HomeScienceThis traffic light isn't red—a mind-boggling optical illusion.

This traffic light isn’t red—a mind-boggling optical illusion.

When approaching a traffic signal while driving, it is crucial to be aware of the color that is shown.

However, this optical illusion may cause you to doubt yourself, as the top light appears red at first glance.

However, when the cyan filter is removed, it is revealed to be grey. Even though your brain has conditioned you to believe otherwise.

The serial illusionist Dean Jackson, or @beatonthebeeb on TikTok, presented this trick and explained how it works.

This traffic light isn't red—a mind-boggling optical illusion.

He stated, “Your brain is working overtime to convince you that the card is red.”

At the rear of the human eye are photoreceptors – cells that respond to the light shining in.

These come in two varieties, “rods” and “cones.” While rods are sensitive to motion and night vision, cones can detect color.

Each of the three types of cone cells in humans is most sensitive to a different color: red, green, or blue.

The color cyan is a mix of green and blue, hence a cyan filter does not permit the transmission of red.

Therefore, when a cyan filter is placed over a red light, the vast majority of it is blocked. And the object should seem dark grey or black.

This traffic light isn’t red

However, if our brain recognizes the image’s context and feels that the object should be red. It will interpret the grey light as red.

This means that when we zoom closer and the image no longer resembles a traffic light. The true color of the image is revealed.

Mr. Jackson illustrates this further by displaying an image of a grey Coke can with cyan filter stripes.

The stripes with the filter seem red for the same reason as above. However, the grey stripes without the filter appear red due to the “color constancy” principle.

This is the phenomenon that permits our eyes and brains to see the same color in various lighting conditions.

This ability can be manipulated to make a color appear different than it is if it is adjacent to another color.

A cyan stripe next to a grey stripe can make the grey appear red in this instance.

In addition, scientists have debunked the optical illusion that makes the series of squares below appear to be moving when they are truly still.

They appear to be moving because your brain is being deceived by a phenomenon known as “illusory motion.”

Our brains interpret a shift in light as motion, thus neighboring boundaries of light and dark, even when static, activate motion-detecting neurons in the visual pathways.

20,000 years ago, prehistoric artists employed natural rock bulges to create the appearance of volume and depth in cave paintings of horses and bison.


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