Japanese Mathematician Wins Best Illusion Prize

NTDTV Created: May 16, 2010 Last Updated: June 30, 2010
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Japanese mathematician Kokichi Sugihara has won the 2010 “Best Illusion of the Year” contest in Naples, Florida.

The contest promotes research into the science of perception and cognitive responses to visual stimulation.

Kokichi Sugihara's illusion seems to defy gravity.

A series of wooden balls appear to roll upward along a track toward the center of a four-tracked structure where they come to rest. The balls appear to have been pulled upward by a magnet. The observer assumes that the posts supporting the tracks are vertical and that the central collection area is at the highest point of the structure, when in fact the opposite is true.

As the camera revolves around the structure and the viewer's perspective changes, it becomes clear that each track is sloping downward and that the central area is the lowest point of the structure.

The illusion depicts a real structure which was recorded by a video camera. It is not a computer-generated image.

Dr Sugihara's work was described by the multinational panel of judges as, "remarkable in that it is generated by a three-dimensional solid object and physical motion, instead of a two-dimensional picture."

His entry beat nine other finalists from Australia, the Czech Republic, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S.


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