The Illusion Only Some Can See

31 dec 2020
3 256 694 visningar

Ames window illusion illustrates how we don't directly perceive external reality. Special Holiday deal! Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get 68% off a 2 year plan plus 4 additional months free. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
Special thanks to:
Prof. Phil Kellman from UCLA Psychology
Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles for the use of their Ames Room
Curiosity Show - Video on Ames Illusion:
Ames, A., Jr. (1951). Visual perception and the rotating trapezoidal window. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 65(7), i-32.
Marcel de Heer & Thomas V. Papathomas (2017) The Ames Window Illusion and Its Variations
Oross, Stephen, Francis, Ellie, Mauk, Deborah & Fox, Robert. (1987). The Ames Window Illusion: Perception of Illusory Motion by Human Infants. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 13(4), 609-613.
Behrens, R. (1987). The Life and Unusual Ideas of Adelbert Ames, Jr. Leonardo, 20(3), 273-279. doi:10.2307/1578173
Burnham, C., & Ono, H. (1969). Variables Altering Perception of the Rotating Trapezoidal Illusion. The American Journal of Psychology, 82(1), 86-95. doi:10.2307/1420609
Allport, G. W., & Pettigrew, T. F. (1957). Cultural influence on the perception of movement: The trapezoidal illusion among Zulus. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55(1), 104-113.
Zenhausern R. Effect of Perspective on Two Trapezoid Illusions. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1969;28(3):1003-1009. doi:10.2466/pms.1969.28.3.1003
Gehringer, W. L., & Engel, E. (1986). Effect of ecological viewing conditions on the Ames' distorted room illusion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 12(2), 181-185.
Long, G.M., Toppino, T.C. Adaptation effects and reversible figures: A comment on Horlitz and O’Leary. Perception & Psychophysics 56, 605-610 (1994).
Gregory RL. Looking through the Ames window. Perception. 2009;38(12):1739-40. doi: 10.1068/p3812ed. PMID: 20192124.
Jahoda, G. (1966). Geometric illusions and environment: A study in Ghana. British Journal of Psychology, 57(1-2), 193-199.
V. Mary Stewart (1974) A Cross-Cultural Test of the “Carpentered World” Hypothesis Using The Ames Distorted Room Illusion, International Journal of Psychology, 9:2, 79-89, DOI: 10.1080/00207597408247094
Margaret Kathleen Cappone (1966) The Effect of Verbal Suggestion on the Reversal Rate of the Ames Trapezoid Illusion, The Journal of Psychology, 62:2, 211-219, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.1966.10543786
Researched and written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Animations, VFX, and Music by Jonny Hyman
Ames Room VFX and additional Ames Window animation by Nicolas Pratt
Additional Music from "Life in Color" "Singularity"
Large Ames window construction by GW Construction
Video supplied by Getty Images

  • The illusion work then didn't for me

    One Random VideoOne Random Video21 minut sedan
  • It's wetware hacking! But when you (asymmetric human) were on it, the illusion broke. The ruler is still symmetric. Your feet and your head transposed break the "symmetry" of the twist/oscillation

    Robin NewbroughRobin Newbrough43 minuter sedan
  • omg when the ruler was in the middle i actually saw it go around in a circle

    BluBlu45 minuter sedan
  • I actually don't see the illusion at all? To me it's a trapezoid rotating. I saw the deheer circle oscillate once, but then it went back to rotating.

    Metrion77Metrion77Timme sedan
  • The hungry conifer globally x-ray because fire metabolically permit of a tacit leo. loose, gabby flame

    Rishaan AgRishaan Ag2 timmar sedan
  • You know you've seen too many memes when he says in the beginning "I'm going to turn myself into" the first word that came across your mind was "a pickle". I need an appointment with my psychiatrist...

    RunItsTheCatRunItsTheCat2 timmar sedan
  • Halfway through the video my brain started to figure out when the small side is passing in front. It still looks oscillating but is also rotating, somehow.

    CharlieCharlie2 timmar sedan
  • They shouldn't show these things to babies. Messing with their minds.

    mountaingoat1003mountaingoat10032 timmar sedan
  • uhhhhhh wtf

    Robert JonesRobert Jones2 timmar sedan
  • If I want, I can choose to see the rotation rather than oscillation. I can also switch the rotation in my view of the spinning dancer. Maybe I'm just good like that, but maybe it's related to some of my quirks. I'm both dyslexic and fully ambidextrous, so sidedness is far less concrete to me.

