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Visual trick or chemical reaction? Liquid illusion will fool your eyes

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One of the downsides of living in the age of computer-generated imagery is that our eyes have been trained to mistrust everything. See an amazing visual effect on film, and you’re likely to assume it was done on a computer -- because it most likely was.

Veteran Youtube illusionist Brusspup’s latest opus illustrates this principle. If you saw this video with no explanation, you’d shrug it off as a simple CGI trick. But when you realize that everything you’re seeing is completely real -- and based on good-old-fashioned chemistry -- it gets a lot more interesting.

So how does it work? It’s based on a well-known phenomenon in chemistry known as the iodine clock reaction. First discovered in 1886, the reaction causes a mixture of colorless liquids to turn black after a short delay.

What gives the illusion its peculiar CGI-like quality is the fluid, seamless way that the entire volume of liquid turns color at the same time. We’re accustomed to think of such reactions occurring piecemeal, with some kind of gradual clouding or bubbling in the liquid. When we see a change in color happen all at once, we think, ‘that’s not natural.’

Except, in this case, it is.

You can watch more of Brusspup’s illusions on his Youtube channel.

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