The Illusion Only Some People Can See

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    Ames window illusion illustrates how we don't directly perceive external reality. Special Holiday deal! Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get 68% off a 2 year plan plus 4 additional months free. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
    Special thanks to:
    Prof. Phil Kellman from UCLA Psychology
    Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles for the use of their Ames Room
    Curiosity Show - Video on Ames Illusion:
    Ames, A., Jr. (1951). Visual perception and the rotating trapezoidal window. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 65(7), i-32.
    Marcel de Heer & Thomas V. Papathomas (2017) The Ames Window Illusion and Its Variations
    Oross, Stephen, Francis, Ellie, Mauk, Deborah & Fox, Robert. (1987). The Ames Window Illusion: Perception of Illusory Motion by Human Infants. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 13(4), 609-613.
    Behrens, R. (1987). The Life and Unusual Ideas of Adelbert Ames, Jr. Leonardo, 20(3), 273-279. doi:10.2307/1578173
    Burnham, C., & Ono, H. (1969). Variables Altering Perception of the Rotating Trapezoidal Illusion. The American Journal of Psychology, 82(1), 86-95. doi:10.2307/1420609
    Allport, G. W., & Pettigrew, T. F. (1957). Cultural influence on the perception of movement: The trapezoidal illusion among Zulus. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55(1), 104-113.
    Zenhausern R. Effect of Perspective on Two Trapezoid Illusions. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1969;28(3):1003-1009. doi:10.2466/pms.1969.28.3.1003
    Gehringer, W. L., & Engel, E. (1986). Effect of ecological viewing conditions on the Ames' distorted room illusion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 12(2), 181-185.
    Long, G.M., Toppino, T.C. Adaptation effects and reversible figures: A comment on Horlitz and O’Leary. Perception & Psychophysics 56, 605-610 (1994).
    Gregory RL. Looking through the Ames window. Perception. 2009;38(12):1739-40. doi: 10.1068/p3812ed. PMID: 20192124.
    Jahoda, G. (1966). Geometric illusions and environment: A study in Ghana. British Journal of Psychology, 57(1-2), 193-199.
    V. Mary Stewart (1974) A Cross-Cultural Test of the “Carpentered World” Hypothesis Using The Ames Distorted Room Illusion, International Journal of Psychology, 9:2, 79-89, DOI: 10.1080/00207597408247094
    Margaret Kathleen Cappone (1966) The Effect of Verbal Suggestion on the Reversal Rate of the Ames Trapezoid Illusion, The Journal of Psychology, 62:2, 211-219, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.1966.10543786
    Researched and written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
    Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
    Animations, VFX, and Music by Jonny Hyman
    Ames Room VFX and additional Ames Window animation by Nicolas Pratt
    Additional Music from "Life in Color" "Singularity"
    Large Ames window construction by GW Construction
    Video supplied by Getty Images

    Julkaistu 4 kuukautta sitten


    1. Mr Charlie Chester

      Why does this guy sound just like mark rober

    2. Jesús Aznar

      Come on, the two faces is not that hard. The darker one obviously doesn't get as much light as the other...

    3. Joseph Madratz

      Your big model doesn’t work

    4. J.J.C.S

      LOL! So simple to explain really! Take mince thrussock night edge champion warp. Divide by 2. See? You're well-combed!

    5. Hezekiah Domowski

      What you said at the end is probably right, but it's worth adding: Humility and certainty are not opposites. You DO want to have humility, but you also want certainty. in the areas where it's possible. You also want knowledge even without certainty (which is probably 99% of human life: knowledge without certainty). What you DON'T want is hubris. You also don't want irrationality or non-sequiturs. The result of discovering optical illusions can't be pure skepticism, if that was true, then you wouldn't know there was an illusion. What it should do is make us realize that we need to observe more, especially from multiple perspectives (and the goal is all perspectives). And when you can't, take note of that and adjust your level of certainty. There's nothing wrong with skepticism and uncertainty, but it's not the goal, it's the motivator to get us to the goal.

    6. Fobian

      After seeing the video to end. I only see it rotating now 😅🔫

    7. Mjolinor Mjolinor

      Strange how the illusion in the room breaks when she looks at you and you look at her my brain sees it for what it is due to the angle of the heads I suppose.

    8. Francesca S

      I did it! But you really have to focus on the very corner.