    ZombieTexZombieTex3 timmar sedan
  • my brain hurts

    Rerash StationRerash Station3 timmar sedan
  • I wish you gave us a thing we can print and hang in our rooms or something.

    Mr. LittleManMr. LittleMan3 timmar sedan
  • Yeah..big deal. The illusion is created by the fact that the "window" in case has some shadowing which creates the illusion of 3D while we all see this on a 2D computer monitor. If we would have seen this in real life we wouldn't be fooled because that 3D shadowing wouldn't be in line with the 3D image created by our brains using the images provided by our own two eyes. People often forget that what we see on monitors is not reality.

    Norinos NorinelNorinos Norinel3 timmar sedan
  • That's what the banks did with your money

    Wusnae meWusnae me4 timmar sedan
  • My favourite so far

    Ukulele PirateUkulele Pirate4 timmar sedan
  • You along with many other Science GURUS are why we live in a more in-depth time of curiosity, investigations & establishment . Until another comprehends as we as explains, extending your knowledge building upon it, it is a similar realm Math has taken up to Einstein & beyond . Discovery channels ‘ FITTINGLY ‘ representing any science will always inspire the curious one .

    Penny O'FlahertyPenny O'Flaherty4 timmar sedan
  • Spifey be like: Finally I can steal another braincell with this optical illusion >:D

    Grace BurnsGrace Burns5 timmar sedan
  • The rubix cube was crazy but the ruler is NUTS. Just breaks your brain.

    Daniel KingDaniel King5 timmar sedan
  • 4:08 I could see it here but not in the dark

    Genoe MeloeGenoe Meloe6 timmar sedan
  • spinning ball or flat earth

    Goodbye Blue SkyGoodbye Blue Sky7 timmar sedan
  • Am I the only one who saw that the Rubiks cube was impossible to solve?🤣

    Lukas GutLukas Gut8 timmar sedan
  • I appreciate the conclusion of this video. Thanks dude.

    Chris PerryChris Perry9 timmar sedan
  • Good subject. Well made video. Excellent presentation.

    BackSeatHumpBackSeatHump9 timmar sedan
  • “Woah, how is this even possible?!” *picture is spinning* “Whaaatt?!!!”

    Alex KyleAlex Kyle9 timmar sedan
  • I had it. I had it broken. But I can’t do now. But I had to cheat by looking at the tiny edge of the card

    Chris PerryChris Perry9 timmar sedan
  • Recall the Willy Wonka candy factory.

    Brett SBrett S10 timmar sedan
  • If you focus really hard on one corner, you can see through the illusion

    Aziel QuezadaAziel Quezada10 timmar sedan
  • I could immediately tell which of the 2 white faces was an indent and which one was sticking out due to the lighting lol

    Good TimesGood Times10 timmar sedan
  • At first I could only see the illusion, after seeing the ruler revolve a few times i started to see what really happened lol!

    Good TimesGood Times10 timmar sedan
  • There's an Ames room in Citizen Kane - Kane talks to a window in a room, and seems to shrink.

    Vinnie BartilucciVinnie Bartilucci11 timmar sedan
  • WITCH!

    Tom ShalnovTom Shalnov11 timmar sedan
  • If I can focus on what is actually happening I can see it normally.

    Hero_knight USPHero_knight USP13 timmar sedan
  • I managed to see it :O like I'm actually seeing the way it actually works not the illusion

    PablistreamPablistream13 timmar sedan
  • If I try really hard, I can see it rotating, but I normally see it oscillating

    Oliver HillOliver Hill16 timmar sedan
  • I see it rotating actually even if I live in las Los Angeles

    Nihar PatwardhanNihar Patwardhan17 timmar sedan
  • "A Little more humility, and a little less certainty" an eternal quote.

