Beach or Car Door? Optical Illusion Confuses the Internet

Cool Stories |

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Eye Institute defined an optical illusion as “something that plays tricks on your vision,” relating to the way our brains and eyes work together to see an image, and this new photo of a car door that looks like a stormy beach that has been shared over 1,000 times is trickier than most.

"If you can see a beach, ocean sky, rocks and stars then you are an artist, but it's not a painting its lower part of the car gate which needs to be repaired," user @nxyxm wrote.

Respondents have found it nearly impossible to identify what part of a car is pictured, but @nxyxm did is best to help them out:

"Focus on the dark side you will see the car gate...It's a car door, the sealing panel under it is damaged, the bend in the door gives the illusion of a beach, the sealing panel is damaged and scratched which gives an illusion of water on the edge of a beach," he commented.

When looking at a 2D image, the brain can be tricked since it doesn’t have all the information it needs to make sense of what it’s looking at – things like position, depth, and light. Scientists often use optical illusions to understand how the brain processes images.

The journal JNeurosci published a study recently looking at the Pinna-Brelstaff motion illusion where thick lines arranged into circles appear to rotate when one looks at them while moving their head back and forth.

How Fast Do We See?

Scientists scanned the brains of those who looked at it and found that people processed the still illusion the same way they would a moving object and that in the area of the brain critical for picking up visual motion, there was a processing gap of 15 milliseconds by the neurons. As a result, the non-moving image came alive!

The cartoonist W. E. Hill created another famous illusion in 1915 which continues to confuse those who look at it. The image makes it hard to distinguish whether one is looking at an old or a young woman.

Scientific Reports performed a study to discover if people’s own age biases affected their face perception subconsciously, and the results concluded that they did. Younger people picked out a young woman more often while older participants saw the old woman.

An author of the paper from Flinders, Mike Nicholls, told Newsweek at the time: "We were interested in how individual differences in traits, such as age, cause people to see things differently. The most interesting thing is that this bias seems to be sub-conscious. The image was only shown for half a second and observers were not told that they would have to make a judgement of age."