle. But if you look away from the central circle or move your eyes, or if the entire stimulus move across the screen, then the illusory effect is surprisingly strong -- at least twice as large as the classic, static Ebbinghaus illusion.

Above:

Mark Vergeer, Stuart Anstis, and Rob van Lier University of Leuven, UC San Diego, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

In this visual illusion one colored image can lead to completely different color impressions. The impression depend on the grey scale transparent image that is presented on top of the colored image. The 2 colored images on the left and the right are exactly the same, constructed from a combination of the color profile of the forrest picture and the Manhattan skyline picture. The grey scale image that is presented on top of this colored image reinforces the colors that are congruent with the the gray scale image and inhibits incongruent colors.

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Phase-shifted torsos and impossibly acrobatic legs: the black-and-white tights dance

By Crom, what sorcery is this? These women with their motley tights have backdoored my brain's habitual human-recognition heuristics and keep fooling my eye into seeing impossible acrobatic half-humans with phase-shifted torsos!

Black and White Tights Dance (with "Tanz" lyrics)

(via IO9) Read the rest

Video of recursive hand illusions

"Screengrab" by Willie Witte. "None of the visuals are computer generated. All the trickery took place literally in front of the camera." Read the rest

The Exploratorium's Sound Uncovered: A science museum in your hand (for free)

This review also appears on Download the Universe, a group blog reviewing the best (and worst, and just "meh") in science-related ebooks and apps.

When I go to science museums, I like to press the buttons. I'm convinced this is a special joy that you just do not grow out of. Hit the button. See something cool happen. Feel the little reward centers of your brain dance the watusi.

But, as a curmudgeonly grown-up, I also often feel like there is something missing from this experience. There have definitely been times when I've had my button-pushing fun and gotten a few yards away from the exhibit before I've had to stop and think, "Wait, did I just learn anything?"

Science museums are chaotic. They're loud. They're usually full of small children. Your brain is pulled in multiple directions by sights, sounds, and the knowledge that there are about 15 people behind you, all waiting for their turn to press the button, too. In fact, research has shown that adults often avoid science museums (and assume those places aren't "for them") precisely because of those factors.

Sound Uncovered is an interactive ebook published by The Exploratorium, the granddaddy of modern science museums. Really more of an app, it's a series of 12 modules that allow you to play with auditory illusions and unfamiliar sounds as you learn about how the human brain interprets what it hears, and how those ear-brain interactions are used for everything from selling cars to making music. Read the rest

Mug appears to be stuck in table

The Treasure Mug is a delightful illusion cup available directly from Japan via Plywood or Amazon JP. (via Spoon & Tamago) Read the rest

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