Monday, June 24, 2013


Treehotel is certainly not your typical 'cabin in the woods' resort. Located in Harads, near the Lule river in Northern Sweden, Treehotel combines contemporary design with the tranquility of nature. Currently, there are five unique rooms available with plans to build twenty four in total.

Most would agree that Treehotel's spotlight room is the Mirrorcube. Designed by architects Tham & Videgård, this cozy 4x4x4 meter room provides a double bed, small bathroom, living space and rooftop terrace.

Bird's Nest
Covered in branches and sticks, the Bird's Nest, as the name implies, looks like it is home to some enormous  feathered creature. Designed by Inredningsgruppen, the room is 17 square meters and can accommodate up to four guests with a double bed, two bunk beds, small bathroom and living space.

At 24 square feet, the Cabin is the second largest room available at Treehotel. Designed by Cyrén & Cyrén, the Cabin is located at the top of a steep slope which provides for an amazing view. It has a double bed, small bathroom, living space and rooftop deck.

Blue Cone
Designed by SandellSandberg, the Blue Cone is certainly the most traditional room at Treehotel. Based on simplicity and accessibility the 22 square meters room has four beds, separate sleeping loft, bathroom and living room.

The UFO is Treehotel's most recent addition. Creatively designed by Inredningsgruppen to provide an otherworldly experience, it has a double bed, two smaller curved beds, bathroom, and living area. At 30 square meters it is the largest room currently available.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hollow-Face/Rotating Mask Illusions

The Hollow-Face illusion is an optical illusion in which a mask or mould appears as a normal convexed (pushed out) face when in actuality it is concaved (hollow). It is a powerful illusion in that even viewers that consciously know the face is hollow will usually still see it as a normal convex face.

So why does the illusion work? It seems that the common explanation is that our "prior knowledge of the shape of faces dominates perception, even when in conflict with information from binocular disparity".1 Simply stated, our past experiences of the world around us influences what we are currently viewing. Faces are normally convex, so when we see one that is concave, our brain makes an adjustment as to how that information is perceived.

As with most things relating to our brains, it isn't quite as simple as that. Information ambiguity and a "general bias toward convexity" also seem to play a part.2

Friday, June 7, 2013

Brain Teaser 15: Four Girls

A man escapes from jail with help from his girlfriend. Four girls are accused of being the man's girlfriend. His girlfriend is lying. Two girls are innocent and telling the truth. The other girl is the man's sister who is helping the girlfriend lie. Who is the man's sister?

Amanda: "Melinda is his girlfriend."
Vanessa: "Eva is lying."
Eva: "Amanda is lying."
Melinda: "Vanessa is not his sister."

Via Braingle


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ship of Theseus

One of my favorite philosophical ponderings is the paradox known as the ship of Theseus. The oldest known written version of the story was presented as a brief interlude in Plutarch's The Life of Theseus. A much more interesting version was written by Thomas Hobbes.

Basically, Theseus was a Greek hero who did all sorts of great things like slaying the Minotaur and becoming king of Athens. The ship which he had sailed upon (ship A) was preserved by the Athenians for many years. In order to keep the ship in pristine shape, older planks were replaced with new identical parts as needed.  Eventually, no part of the ship had been left unreplaced.  Unbeknownst to the Athenians, the ship repairman had kept every old plank and had been slowly building another ship using these parts. The parts were arranged exactly as they were on the original ship. This ship (ship B) was eventually revealed and docked next to the other.

The questions now posed is, which is the ship of Theseus?

The primary issue here is one of identity. More precisely, it is how identity relates to the passage of time and the degree of change it may bring.

One answer would be to say that ship B is the ship of Theseus since it is composed of all the original parts. This solutions brings up an interesting question. If the identity of the ship relates to it's material parts, then at what point in time did ship A stop being the ship of Theseus? Remember that the parts of ship A were only replaced little by little over the course of many years. With this in mind would we say that ship A stopped being the ship of Theseus after that first single plank was replaced? Most would think not. Say another year passes and ten more planks are replaced. At this point there is still only one ship with eleven old planks sitting in a shed. Wouldn't most people say that ship A is still the ship of Theseus?

Ok, so lets say that ship A is the ship of Theseus. After all, it is the original ship and as we demonstrated above changing a single small part at some point in time shouldn't change it's identity. But this of course forces us to confront the fact that ship A in it's current state is not composed of a single part of the original ship of Theseus.

Of course there is no easy answer to the question but it does force one to think about some pretty deep questions. The following links provide some followup material for those who are interested.

Wikipedia: Identity and Change
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Identity Over Time
NeuroLogica: The Continuity Problem

Monday, June 3, 2013

This way or that?

Which direction is the train moving? Do yo see it coming out of or going into the tunnel? With a little practice you can probably make it change direction at will.