Flashed Face Distortion Effect

If you’ve read my book “The Three Illusions”, you already know that the world we think we see around us is an illusion of the senses. Our eyes take in photons, which are turned into electrical signals, sent to the brain, which then interprets them into what it thinks we are looking at. The brain literally just MAKES IT UP.

But brains aren’t perfect – by a long stretch. Which is why optical illusions are so much fun. And this is one of the best.

The below videos demonstrate what’s known as the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect” — an optical illusion first described last year by University of Queensland researchers Jason Tangen, Sean Murphy and Matthew Thompson.

We describe a novel face distortion effect resulting from the fast-paced presentation of eye-aligned faces. When cycling through the faces on a computer screen, each face seems to become a caricature of itself and some faces appear highly deformed, even grotesque. The degree of distortion is greatest for faces that deviate from the others in the set on a particular dimension (eg if a person has a large forehead, it looks particularly large). This new method of image presentation, based on alignment and speed, could provide a useful tool for investigating contrastive distortion effects and face adaptation.

If you haven’t seen them before these will blow your mind.

Here’s a version with pretty girls:

Here’s another version, this time with Hollywood celebrities:

(HT: io9)

Seth MacFarlane To Bring Back COSMOS!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this news!

I’m a huge fan of the original COSMOS series by Carl Sagan. It had a huge impact on me as a kid when it first aired on TV in Australia and these days I own a copy of the series on DVD. Sagan paved the way for people like Brian Greene and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and for podcasts like Radio Lab and SGU.

We desperately need the younger generation to truly understand and appreciate science and the power of the scientific method. Hopefully Seth (who I’m also, of course, a huge fan of) can make this happen, although FOX seems like a very strange network to try to get it up on. He obviously has a good relationship with them, but c’mon – the network of O’Reilly, Glen Beck, Roger Ailes and the network who killed Firefly? Are they really going to get on board with promoting science?

(Source: Universe Today)

No Illusions Podcast #46 – Battle For Honour And Humanity

Here’s some of the stories I talk about on this week’s show:

Why climate deniers are like the Catholic church

The Unbreakable Smartphone That Lasts For Weeks Without Recharging

What it’s like to wear a brain-stimulating “thinking cap”

Vortex radio waves could boost wireless capacity infinitely

Most asylum seeker rioters turned out to be refugees

Can the people saying “The ALP ruined the economy” now pls STFU?

Obama announces top award for Israels Peres

Finally Published My Book About Philosophy.

The book is called “The Three Illusions” and it looks at science and philosophy. It’s my guide for living with what I call “permanent peace” and the philosophy in it has been the basis of how I’ve lived my life for the last 20 or so years.

Thanks for the folks who have proof read it for me over the last six months and given me notes, including Chrissy, Tony Kynaston and Russell Buckley.

No Illusions Podcast #42 – Nikola Danaylov on The Singularity

My guest today is Nikola Danaylov (who also goes by the pseudonym Socrates), host of The Singularity 1 on 1 Podcast and SingularitySymposium.com and SingularityWEBLOG.com.

He was born in Bulgaria, but moved to Toronto in 1998 where he obtained degrees in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics. About 18 months ago he started the Singularity 1 on 1 podcast and since then has interviewed major big brains, from Kurzweil and Vinge to Wolfram and Stross.

You can hear No Illusions on Stitcher SmartRadioStitcher allows you to listen to your favorite shows directly from your iPhone, Android Phone,  BlackBerry  or Palm phones

On-demand and on the go!

Dont have Stitcher? Download it for free today at Stitcher.com or in the app stores.  Stitcher SmartRadio- The Smarter Way to listen to radio.

Nanotechnology Mirage Effect

Researchers at the University of Texas Dallas recently demonstrated that transparent carbon nanotube sheets, which can have the density of air and the specific strength of steel, can be used to make objects invisible.


This news is a couple of weeks old but somehow I must have missed it.

Their website goes on to say:

“This invisibility for light oblique to the nanotube sheets is caused by the mirage effect, in which a thermally generated refractive index gradient bends light array from a hidden object.”

Okay, so it only works on the oblique, so you’re not going to use this to sneak up on anyone anytime soon, but this still blows my mind.

Of course, the research is being funded by “Office of Naval Research, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research”. Uh huh. Invisible battleships, anyone? I hated playing BATTLESHIP as a kid.