Surfing the Net with Kids: Optical Illusions

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Surfing the Net with Kids: Optical Illusions

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Surfing the Net with Kids


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January 21, 2001

Dear Readers,

Welcome back. Today’s Optical Illusions topic is accompanied by the following games:

Optical Illusion Jigsaw
Optical Illusion Scrambler
Optical Illusion

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Optical Illusions

“Seeing is believing.” “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But sometimes our eyes deceive us, and what we see is only what our brain expects to see. Optical illusions are amusing, but they also teach us a lot about how our brain works in conjunction with our eyes to create vision. Are you ready for some fun science?

Encyclozine: Optical Illusions


“The brain takes cues from images received from the eyes to help it interpret what is being seen. Usually this is important for things like depth perception, but occasionally it leads us astray. The cues deceive us into thinking we see something that isn’t true, or isn’t even there. Seeing isn’t always believing – as these optical illusions demonstrate!” Great explanations and a wonderful links section add depth to this site, whose creators describe as a cross between an online encyclopedia and a portal.

Exploratorium Online Exhibits


The fabulous hands-on science museum from San Francisco presents a gallery of thirteen illusions (many powered by Shockwave and QuickTime) to play with and learn from. You’ll find the Café Wall Illusion on other sites as well, but here you get to interact with it and watch the distortion come and go. “The Café Wall Illusion was first described by Dr. Richard Gregory. Dr. Gregory is a good friend of the Exploratorium and director of The Exploratory Hands On Science Museum in Bristol, England. Dr. Gregory observed this curious effect in a pattern of tiles on a café wall in Bristol and has kindly granted us permission to display his picture of this café.”

Illusion Works


“This award-winning collection consists of innumerable interactive demonstrations, up-to-date and reliable scientific explanations, school projects, illusion artwork, interactive puzzles, 3D graphics, suggested reading lists, bibliographies, perception links, and much more. There is literally hours and hours of fun and cool material here!” Although the site promises explanations at both an introductory and advanced level, only the advanced section was available during my visit. My favorite clicks were the numerous interactive illusions.

Magic Eye Image of the Week


Have you ever seen a Magic Eye picture? Nine years ago they ignited a craze and sold more than twenty-five million books between 1992 and 1995. Although the buzz has died down, the Magic Eye company is still around. Once you learn how to focus your eyes, a three-dimensional object will appear floating above the original image. Can’t see it? Help is only a click away – look for the link titled “Need help viewing 3d?” Another fun difference between a printed Magic Eye picture and this online archive, is that clicking on the picture itself reveals the hidden answer.

Sand Lot Science


My very first reaction was “Wow!” and then it got better and better. Sand Lot Science is my pick of the day with over one hundred online exhibits. In addition to dozens of interactive illusions, unique clicks include Do-It-Yourself Projects (“Six easy-to-do optical illusion projects in Adobe PDF format to tempt the curious.”) and a Typography Section. “Here is a familiar word with the top half missing. Can you read the word anyway? Place your mouse over the top half of the word. Now the bottom half goes away. Try to read the word both ways! Which is easier?”

Surfing the Calendar

Chinese New Year
Jan 24, 2001
Australia Day
Jan 26, 2001
Mozart’s Birthday
Jan 27, 1756
National Puzzle Day
Jan 29, 2001

More Calendar

Related Book
(in association with

Can you Believe Your Eyes? Over 250 Illusions and Other Oddities

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Copyright © 2000 Barbara J. Feldman

Surfing the Net with Kids

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