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Optical Illusions That Have Taken the Interweb by Storm

Posted on February 21st, 2017

Our favourite time killing friend, the internet, has given us many distractions to help us pass the time. But none are quite as compelling as attempting to solve visual optical illusions, which are now readily available thanks to the magic of social media taking them viral. Here are a few that caught our eye as of late.

Hidden textures

Albert vs Marilyn

Look closely at the above image. What do you see? If you're like most people, you probably see a slightly blurry-looking image of Albert Einstein. If, on the other hand, you see Marilyn Monroe, it may be time to visit your optometrist for an eye exam.

At a normal viewing distance, healthy eyes should be able to pick out the details and lines on Albert’s face. Struggling eyes, however, will not be able to make out the details and instead will see the Marilyn Monroe image underneath. You can replicate this process by moving further away from the image until you can see the blonde bombshell appear.

This unique optical illusion was created several years ago by neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who spent over a decade creating hybrid images to demonstrate how images can be hidden with textures and various objects. “Marilyn Einstein” was created by superimposing a blurry picture of Marilyn Monroe over a picture of Albert Einstein that was drawn with fine lines.

The Moiré effect

Shirt Before




A girl’s bathroom selfie confused the internet over the holidays after Twitter users spotted her top created a strange optical illusion.

Californian Madeline Ochoa posted the mirror selfie on December 29, and the image went viral after her followers noticed the pattern on her top appeared to change depending on how it was viewed. At first, her shirt looks mainly grey. But, when mobile phone users began zooming in on the photo, the stripes on her shirt would appear to change the direction in the pattern.

This type of illusion is known as the Moiré effect. When a set of lines or dots is superimposed on top of another set of lines or dots, and they differ in size, angle, or spacing, an optical illusion can be observed. It’s most obvious when the two layered patterns are not completely identical. Moiré patterns appear in many different situations, including in printing, television, and digital photography.

Find my phone


Can you spot the cellphone hidden in this picture? The image went viral after Philippines-based Facebook user Jeya May Cruz shared it publicly.


The ability to rapidly search for a targeted object on a pattern has been studied extensively. What’s interesting is that we use peripheral vision to help scan an area for an object, and that certain neurons are better at picking out colours while others are better at picking out shapes. Your brain tells you where your eyes should move systematically to locate an object. 

Mini Me?


The distorted room concept was first conceived by Hermann Helmholtz in the 19th century. By looking into the room from a specific angle, you don’t notice that the ceiling on the right-hand side is significantly shorter than that on the left. Adding to the confusion is that the left-hand side of the room is actually twice as far away as the right corner.

The only way to wrap your head around it is by looking at the room from a different angle. This is because your visual system relies partly on past experience with normal cubic rooms to judge the shape of any given room.

If you're seeing Marilyn Monroe or your friends are looking shorter than usual (or are concerned about your vision in any way), book a complete eye exam at an FYidoctors location near you.