Spinning Arrow Illusion Gives Deep Insight into Perception

Kokichi Sugihara, the master illusionist and mathematics professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan, is at it again with an illusion that would make Gob from Arrested Development leap out of a freakin’ window. It’s an arrow that both spins and doesn’t spin simultaneously, and reveals some literally unthinkable shortcomings in the way we perceive the world around us.

Right Pointing Arrow: spin this arrow 180 degrees and it still points to the right- only in a mirror will it point left (and only to the left). Another incredible ambiguous object illusion by mathematician Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan, the inventor of this illusion and art form. A clever combination of reflection, perspective, and viewing angle produce this striking illusion. ➡ Follow the link in my profile for info about where to get this illusion arrow and other amazing items featured here on @physicsfun #illusion #ambiguouscylinderillusion #ambiguouscylinder #geometry #mirrorreflection #physics #ambiguousobject #kokichisugihara #physicstoy #math #mathtoy #mathstoy #optics #opticalillusion #3dprinting #perspective #science #scienceisawesome

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Sploid picked up on the little head-scratching arrow, which was posted to Instagram by physicsfun, and then reposted to reddit. And although it may seem like straight-up Melisandre magic from Game of Thrones at first, there is a mind-blowing geometrical reason for why this arrow cannot be turned.

Sugihara, who’s dedicated his life to mathematics and career to “the application of geometry to the engineering sciences,” has basically been developing a way for computers to take drawn 2D diagrams and turn them into 3D objects. This is essential for machine vision, which is key for mapping terrain and environment…which is crucial for everything from self-driving cars to robots.

Even more wild images created by Sugihara. Video: YouTube/ The Illusion Contest 

During his research into machine vision, Sugihara did something innovative: he tried to have a computer recreate a 2D drawing of an optical illusion–you know, like these, which really bend the ol’ human brain. But instead of being brain-bended by the illusion, the computer simply created the 3D object, which Sugihara says could never have been imagined as possible with human visual perception systems.

This means the machines are making new shapes we literally can’t conceive of by bypassing our normal assumptions about reality. And when you look at that non-spinning/spinning arrow, you’re looking at a real-life manifestation of an object that has been designed by a computer based on a 2D optical illusion. An object we couldn’t have ever thought of without computers.

How much does your brain hurt right now? What kinds of crazy inconceivable objects do you think machines are going to create next? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image: physicsfun, Fox

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