    9. Ivan Batinic

      The important aspect of this illusion is, as you pointed out, perspective. Everything is bent due to this effect. It is also why the moon never moves across the field of view when driving on a straight length of highway, whereas mountains in the distance do very slightly, and the foreground even faster. We are just traversing the same number of miles on the surface of the moon as we are on its planet, but the moon is so large, we cannot even mark the length of our travel (65 miles) in an hour, because it is zoomed down so small. The interesting parallel here, is the concept of projection. Whereby you get a trapezoid if you have a square framed image projected on a planar surface that is not normal (perpendicular) to the optical axis of the projection (hence trapezoidal adjustment on projectors). Moreover, projection of matrices in mathematics apply here,. Just as your Ames room projects points along the lines of perspective onto a planar surface that is not normal to the z axis of the room, you can see that a cube casts a shadow of several different polygons depending upon the 3D position in space of the cube with respect to the parallel lines of the light from the sun (and again, the sun being nearly a million miles in diameter, is casting its light onto the relatively tiny Earth (8k miles in diameter) such that their radial separation (due to a point source of that diameter) is very small, thus practically parallel light rather than light from a light bulb, which is in contrast, a point source of light, thus with large radii meaning a cone of light emanating from it). So goes the concept of unfolding a 3D object into 2D, like the six squares forming a cross, which can be folded into a 3rd dimension and becoming a cube. Add a dimension to the problem, and 6 cubes become a 3D unfolded version of a 4D object. If you could fold the unfolded 3D tesseract into the 4th dimension, you would have 6 cubes sharing the same 3D space, or, superpositioning through th 4th dimension, If you put a dot on one of the unfolded cube walls, then fold it into the 4th dimension, that dot would exist in one wall of all 6 cubes. That dot would have 6 existences, or instances, yet still be the original singular dot, existing in 6 different places, each simply a different perspective of the same 4D space, but we can only perceive them as being stacked ontop of each other, because we cannot fathom a 4th physical dimension. The Ames window is doing the same thing with a 2D projection of a 3D object, and when you put a 3D object onto that 2D rotating object, then the 3D object offers a 3rd extra dimension for your brain to process, which is why it is clearly rotating around the 2D trapezoidal abnormal perspective 2D object. Effectively, without shading, you lose the 3rd dimension when a 2D drawing of a 3D object is viewed; that is the whole point -- projection loses dimensional information. Shading, though still 2D, can provide the 3rd dimension (Z axis) indirectly, by inserting a new perspective -- a light source, and it works because that light source, exists in a 3rd dimension, and makes the entire picture as projection of that perspective, through the 2D projection of that light source, only by putting dark shadows where the 3rd dimension would cast them, It is indirectly creating a 3rd dimension. Without this, a staircase can be inverted in your mind. So perhaps in the end, we see that perception of reality can be easily clarified if we understand perspectives, and, if only we could fathom the 4th, 5th and other dimensions -- if a 2D object can fool us into believing there is or isn;t a 3rd dimension, then quantum mechanics, double slit experiment, quantum erasure experiment, etc., might all have an obvious answer if the correct dimensional information were filled-in to our perspective. Just a thought,.

    10. Isabelle Keyzer

      when I slow it down, I see it turning

    11. Jragtard

      More humility less certainty. I could enjoy that world. Love your videos.

    12. G Wright

      with the mask idk how but I was able to tell which was concave and which one was not I think I used the shadows to tell because no non concave (I can't remember the real word) object would have so many shadows normally but it took a bit to figure out which was which.

    13. Michael Goodman

      I saw the skull immediately.

    14. Vishwesh N H

      I see it oscillating and rotating both at the same time its wierd

    15. Dave Fellhoelter

      it is a "perspective drawing" rotating, watch the black holes or windows! the point of the Perspective gives it all away!

    16. Gagandeep Singh

      I think am not well, and need some rest.

    17. Yohanathan Downs

      I saw it a couple of times but not going to lie, this one is good

    18. Michael Johnson

      Witchcraft !

    19. K Kundera

      Just stare at the white and totally not focus on the blue.

    20. Jay Ak

      I can see it rotating tho. There's a place to look at.

    21. Gamedroid13

      If I look at the whole window, or somewhere in the middle it oscillates, if I focus on a point at the edge of the large side, it rotates.

    22. TheJezzi

      The ruler in combination with the reflection of the light coming from the side made the rotation visible if you concentrate on the bigger edge. Weird.

    23. Adam Gunn

      very trippy!

    24. gizzy guzzi

      Well. I knew 42 was the answer!

    25. Victor Rutledge

      Now assume that there are physical dimensions we can, but do not, observe. Now you understand why physicists find multiple dimensions, and are trying to figure out where they are. We just DON"T see them, even if we can.

    26. Henry N. White

      So. Breaking the illusion, the small side facing us seem to rotate slower

    27. Henry N. White

      9:54 not that hard

    28. Wassily Kandinsky

      I can see what's going on if 1. I look at a corner of the Window and think that it is moving in a circle and 2. reject the prejudice that the shorter side is always in the background but can move to the foreground. The darker painted faces enhance the illusion because in a 3d window these faces would look differently.

