Impossible motion: magnet slopes

A gravity-defying illusion has won the 2010 Best Illusion of the Year Contest, held yesterday in Naples, Florida.

Koukichi Sugihara, from the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences, Japan, developed the illusion, which you can see in the video below. Wooden balls appear to roll up the channels, as if they are pulled by a magnet. We’re fooled by assuming that each supporting column is vertical, and that the longest column in the center is the tallest.

This is is similar to the Adelbert Ames’s illusions, such as the Ames room or Ames window, all of which demonstrate that perception is an interaction of the perceiver with the environment.

The Best Visual illusion of the Year Contest is a celebration of the ingenuity and creativity of the world’s premier visual illusion research community. Contestants from all around the world submitted novel visual illusions (unpublished, or published no earlier than 2009), and an international panel of judges rated them and narrowed them to the TOP TEN. At the Contest Gala in the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the top ten illusionists presented their creations and the attendees of the event voted to pick the TOP THREE WINNERS! via Results of the 2010 Contest now announced!

The other finalists are all worth watching, too.

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