    Wael TawfikWael Tawfik19 timmar sedan
  • omg omg... the curiosity show! the tv show that inspired me to follow science and technology as a child! good gravy do i feel old now! :-( the rubics cube ruined the illusion. btw, there is a physical full room size version of this down the road from my place as a council art piece. im pretty sure you can see it on google maps

    David SantiagoDavid Santiago19 timmar sedan
  • I was actually able to bypass this trickery 😼

    ForbiddenJuneForbiddenJune20 timmar sedan
  • Y am I having giddi😂

    Harry PotterHarry Potter21 timme sedan
  • Ok it's kinda awkward when you see it spinning not going back and forth

    Zoë SmithZoë Smith21 timme sedan
  • The loutish polyester bioinformatically file because weed phenotypically ask except a spiteful glue. melodic, annoyed cushion

    Zhu KevinZhu Kevin22 timmar sedan
  • That Ames window is an absolute pain in the brain!

    BRS RCBRS RC22 timmar sedan
  • И русские такие:🗿🗿🗿

    KrizKriz23 timmar sedan
  • Wow. A lot of illusions don't work on me, so I'm kind of glad this one mostly does. (MY brain can _sometimes_ see it rotating correctly. I wonder what this says about my neural wiring.)

    Daggeira O'CinnéideDaggeira O'Cinnéide23 timmar sedan
  • Man my eyes R stoopid. Y R they so stoopid?

    YuuupYuuupDag sedan
  • This video made me motion sick🤢 lol

    S.S. FlukeS.S. FlukeDag sedan
  • life itself is an illusion

    Aryan SinghAryan SinghDag sedan
    • @nineball039 bigger illusion

      Aryan SinghAryan Singh22 timmar sedan
    • What is death?

      nineball039nineball039Dag sedan
  • Here's how you break the illusion. Stand in front of the rotating model, close enough that the big and small edge hit you in the face (without stopping the rotation of the model) at each pass alternately. After a few of those hits, the illusion is gone.

    N NN NDag sedan
    • Or lay down underneath it.

      nineball039nineball039Dag sedan
  • 3:59 is it just me or does this guy kinda look like matpat

    Takis ManTakis ManDag sedan
  • Simply amazing effect!

    Ricardo Álvarez IbarraRicardo Álvarez IbarraDag sedan
  • Fascinating presentation. Skillfully assembled, organized, and summarized. A lot to think about. Suggestions to improve the series: ==> Shave ==> Comb your hair

    Al CohenAl CohenDag sedan
  • Who needs acid when our perception already distorts reality?

    Kurly KaylaKurly KaylaDag sedan
  • when i realized how to see it rotating, i can't see it oscillating anymore

    The PillagerThe PillagerDag sedan
  • if you focus on one of the edges, you could kind of perceive it correctly

    The PillagerThe PillagerDag sedan
  • Clearly Leonardo knew how to give side-eye, you say? Well I for one preferred his side-boobs, but there ya go.

    NabiumNabiumDag sedan
  • it had me at first, as soon as you started to explain i was able to track both swing and rotation by focusing on each object separately. i can also see the illusion alternately with the swing and rotation by changing my focus object... knowing is the trick!!! Great video, liked and subscribed;-)

    thunderstruck!thunderstruck!Dag sedan
  • no wonder we're sssoooooo 'dumb'.... we have not even a brain to help us 😂

    SJ336SJ336Dag sedan
    • But a 5-month old infant does?

      nineball039nineball039Dag sedan
  • I'd like to see the Ames window with different colors. ie: one that is completely solid color, one with different colored sides, one that has gradient color etc .

    Sanguiphilia TVSanguiphilia TVDag sedan
  • really like this Video - THX a lot

    UltralonUltralonDag sedan
  • i see it rotating when u put things through it

    Unstopa JaxUnstopa JaxDag sedan
  • Ernst Mach was right !!

    CatManCatManDag sedan
  • this is sooooo confusing

    Die Wilden DR3IDie Wilden DR3IDag sedan
  • Amazing..

    Komal MishraKomal MishraDag sedan
  • Am I the only one that can sometimes see through the illusion and is still sometimes tricked by this special illusion?

    Mango_Viv333Mango_Viv333Dag sedan
  • I squinted my eyes on this video more than in my whole life

    ZitchTomato OfficialZitchTomato OfficialDag sedan
  • The curiosity Show, i loved it.

    wacky valwacky valDag sedan
  • If you focus on the small part, it will be normal

    Tyler DoPhamTyler DoPhamDag sedan
  • So, you're saying COVID1984 is a hoax? NOW, we're getting somewhere. Open Up and Throw away the face diaper...NOW!

