The Ames room illusion

An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion. Probably influenced by the writings of Hermann Helmholtz, it was invented by American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr. in 1934, and constructed in the following year.

An Ames room is constructed so that from the front it appears to be an ordinary cubic-shaped room, with a back wall and two side walls parallel to each other and perpendicular to the horizontally level floor and ceiling. However, this is a trick of perspective and the true shape of the room is trapezoidal: the walls are slanted and the ceiling and floor are at an incline, and the right corner is much closer to the front-positioned observer than the left corner (or vice versa). (See overhead view diagram)

As a result of the optical illusion, a person standing in one corner appears to the observer to be a giant, while a person standing in the other corner appears to be a dwarf. The illusion is so convincing that a person walking back and forth from the left corner to the right corner appears to grow or shrink.

Studies have shown that the illusion can be created without using walls and a ceiling; it is sufficient to create an apparent horizon (which in reality will not be horizontal) against an appropriate background, and the eye relies on the apparent relative height of an object above that horizon. via Opitical Spy

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One Response to The Ames room illusion

  1. alfy says:

    The Ames room is a fascinating illusion, but the Sc Am clip is a good illustration of how to bore the arse off the public. Did it not occur to the makers to try getting the woman to walk from the left to the right, showing her magically and impossibly growing in size. Memo: They need to use a better-looking chick, with a bigger pair of knockers. She doesn’t need to be a scientist. She just has to remember the lines, or read them off the autocue.

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