Archive for the 'Science' Category

Illusion Used to Make Writing with Eyesight a Reality

Posted by Editor on July 27th, 2012

As much as we think our eye movements are smooth, they are actually very erratic. Constantly darting all around our surroundings, trying to take in as much as possible.

This makes something like writing with your eyesight extremely difficult. Until now.

A French neuroscientist has harnessed the power of an optical illusion to focus our gaze, therefore allowing for smooth movements. With this breakthrough, writing with only your eyes could be a reality for many disabled people.

It utilizes “reverse phi motion.”

Phi motion is essentially the effect that turns a series of still photos into a movie, but reverse phi motion is a bit weirder. Take a film of a moving white dot then turn the dot in every other frame black, and the film will appear to run backwards – that’s reverse phi in action.

Lorenceau’s system uses a display covered in dots that flick from all-white to all-black. The reverse phi illusion means that moving your eye in any direction while looking at the screen makes it appear as if an on-screen dot is moving in that same direction.

Check out a reverse phi motion demonstration below. What you are seeing is two frames from a documentary, however, because of the change from white to black we assume there is motion. This tricks our eyes into focusing on it.

Every Day Your Brain Deletes 40 Minutes of Your Life

Posted by Editor on July 16th, 2012

It’s called Saccadic eye movement. As explained in this awesome video by YouTuber VSauce, it’s the reason why a clock with a second hand might appear stopped when you’re looking back and forth at it. In short, your brain replaces the blurred milliseconds it takes to look from one thing to another with whatever you see when you stop moving your eyes.

These lost moments in time add up to roughly 40 minutes a day.

It also goes a long way to understanding misdirection and hiding movements in plain sight. As long as magicians can fit all of their dirty work inside those 40 minutes of their spectators.

You See Red, I See Blue: New Study Says Color Perception Not Set, Can Be Changed

Posted by Editor on July 2nd, 2012

blue strawberry.jpg

Our perception of the world around us could be very different than the person next to you.

In extreme cases it could mean the luscious red strawberry could look like a bulbous blueberry to someone else. Even more mind altering, results of new experiments with monkeys suggest that these receptors can be altered, allowing us to see colors we have never seen before and possibly helping reverse blindness.

In work published in the scientific journal ‘Nature’, colour vision scientist Jay Neitz from the University of Washington injected a virus into monkeys’ eyes which enabled them to see red as well as green and yellow.

Remarkably the group of squirrel monkeys were able to make sense of the new information despite their brains not being genetically programmed to respond to red signals.

The result was that just four months later the monkeys could see in full colour for the first time.

As well as allowing colour-blind humans to tell red from green, the innovative technique could restore sight to the blind.

Could color blindness really be a thing of the past? Does it make you wonder how different the world looks outside of your own head? How freaked out are those monkeys right now? Is this basically Pleasantville for them?

Illusion Twists the Neck of Still Subject in Unnatural Ways

Posted by Editor on June 6th, 2012

UPDATE: Our esteemed publisher has rightly pointed out this work has been explored by the great Jerry Andrus and is prominently on display in the house with 999 happy haunts… The Haunted Mansion.

We’ve all gotten the creeps when being made to believe the eyes on a painting are following you while walking across a room. But why is that? Also, can we demonstrate it while Chubby Checkers plays in the background?

Thank you Rutgers University! According to this video, you can see stiff plastic masks as they are slowly moved back and forth, yet seemingly maintain eye contact. Also, the direction we perceive the head shaking in is the opposite in which it’s actually being moved. In fact, when coupled with the body it appears as if the inanimate person is twisting his neck because our brain processes the body moving in one way and the head in another.

Hence, they dubbed this creepy little gem “The Exorcist Illusion”.

Read way more about why this illusion works the way it does at Scientific American.

Science: Without HIs Face, Mac King Fails

Posted by Editor on May 22nd, 2012

mac king apollo robbins science.jpg

A new study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience gives some new insight into why magic is effective, specifically citing a few performance elements you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

For example, the trajectory of Apollo Robbins hands…

One of the studies was initiated by professional magician Apollo Robbins, who believed that audience members directed their attention differently depending on the type of hand motion used. Robbins believed that if he moved his hand in a straight line while performing a trick the audience would focus on the beginning and end points of the motion, but not in between. In contrast, he believed if he moved his hand in a curved motion the audience would follow his hand’s trajectory from beginning to end.

Or Mac King’s lovable face…

They studied a popular coin-vanishing trick, in which King tosses a coin up and down in his right hand before “tossing” it to his left hand, where it subsequently disappears. In reality, the magician only simulates tossing the coin to the left hand, an implied motion that essentially tricks the neurons into responding as they would have if the coin had actually been thrown.

Although we probably didn’t need science to tell us that King and Robbins rule, it might put a kibosh on that mask routine with the big circular arm movements.

New Study Says Majority of People Freely Name 1 of 4 Cards

Posted by Editor on May 10th, 2012

queen of hearts card science study.jpg

When asked to name a card, most people only select four out of the 52 possible options. This according to a new study published in the journal Perception.

Which are they?

…the study found that when asked to name a playing card, most people chose only one of four: the ace, queen or king of hearts, or the ace of spades. Unexpectedly, women chose the king of hearts more than men did, and men chose the queen of hearts more than women. The magician’s trick is to exploit these patterns.

Most of these are fairly well known amongst the magic community. But it’s interesting to see the science back up the common knowledge.

All that being said, it’s probably still safer just to force a card.

How Penn & Teller Helped Create Guitar Hero

Posted by Editor on April 24th, 2012
sensor chair penn teller guitar hero.jpg

Tod Machover, the father of the hyperinstrument whose work directly paved the way for games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band talks about a few early adopters who helped shape the technology.

Penn and Teller had been following Machover’s research and were two of the first to attempt to implement it with a Sensor Chair designed to make music by simply moving your hands.

Tod talks about his creation for P&T in the video below at about the 13:20 mark. If you’d like to skip right there click here.