Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Illusion of the Year Winner: Dynamic Ebbinghaus

The winner of the Best Illusion of the Year contest goes to Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and Ryan E.B. Mruczek of the University of Nevada for an animated version of the Ebbinghaus illusion.

The classic Ebbinghaus is an illusion of relative size perception in which two identical circles are placed near to each other with one surrounded by large circles and the other surrounded by small circles. The size difference between the surrounding circles causes the center circles to appear to be different sizes.


The new version referred to as the Dynamic Ebbinghaus, takes the classic static illusion and turns it into a moving display where the central circle stays the same but the surrounding circles continually grow and shrink.

Here's a video showcasing the development of the illusion.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chess Pieces Illusion

One set of white chess pieces and the other black. The difference is easy to see, right? Well believe it or not, only the background surrounding the two set of pieces is different. The pieces themselves are identical. Yep, that's right. They are exactly the same shades of white and gray.

Here is a nifty video which allows you to see that they are in fact the same.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Aurora Australis From Space

Aurora picture: southern lights seen from space

Cool video of the Aurora Australis created from various images and videos taken from the International Space Station.

NASA ISS : Aurora Australis from space from FullWerks on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is it racist to not want to judge by race?

Last month the Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, upheld a Michigan Constitutional amendment banning the use of race as a factor in college admissions. It was a controversial decision which sparked a great deal of debate among both opponents and supporters of affirmative action.

One of these debates occurred on Fox News Sunday between Jennifer Gratz and Shanta Driver. I had seen the two present their views before and both pretty much stuck to their normal scripts, at least until the very end when Driver dropped a bombshell by saying "this is a racist decision that takes us back to an era of states rights where white majorities can disenfranchise minority communities and now prevent us from getting higher education."

So, if I understand correctly, Driver believes that the members of the Supreme Court who voted to allow the amendment to stand are essentially being racist because they are not in favor of discriminating on the basis of race.

You might think that perhaps Ms. Driver let her emotions get the better of her during the interview and that she doesn't really think that it was a "racist decision"...except that there is a very long quote of her responding to the decision on BAMN (By All Means Necessary) which starts by saying "Today's Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on affirmative action in Michigan is a racist decision."

Jennifer Gratz gave what I thought was a perfect response to Driver's cheap tactics saying "I think it is unbelievable that someone would sit here today and say prohibiting racial discrimination is a racist decision, I think that that tells us where the level of discourse is today. Look, good people can disagree. But we can’t have name-calling and baiting like this.” Couldn't have said it better.