I’ve seen some pretty amazing illusions in my time. I’ve even promoted a few of my own. To this day, for example, there are people around the world who live under the illusion that I have a clue what I’m talking about.
The reason for my ramblings is that I just saw an illusion on the Veritasium YouTube Channel that boggled my brain (where “Veritasium” is a combination of the latin “veritas,” meaning truth, and the common element ending “ium”).
The illusion in question is based on the Ames trapezoid (a.k.a. Ames window), which features a phenomenon that was discovered by American scientist Adelbert Ames, Jr. in 1947. This involves an image that is presented on a flat surface — like a piece of paper, card, or wood — that seems to reflect a rectangular window but is, in fact, a trapezoid.
During the 1960s, the concept of “transactional ambiguity” was studied and promulgated by some psychologists based on the use of the Ames Window, but I’m a little ambiguous about this concept myself. Anyway, take a look at this video and tell me what you think.
As we see, both sides of the surface carry the same image. The surface is hung vertically from a wire or is attached to a vertical mechanically rotating axis so it can rotate around continuously. When the rotation of the window is observed, it appears to momentarily stop and then reverse its direction. It is therefore not perceived to be rotating continuously in one direction but is instead misperceived to be oscillating.
I don’t know about you, but I would love to see a full-size version of this in the real world with my own eyes. I was going to say, “I wonder what my wife will say if I ask to take the garage over for a few days,” but that would be disingenuous of me because I know exactly what she would say. How about you? Are you as amazed by this illusion as is your humble narrator?