But how does disappearing dots compare with the year’s other viral illusions — of which we’ve had quite a few already? (I mean, it’s no ambiguous cylinders, but it certainly gives brick wall or camouflage phone a run for their respective moneys.) We’ve rounded up the most viral optical illusions of the year thus far, in all their mind-bendy glory. Some are good, some are merely mediocre — but all will improve a dull workday morning (!).
1. Snow Panda
The artist Gergely Dudas posted this illustration of a field of snowmen in December, inviting users to find the panda hidden among them. About 180,000 people have shared it.
2. Red Dot
It looks like a big red circle … until you stare at it for a few minutes. Interestingly, whether you can see through this particular meme might indicate the health of your vision, or at least your color-sensitivity. (… not to get too serious about this or anything.)
3. Train Tracks
In April, a British Twitter user shared a confounding video of his son’s toy train tracks, which appeared to show one track growing and shrinking depending on where he placed it. This is called the Jastrow illusion and has to do with the way the brain interprets curved segments.
4. Brick Wall
This photo of a brick wall has been around since at least 2014, but Facebook users rediscovered it again this spring. There, some 60,000 people have shared “one of the best optical illusions Iv [sic] seen” — click through to read what they’re seeing.
5. Hugging Couple
More than 7.5 million people have viewed this Imgur image of a couple hugging — mostly because their legs look impossibly (painfully?) intertwined. As commenters eventually figured out, the illusion springs from the design on the man’s shorts. Wait for it…
6. Ambiguous Cylinders
This was the runner-up in the Neural Correlate Society’s Best Illusion of the Year Contest. (I know what you’re thinking: Who the heck won first?!) More than 10 million people have watched the confounding YouTube video and a series of explainers that break the illusion down — this one from YouTuber Devin Montes succinctly explains how it works.
7. Hidden Phone
In July, a Facebook user in the Philippines posted a photo of a floral carpet and challenged viewers to find the camouflaged phone placed on it. (That was shared more than 20,000 times, and liked by about 155,000.) A hint: The phone’s patterned case is very similar to that of the rug, but they don’t perfectly match up.
… anyway, in light of all that competition, I’d give disappearing dots roughly an 8 out of 10. It’s not exactly a riveting image, after all, but there is real science behind it! As Kerslake later tweeted, his illustration is a take on the Hermann grid, a classical illusion that’s long been used to study the way the eye processes images.
You can read all about that here (click “view PDF”). Or, you know, you can squint a little — and just retweet it.
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