    Mr BrownMr BrownDag sedan
  • Okeyy, i legit got a headache watcn this. hahaha.... Never thought "Real eyes realize real lies" would be so practical hahaha

    F_hD /F_hD /Dag sedan
  • Very interesting video!

    SiriusGDSiriusGDDag sedan
  • Seeing at first sight the illusion trick us but just focus on the lonher side of the window and not in the object surrounded by that window and you will see what's really happening hopee you gets

    Josef BarrientosJosef BarrientosDag sedan
  • I see it normally

    apeqqapeqqDag sedan
  • omg i finaly saw it rotating, and not going back and forth

    Dejan VasicDejan VasicDag sedan
  • Please arabic sub

    Nurshin RashidNurshin RashidDag sedan
  • "From the winnddooowww to the waalllll...Ahhh"

    R. OkolueR. OkolueDag sedan
  • Ames needed to make a trapezoid chair. Much more fun.

    R. OkolueR. OkolueDag sedan
  • 1 eye closed, now all the kids lack depth perception. 6+ minutes in vid.

    R. OkolueR. OkolueDag sedan
  • after trying for 10 times i ca figure it out easily

  • lmao just look at it from the top

    Kelly SmithKelly SmithDag sedan
  • For me the illusion begins to fail the more I see it. At first it worked great but now my eyes focus too much on the small side and it starts to break the illusion. Its like it is fluctuates between rotating and oscillating

    Jared SawtelleJared SawtelleDag sedan
  • Atlast Nord VPN came here 😂😂

    Shaik Awez MehtabShaik Awez MehtabDag sedan
  • I cant watch this. My head hurts now

    Papasquat123Papasquat123Dag sedan
  • I can actually see the whole window rotating but it’s kinda hard I have to concentrate really hard

    Daniel FaabianDaniel FaabianDag sedan
  • I can see the oscillating, but from the start could force myself to also see it rotating (with a few lapses)

    ThePokegeek5000ThePokegeek5000Dag sedan
  • All jokes aside but this guy should use this theory with effects of how acid manipulates our perception in the same way. Hey science guy would you drop acid and compare the results to this theory? and remember its for science but you must record it

    Section AdministratorSection AdministratorDag sedan
  • I can see it both ways I'm just d I f f e r e n t

    synnrsynnrDag sedan
  • The wierd circle one I could swe it turning normaly noot as a ilusian

    MrGamingO_oMrGamingO_oDag sedan
  • Staring at this is potentially the most infuriating thing I've had happen in a long time, just knowing I'm wrong but being unable to ever see what's right.

    One of the 12 Sion MainsOne of the 12 Sion Mains2 dagar sedan
  • Amazing video.

    Peter BPeter B2 dagar sedan
  • Mind blown

    adam ilardiadam ilardi2 dagar sedan
  • watched 20 times still can't teach myself it's turning a full circle. :(

    Never say NeverNever say Never2 dagar sedan
  • I could see it if I just squinted, and after watching it a few times like that, I can see it.

    Princess Sparkle of the ResistancePrincess Sparkle of the Resistance2 dagar sedan
  • So after watching for a bit ...If i look at the smaller corners and have my eyes visualize the path its taking...i can actually follow it spinning.

    Colton VollmerColton Vollmer2 dagar sedan
  • Thank you for that interesting insight

    Allen SmithAllen Smith2 dagar sedan
  • Didn't control for race, poor experiment.

    InsomnantInsomnant2 dagar sedan
  • I would love to make one of those window panes. Where to start?

    Joseph DraganJoseph Dragan2 dagar sedan
  • 9:48 - Voiceover: "Acid".

    iammoulderiammoulder2 dagar sedan
  • this music sounds like music from halo reach

    FireBolt 1062FireBolt 10622 dagar sedan
  • Every time I try to recognize the illusion my brain is like 'NOPE NOPE NOPE THAT'S NOW HOW IT IS'

    Adam GriseAdam Grise2 dagar sedan
  • I know what's happening, but I still can't make my brain adapt to this knowledge. The f$%&@ing window still is oscillating! 🥴

    Dave ChimnyDave Chimny2 dagar sedan