11 Optical Illusions That Will Blow Your Mind

They say seeing is believing. Or are your eyes playing tricks on you?

An image posted by Tumblr user swiked has been making headlines across the globe. Even celebrities like Taylor Swift are weighing in on the debate on their Twitter accounts.

The photo of the dress can be either interpreted as white and gold or blue and black. How can the dress be seen in pairs of completely contrasting colors? It’s a matter of light and the eyes of the beholder.

Apparently, the dress is an optical illusion. It’s all about luminance, or the amount of light entering your retinas. This is always a combination of how much light is shining on an object and how much light is reflected.

Your brain then makes a determination based on this information of whether it is illuminated and reflecting less light (resulting in a blue and black dress) or whether it is in the shadow and reflecting more light (resulting in a white and gold dress).


Are you among the millions of people trying to solve this dilemma ? Give your eyes something new to feast upon with these optical illusions that will blow your mind.

11 The Leaning Tower Illusion


Which leaning tower is leaning more? If you answered, the one on the right, you are wrong. The photos are, in fact, identical.

Why does the second photo appear to lean farther to the right? When processing 2D images, our brain takes the images from our retinas and creates a third dimension.

With side-by-side photos, the brain processes them as a single image with two receding objects.  Normally, we would expect two towers to appear as though they are opposing each other and converging (leaning into each other) as they rise into the sky.  Because these towers are parallel, the brain expects the second tower to diverge (lean more).

10 The Margaret Thatcher Illusion


In the first set of photos, the faces both look fairly normal, but turn them right side up and the photo on the right is obviously disfigured.

Both sets of photos (top and bottom) are actually identical. This illusion proves that we are better at decoding faces right-side up than upside-down. Scientists believe this is an evolutionary adaptation, as humans walk with their heads held high.

So if your plastic surgery goes wrong, and you want to fool the world, just walk on your hands or hang upside-down from a tree!

9 Rubin Vase Illusion


Is it a vase or two faces? This reversible or ambiguous image created in 1915 by Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin is one of the most famous and basic optical illusions. It shows how your brain can hold two different and equally stable perceptions of the same image.

Focus on the white space, and you will see the vase. Focus on the black background, and you will see the faces looking at each other. Soon you will find you can “flip” back and forth between the two images. Other illusions that use the reversible image include the famous duck-rabbit illusion (See here).

8 The Impossible Triangle


Would you believe that this image is three rows of dice, arranged in the shape of the letter “Z”? This illusion originally created by Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934 demonstrates the brain’s ability (or lack there of) of interpreting three-dimensional objects.

At first glance, it appears that the object is both coming towards you and away from you in a way that is impossible. Generally our brains can transform flat images into 3D representations, but looks can be deceiving in this case.

Want to break the illusion? By covering one-third of the triangle, your brain can resolve the true shape. However, pull your finger back, and you are back where you started. As long as you perceive all three lines meeting, the impossible triangle remains. 

7 The Ponzo Illusion


Which car is the biggest? The correct answer is none of them. These cars are actually all the same size.

Why do they seem to be increasing in size? That is thanks to the Ponzo illusion, created by Italian psychologist Mario Ponzo in 1913 shows the power of parallel lines.

Because we see the parallel lines as converging, we interpret that the objects along these lines become further and further away. Therefore the closer object is perceived as smaller and the more distant object is perceived as larger. 

6 The Ames Room


Would you believe that these are identical twins standing in the same room? From a straight-on view, this looks like a normal cubic room. Actually, the room is shaped like a trapezoid, giving the illusion that objects are growing or shrinking as they move from one corner of the room to another.

This illusion overrides our concept of size constancy, which says that as objects move, they remain the same size. The first room of its kind was constructed by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames Jr. from which it gets its name.

5 The One-Photo Mosaic


This set of four photographs is actually one photograph divided and rearranged into four parts to give the illusion that the object in the top-right picture is traversing the neighboring pictures.

Below is the original image that shatters the illusion.


The image that graces the cover of VLP’s album “Terrain” was photographed and designed by Bela Borsodi, who specializes in still life and creative prospective photography. He tried many different shots and angles before he finally arrived at his finished product.

4 The Spinning Silhouette


Is the girl spinning clockwise or counterclockwise? With the absence of a third dimension, our brains can actually make her spin either way. Since there are no depth cues (like other objects) to give us clues, she could be spinning toward the right or the left. Stare long enough, and you should be able to reverse her direction.

It was once believed that if you saw the dancer spinning clockwise, that you were right brained, and that if you saw the dancer spinning counter-clockwise, that you were left-brained. However, this has since been discredited by psychologists.

Like the Rubin Vase illusion, this is also an example of a reversible image.

3 The Paris Park Illusion


Is it a globe or a park? It’s not such a small world after all.

While this may look like a green three-dimensional globe, but it is actually a flat park. What appears to be a round, small stationary statue or bush sitting in front of you is actually a sizeable park. The large piece of artwork spans about 1500 meters, is 100 meters long and utilizes 1200 meters squared of lawn space.

This piece of art, created in Paris by Parisian artist François Abelanet, is an anamorphosis. This basically means that it is purposely distorted, so that it looks flat an angular from one angle, yet appears in 3D from another angle.

Stand to the side, and you will see a long, flat park with jagged edges. Stand straight on, and you will see a round, 3D object right before your eyes. Now that’s twisted!

2 The Floating Man


If you have been a tourist in a number of global cities, you may have seen people like this seemingly floating in the air. In this case, it is not so much an optical illusion as it is sheer deception.

Do you see the rug that is underneath the man? It is no magic carpet, as one might believe since all illusionists performing this trick seem to use it.

No, this rug is actually used to hide the base of the platform that the performer is sitting on. The performers have no super human strength or power. It is really not any more difficult than sitting on a park bench. What a waste of “airtime”!

1 Adelson’s Checkerboard


Square A and Square B are both the same shade of grey, yet square B looks white and square A looks black. How can this be?

This illusion plays with our brain’s visual system. Because Square B is in the shadow of the cylinder, we assume that it has a shadow and that it is lighter than it appears. The brain also assumes that shadows will cast soft edges, which checker squares do not have. Therefore the brain “ignores” the shadow to determine the true color of the square.

In reality, there is no shadow, resulting in two squares of the same shade, which we can see when the shadow is “broken.”

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