Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DECEMBER 18th [Science Comedy Advent Calendar]

December 18th: The Necker Cube

The build up of exciting, chunky presents under the tree is synonymous with Christmas. The soft, edgeless presents are fine, but everyone knows they're just socks. And since where were socks exciting?

No, it's the boxy, cubic/rectangular ones that really stoke the imagination. It could be anything? Anything that fits in a box. It might even be an Xbox, in a box. Like some sort of 'box squared'. Which, considering that squared is one step below cubed, which is what a box is, then a 'box squared' might suggest some sort of sub-box? It's a mathematical-philosophical minefield.

But one fun thing you can do with basic, transparent boxes is look at them. Yes, I said look at them. What's fun about that?

Well, if you look at a Necker cube, it's an image that can be perceived as both angled downwards, or upwards. There is nothing to distiguish the two states, so people either see it as pointing 'up', or pointing 'down'. Then, if you look at it long enough, it switches from one to the other. Then back again. Then back again. And so on.

It's just a good example of how the brain's perception system doesn't deal with ambiguity, so it tries to impose order on a visual stimulus when perhaps there is none. 

So there you go, an example of how, in response to the most basic stimulus, your brain overshoots and gets things all messed up. So it's important, at such a hectic time as Christmas, to load up on as much stimulation as you can to keep it quiet, or maybe just obliterate it with excessive booze

Your choice, but either way, the doctor recommends!

Twitter: @garwboy


No comments:

Social Network sharing gubbins