Stereograms - Step Into 3-D

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Odd Nugget Social-done

Way back when, in 1838, British scientist Charles Wheatstone unearthed a new dimension of visual perception. And he went cross-eyed to do it.

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Wheatstone demonstrated the power of improper perception through the use of his own special invention, the "stereoscope."

Using such a device, otherwise sensible folk were suddenly given unto the impression they'd stepped into a 3-dimensional drawing. Oh the humanity!

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Thusly the art and obsession of autostereograms got its humble start. Some time later, an inventive Scott would take the technology further.

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David Brewster improved the stereoscope design through the use of lenses as opposed to the original mirrors. This made it much smaller and whimsical bouts of self-inflicted vision-impairment much more accessible.

Brewster didn't stop there though; he managed to discover a new version of the illusion in the process - this time, no silly contraptions needed!

In this way, the concept of a "wallpaper stereogram" came into existence. A simple trick of the eye that causes us to separate patterns by planes, it forms the basis of a great many exemplary eye-puzzles to this day. Fun stuff.


“Children see magic because they look for it.”― Christopher Moore


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Stereo vision is a simple thing to understand... Two slightly different images come together as one 3-D picture before one's crossed and refocused eyes.

Don't worry, it doesn't hurt... Much.

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A principal known as "binocular disparity" belies our innate ability to completely fudge up our perception of bad wallpaper to the point the stuff seems deep enough to trap souls. 'Seems' is the key word here.

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”― Roald Dahl


In essence, our brains go over hundreds of separate patterns almost instantaneously and derive a sense of depth from all of this information.

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When patterns in 2-dimensional images are intentionally messed with, our brains don't get hurt feelings. They make them 3-dimensional anyway.

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If you have trouble intentionally confusing your brain with these tricks, you can try moving your eyes in as close as possible to them and then (while holding your gaze on some invisible spot behind the image) backing away very slowly.

You'll know it's working when a hidden image or scene lifts off the page (or sinks into it).

Also, you'll transcend space and time - leaving your meager human husk behind. Standard stuff.

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Read our article on the Book of Kells...

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