    29. Michael Falciglia

      I thought girls didn't like guys so much shorter than them? 14:38

    30. Maclean Marsh

      Not kidding. First time I saw this illusion was in a fallout 4 loading screen where it can show perk pins.

    31. kyloe

      i see a really wierd mix between them both

    32. 이해영

      What steps should be taken to display and install this in a mathematics museum in Korea?

    33. Livon Diramerian

      There are a lot of mysteries in our universe.

    34. Hacker_Anonymous

      It took me a little time but i finally “developed the skill” to see this rotating normally

    35. Nailjunkie

      Boy, it’s easy to fool our brains.

    36. John Keefe

      I remember when growing up seeing the Ames illusion represented in a book, (love those TIME LIFE books). Over my lifetime I have come to believe that this illusion arises from the evolutionary pressures during human development, to discern the location and distance and directional movement of predators and prey in dim lighting. Many factors play a near simultaneous role in predator prey interactions, but there seems to be a priority of importance. Animals seem to be first oriented to any movement which represents a change in the instantaneous static picture they have of their surroundings. Then they are using static lighting and shapes to discern predators (or prey) to tell them what is present (hence the value of camouflage). The next priority involving more sophisticated brain function and probably later in evolutionary terms would seem to be trying to interpret the intent or meaning of the animals motion. The more primitive yet preeminent need to rely on shape and shade to our survival is demonstrating its evolutionary priority when we are faced with these types of illusion.

    37. Martin Hughes

      This is brilliant!! Thank you!!

    38. Tony OD Morera

      11:13 Now I know how DJI got their start tone lol

    39. Unnat Shaneshwar

      This is the third time I clicked on this video same ?

    40. G Rujan

      Its fuking hard

    41. Jay&Jane Photography

      Watching on a regular LED screen (Not 3D) is the equivalent of watching in person with one eye closed, right?

    42. 4ldo

      ... philosophical, Man ! philosophical !

    43. Epicurean Bard

      It took a LOT of brain power for me to see it rotating. Absolutely fascinating.

    44. Undermanned

      Pay attention to the center of the window and the top edge, the false dimension is really what does it

    45. Danjimaru

      I feel so old when you call the Curiosity Show old. It's my childhood on TV ...and yes it happens to be a long time ago, sigh!

    46. yarub123

      this is so frustrating ahhga;sdhg;oqeukfgop;aishf ;lk

    47. persona2grata

      The trick to seeing thru the illusion is to focus your eyes exclusively on the Rubik's Cube or ruler; ignore and don't look at any other part of the mobile. After a few tries I was able to perceive the full arc. With a little practice that way I could see the movement of the card as well. I had to re-watch the illusion quite a few times to cement it in my mind though, because my brain was frustratingly insistent on relapsing.

    48. Allan Song

      The relief masks reminds me of the minutephysics video on the hill/valley illusion. I turned my screen upside down and I immediately got the right answer.

    49. Cornelius Dr Vanderbilt

      There are Three Dimensions .. Horizon, Vertices and Depth. Most animals, including flies have no Depth at all in their vision. If you approach a fly without shaming your finger, the fly does not perceive that you are getting nearer. Human Brains are still in the process of evolving to perceive depth but not quite. The illusion of a box drawn on a two dimensional paper is coming out and going in. 'Brains Teasers', according to Neil deGrasse Tyson; 'are brains failures.' It is the same Klein's Bottle or Möbius strip

    50. dragonize

      This is what all street maps are like for me. I always expect 4 left turns to return me to the start, but they never do.

    51. LB Abstract Art

      I can see it spin and then sometimes it just "twists". I wonder if it has to do with where you're looking at it like the spinning ballerina illusion

    52. Connor Buckalew

      I can see both oddly enough

    53. Annie Darkhorse

      Wow. That's spacy.

    54. Adrian Carl Virata

      Makes sense to me with the ruler.


      I can see it both ways. I have to focus more to see it spinning though. If I didn't know how it worked, I would think that it was oscillating.

    56. John Doe

      Your house looks pretty big lol and expensive

    57. Antonio Carranza

      3:57 HERE I SAW IT! In that precise second my brain managed to "see" what really was going on and then the illusion is pretty evident.

    58. Martin

      What? ...WHAT? Magic cube O.O

    59. Mojo Jo jo

      Ok that was a good ending. Nice job.

