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This Spinning Arrow Illusion Always Points Right, and It’s Stumping the Internet


We love a good optical illusion around here, even if it makes us scratch our heads for hours on end. The latest visual mystery comes to us in the form of a popular Instagram video, and it just might lead you to question the shape of everything you see from now on.

Instagram user @physicsfun posted some footage of a small white arrow mounted on a wooden stand. At the beginning of the video, this arrow is clearly pointing to the right — or so we think. A hand soon enters the frame, swiveling the arrow a full 180 degrees in the other direction. Now, most of us would expect that this arrow would be pointing to the left after that. But it doesn’t. See for yourself how this stubborn arrow just keeps on pointing to the right:

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Right Pointing Arrow: spin this arrow 180 degrees and it still points to the right- only in a mirror will it point left (and only to the left). Another incredible ambiguous object illusion by mathematician Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan, the inventor of this illusion and art form. A clever combination of reflection, perspective, and viewing angle produce this striking illusion. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info about where to get this illusion arrow and other amazing items featured here on @physicsfun #illusion #ambiguouscylinderillusion #ambiguouscylinder #geometry #mirrorreflection #physics #ambiguousobject #kokichisugihara #physicstoy #math #mathtoy #mathstoy #optics #opticalillusion #3dprinting #perspective #science #scienceisawesome

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So what the heck is happening here? Let’s just get one thing out of the way: You’re not going crazy. This arrow you’re looking at is from a toy set inspired by Kokichi Sugihara, a famous Japanese mathematician and optical illusionist. If you continue watching the video (as mind-boggling as it is), you’ll get a hint as to why this particular illusion is so confusing.

The next part of the video shows the same hand picking up the arrow and showing viewers what it looks like from above. You might be startled to find out that it’s a totally different shape when viewed from overhead — one with hidden contours. The sneaky nooks and crannies on the toy twist your visual perception when you look at it from a variety of angles, such as the one in the beginning of the video.

Just when everything finally starts to make sense, the video then shows another perspective of this toy: its reflection in a mirror. Finally, we get to see the arrow point to the left — but only in the mirror’s reflection. The original arrow remains pointing to the right. As it turns out, this optical illusion is so powerful that even when the solution behind it is revealed, our eyes immediately “trick” us again when we see it in its original position.

We don’t know about you, but we’re getting goose bumps!

h/t Science Alert

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