If there’s one thing optical illusions make clear, it’s that perception is not always reality – which is why in the case of one viral image, what’s visibly green, red, or blue is actually pink.
In a tweet from David Novick, a Professor of Engineering Education and Leadership, at the University of Texas in El Paso, an image shows seemingly different-colored spheres floating amid streaks of red, blue, and green lines.
But, it reveals a truth much more interesting than our initial perception of the picture lets on.
The orbs, which initially appear to be various different colors, are actually all the same color, according to Novick.
‘A three-color confetti illusion with spheres, which appear to be yellowish, reddish, and purpleish but in fact have exactly the same light-brown base color (RGB 255,188,144),’ he writes in the tweet.
As shown in an image of the spheres sitting in front of the colored lines instead of behind them, each of the circles — the same one sin the previous image — is actually a pale pink, despite what our eyes had initially reported to our brains.
To make the nature of the image even more elusive, the colors of the orbs tend to switch depending on which area of the image one focuses their eyes on.
By diverting your eyes and then returning them, a clearly ‘blue’ sphere might now appear green.
According to an analysis by science writer Phil Plait for SyFy Wire, the illusion, like all other optical illusions, underscores a disconnect between the raw data and the information — data put into context — processed by our brain.
Colors perceived by humans’ vision take into account not just the color of the object one is looking at, but the colors that surround it as well.
In other words, by changing the colors of the stripes the run across the sphere, we are also changing our perception of the sphere itself.
The optical phenomenon is known as the Munker-White illusion and describes the process of the human brain organizing colorful information based on their luminance.
According to optical illusion expert Michael Bach, this type of illusion ‘shows how much the perception of color is influenced by the neighborhood.’
In addition to being generally fascinating, the illusion also highlights how our senses often aren’t sufficient when determining the truth, and joins several popular illusions to recently capture the public’s attention.
Among the most famous examples of the power of sensory illusions are what is commonly referred to as ‘The Dress’ — a piece of clothing that appeared either blue and black of white and gold depending on the observer — and an auditory puzzle known as ‘Yanny and Laurel.’
In the latter, listeners are tasked with discerning whether a voice in an audio recording is uttering ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel.’ Spoiler alert: it’s both.
Per: Daily Mail