    60. Ian Zhang

      this is so trippy, like i was so confused at first, but once I see it, I can no longer unsee it 0_o

    61. The redReiter

      It took me a lot of views before I figured out how to view it and see the actual motion. LOL. I can't believe, even knowing it's an illusion, how hard it is to "see" it. Great vid. One of your best!

    62. frieda sorber

      I sometimes wonder when I am driving, that my way of imaging 3d space is crucial for others and me being safe, because we all use the same premises. Or not??? This video makes you think.

    63. Orphan Of Orbit

      I can just about focus enough to see it do a full rotation but it's such a tiny moment it's gone before you know it.

    64. James At

      Is it some people or most people?

    65. BlueBoy 1

      I started to be able to see the rotation after he showed the more tear-drop shaped version. Before that I just saw the oscillation every time. Weird

    66. Quinton B

      My asshole puckered from this illusion, what are you doing!?

    67. Ilyanor Castells

      Aaaaaahh it makes me so mad for some reason hahaah

    68. Gabriel210

      Hardly defeated by looking at its upper sharp edge when turns c: , try

    69. Nathan Stienbarger.

      The problem with the faces around the 10 minute mark, is that we don’t need motion due to like him also affecting at how we perceive things. Due to the highlights and shadow difference, I feel like most people could determine the one on the left was the imprint, but again maybe that’s just me

    70. Veremeev Maxim

      Amazing! Wow!

    71. Jaka Yan Suryana

      the information is very helpful, especially for novice vloggers

    72. OrcaBob 27

      This is dumb

    73. ItzRoinkki

      I can’t even see the illusion and it STILL looks trippy when you go inside of the window.

    74. Mewmew Designs

      The window oscillates the circle one was rotating.

    75. Adam Gądek

      I see it rotate only after few minutes

    76. Ronny Perez

      I used to be more confident when I was young, but now I'm full of doubts. I studied computer systems and I don't get why most of my coworkers are so confident. We have lot of issues on our field like bugs, networking issues, file system corruption... everything can happen.

    77. Yee Man

      When you went into the big one I could see it rotating

    78. Ecological Adam

      That is one weird illusion...!

    79. AkiMaster 86

      If you look at one of the corners u can see it going in a curcle

    80. Reuben Matene

      ohhh wow!! I'm an Australian and the curiosity show was just the best show EVER!!

    81. Johan Liebert

      What the heck is that led light panel thing on the wall at 10:40?

    82. Don Jon

      does this relate to ancient architecture? I remember reading somewhere that they had to change angles in their temples to make them look right angled.

    83. D Perl

      What is strange is once I saw it I can't un see it now! I see the actual movement now and cannot see the illusion

    84. The Department of Redundancy Department

      So what is The Curiosity Show? "I'm glad you asked"

    85. LaraD

      I can’t believe you’ve seen The Curiosity Show! Wow, I was young but it was something we all loved.

    86. chrisgame

      shadow is a little important too

    87. Gyzardo The Wizard Lizard

      Ok MOST of the time I see the illusion but sometimes I can force myself to see it for what it is

    88. Jacob Abdo

      I saw it rotating once and now I can't unsee it

    89. failedclown36

      Does it matter whether the rotation of the window is clockwise or counter?

    90. Mariah

      I think my familiarity with art and this illusion has completely broke my ability to see the illusion for more than a few brief seconds. Wild. The giveaway, at least in my opinion, is the middle point of all the illusions. There's enough discrepancy that suddenly the illusion breaks. Thats just my thoughts tho. Super fun and what is even MORE fun is making illusions for yourself like this one!

    91. TE-BO

      I can’t see any windows, just 6 rectangles in a big rectangle

    92. Bruno Batista

      If you look to the bigger top corner of the illusion, which has a decreasing degree, you won't be tricked by this illusion

    93. Caspar Zwart

      I really don’t understand that while you obviously are open to multi-perspective awareness you actually connected with Bill Gates who is leading the biggest scientific fraud in history.

    94. Mike Hunt

      kind of like the people who thought Dementia Joe would make a good president.

    95. bmoregan

      Now I've heard 11:14 I can't stop hearing 3/5 of "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind"

    96. Yui Tachibana

      I think if you only focus on the bigger side of the window, you might be able to break the illusion. It worked for me somehow

    97. Mike Bubeck

      "That is the way my brain interprets this: it clearly prefers the illusion over seeing what's really happening." -> That's deep.

    98. Creeper HP

      It took me 11 Minutes Till my brain wanted to see teh reality

    99. Dhia Uddin

      Am i the only one who can see it rotate normally?😅

    100. Absolute Chazmania

      I figured out a way I can see through the illusion without changing viewpoint and that's changing focus point. still pretty convincing illusion if you focus center mass.