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Can You Hear the Sound in the Silent Gif of Power Lines Playing Jump Rope?

Can You Hear the Sound in the Silent Gif of Power Lines Playing Jump Rope?

Nearly a decade ago, a British animator made a gif of an electricity pylon playing jump rope with power lines. This fun bit of animation was created by Happy Toast, but it found new life over the weekend when University of Glasgow psychologist Lisa DeBruine went on twitter and asked whether anyone knew why some viewers can hear the sound in the gif even though it is completely silent.

We first found this gif via Laughing Squid, which featured a few possible explanations for the phenomena. Some observers suggested that our brains add the “thump” to the image through either memory triggers or the mind’s ability to fill in the audio gap. However, DeBruine seems to favor the theory that the gif triggers the acoustic reflex, which is an involuntary muscle contraction inside the ear that responds to high intensity sounds. As another user pointed out, the camera shake in the gif may also be producing the “thud” effect. It’s not limited just to this image, as DeBruine demonstrated with a gif from My Neighbor Totoro.

According to Happy Toast, his jump roping power lines gif was made nine years ago and a version of it was broadcast on the BBC3 comedy show, The Wrong Door. Happy Toast also has an extensive library of animations at his official site and his YouTube channel.

Are you able to hear the sound in Happy Toast’s gif? Are you able to hear it if you’re not looking at the gif? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image: HappyToast

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