Posted in biology, design and architecture, education, engineering, Optics

The impossible – in 3D!

Hopefully by now we are all familiar with optical illusions, from M.C. Escher‘s drawings to the impossible triangle. My personal favorite has been the dots that appear at intersections on a grid of squares. Usually these visual illusions are only possible because they are drawn onto a 2D space, and our brain has to translate it into 3D, hence with translation errors and cool effects.

That said, some artists/engineers/architects/lego enthusiasts just couldn’t leave good enough alone, or simply got tired of confusing their brain on a 2D level, and have successfully engineered and re-created some of the world’s most famous optical illusions into 3D optical illusions, or even created a few of their own. This requires some serious dedication and knowledge of space and optics, not to mention creativity and artistic flare.

Scientific American has a slideshow depicting and describing some of this work. My favorite is the motorcycle. I’m also surprised nobody thought of the Lego ones sooner; you can make a Lego guy walk on the ceiling with ease.

Happy Lunar New Year, and year of the Ox!



Beth Kelley is a writer and researcher with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.