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Behold! The Optical Illusion of the Year

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Bumper Jack

Optical illusions are all over the Web. But only one is mind-bending enough to be called the 2011 Best Illusion of the Year. (See, there really are award shows for everything.)

The illusion, which was created by Jordan Suchow, a Harvard University graduate student, and George Alvarez, an assistant professor in Harvard's psychology department, is called "Silencing awareness of change by background motion."

OK, so the name isn't super-catchy, but the effect is quite amazing. A blog from Scientific American helps to explain what's going on. Looking at the white dot in the center of the screen, the dots appear to stop changing color when the ring rotates. But, in reality, they continue to change at the same rate the whole time. "Their spinning motion somehow suppresses the viewer's ability to detect those changes."

You can check out the illusion below. And be sure to check out the rest of the entries over at the contest's official site. Remember what Obi Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker: "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them."

Note: Video originally appeared as part of a paper in Current Biology:

Suchow, J.W. & Alvarez, G.A. (2011). Motion silences awareness of visual change. Current Biology, 21, 140—143

Related: More optical illusions from Yahoo! Games


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