optical header

An optical illusion is something that plays tricks on your vision. Optical illusions teach us how our eyes and brain work together to see. You live in a three-dimensional world, so your brain gets clues about depth, shading, lighting, and position to help you interpret what you see. But when you look at a two-dimensional image, your brain can be fooled because it doesn't get the same clues. Take a look at the optical illusions below. Can you figure them out?

two pencils

Is the pencil on the right bigger than the pencil on the left? Or are they the same size?

optical fish

How many fish do you see?

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optical hat
optical feather

Is the hat taller than it is wide? Use a ruler to find out.

optical vase

Is this a picture of a vase? Or two faces looking at each other? Do you see both?

optical cyclops background
optical cyclops 1
optical cyclops 1 pupil
optical cyclops 2
optical cyclops 2 pupil

Which mouth is bigger? Make your guess and then measure them to find out.

Ask a ScientistLearn more about optical illusions with Dr. McMahon.

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Last updated: June 26, 2019