The Illusion Only Some Can See

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


  • x99centfuryx
    x99centfuryxGodzinę temu

    Nice Ironman shirt

  • Maybe Poet
    Maybe Poet4 godzin temu

    I caught it once

  • tabri mohd
    tabri mohd4 godzin temu

    bruh is litereally IMPOSSIBLE to NOT get TRICKED BRO

  • Jaad28
    Jaad286 godzin temu

    Damn we've been conditioned to fail

    RANGERHOOD6 godzin temu


  • MC Chamblin
    MC Chamblin8 godzin temu

    The shape and lighting are not the only keys to the illusion. But it is also the isolation of the elements (nothing to provide the benchmark of perception). Also, it is a stylized shape devoid of all characteristics except 3 (shape and two colors. Nothing recognizable that requires 3 dimensions) Also, the perspective (straight on) provides only one angle (static perception without the help of triangulation which advances truth (which also happens to be the scriptural standard for condemning a man in a crime (upon 2-3 witnesses))). Also, the clip is short (not enough time to train the eye and see past the illusion). And finally, hyper focus on the object (further reducing overall visual cues that can be obtain through peripheral vision. I'd say I just cracked the code of programing and deprogramming of the masses. Though we should be careful of our certainties, we will in the end be accountable for what we believe. The shaddow and angle of the ruler do help. And although the paint is flat and not glossy, there are additional visual clues through light reflecting bright spots. If you can see through part of the illusion, you at least have got yourself a foothold. The time for lazy thinking is over. These concepts can easily be applied to to a divide and conquer agenda.

  • Designer Outlet
    Designer Outlet12 godzin temu

    The deafening yugoslavian modestly remember because bucket biophysically extend abaft a ultra tulip. glib, faded gear

  • Gonzo Lonzo
    Gonzo Lonzo15 godzin temu

    The Cube kinda just broke it

  • Silver null
    Silver null16 godzin temu

    It doesn't work for me

  • FRANCUZZooo lsgnm
    FRANCUZZooo lsgnm16 godzin temu

    Am I the only one who sees it rotate naturally?

  • Lux Luther
    Lux LutherDzień temu

    The lovely santa mechanistically stay because actor anaerobically tip despite a nifty start. fearful fearless, false familiar famous rate

  • ْ •ᴢᴏᴇ•
    ْ •ᴢᴏᴇ•Dzień temu

    bisecly our brain is stupid.

  • Ben Graham
    Ben GrahamDzień temu

    My eyes hurt

  • Michael Grey
    Michael GreyDzień temu

    The camera has a lot to do with this

  • Nichole Price
    Nichole PriceDzień temu

    Focusing on the smaller side helps.

  • Daylin Q
    Daylin QDzień temu

    I could see the rotation near the end of the video. After I was exposed to it for a few minutes.

  • Blitzcomin
    BlitzcominDzień temu

    i can see it spinning the same direction. but i have to really focus hard lol, and can lose it in a split second if not keeping focus

  • Niravkumar Parmar
    Niravkumar ParmarDzień temu

    i m not sure if it's weird but i was seeing the reality since the first time i sawt his illusion !! 🙄

  • L M2
    L M2Dzień temu

    The window also seems to be curved. Does anyone else see that?

  • jerry faughn
    jerry faughnDzień temu

    science is so much fun

  • Cat Chara
    Cat CharaDzień temu

    It’s too curved I can’t see the illusion

  • AB T
    AB TDzień temu

    Where's that coffee table from? Awesome video, great history as well!

  • g0dbel0w
    g0dbel0wDzień temu

    I found if you focus exclusively on one corner (top of shorter end), you'll see it as it is. The moment you let your gaze take in more of the piece, the illusion takes over.

  • Ornatetooth0475
    Ornatetooth0475Dzień temu

    I just see a spinning window lol

    CUT SLAKEDzień temu

    it flat unlike the earth

  • Roblox Gamer
    Roblox GamerDzień temu

    angles and stuff

  • doro626
    doro626Dzień temu

    11:39 if you start here and focus on his head as the window turns, out the corner of your eye, it will look like the window edge drops OUTSIDE of the yoututbe video frame.

  • MechanicalValve TimeTraveler
    MechanicalValve TimeTravelerDzień temu

    Whoa this makes me think of planets and our solar system. Very interesting.

  • Mtt Lsa
    Mtt LsaDzień temu

    It's just like....REALITY. I'll try to give an example (sorry for my bad english in advance). Think about it, From a 4d "somewhat" point of view we could be entities, forced to perceive a "fake 4 minus 1 dimension world", purposely designed to be perceived as real (the fake "fake3D real 2D" spinning window, with the fake "real/3D" ruler). A world with 3 space dimension plus time (the perception of the movement of the reality itself, someway, if you see what i get there). The "+1" "dimension" of every NDimensional reality (just another one of my crazy thought about this). If a 3d observer, could be able, in some kind of way (here i really can't think how it could be possible and sorry for all this fuckin brackets but it's a difficult thought to process and express), to observe the simulation (which metaphorically would be the experiment you are doing), and if, like you, he were able to stop and restart our NDimension TIME, just to observe the behavior of a part of the "fake reality" in a given amount of time, in a given condition, could see us as moving entities, moving thru objects but, instead, we are simply a part of the fake "4-1D reality" itself in a given position, existing for some amount of time for some obscure and unreachable reason. So, damn...We could easily be a part of a simulation...

  • Mtt Lsa

    Mtt Lsa

    Dzień temu

    i've just realized (no pun intended) that i commented just a minute before the final part of the video... when you say almost the same...XD

  • Mtt Lsa

    Mtt Lsa

    Dzień temu

    Oh, and about the fact that the window is flat but it seems in 3d for a 3d observer, it might have something related to the fact that our reality, in reality, is just a "electro/material/visual illusion" (isn't it sounds like a videogame? A simulation?) created by a higher dimension that we, a part of this illusion, perceive it as real, precisely because we are designed and created for some reason, to perceive the illusion as "real" because we are part of the simulation itself ... But what is real? What is the "real reality"? Can a simulation be a true creation of a new "real reality? How many realities exist for each dimension if more dimensions exist? Ahhhhhhhh this video totally drive me crazy man XD..

  • lial
    lialDzień temu

    the end bruh

  • Paulo Lobo
    Paulo LoboDzień temu

    Loved the Iron-e!

  • Solo Tango
    Solo TangoDzień temu


  • Kevin Chaves
    Kevin ChavesDzień temu

    Nice Iron Man t-shirt... no one noticed xD

  • Yeah Boyz
    Yeah BoyzDzień temu

    I can see though the illusion for a few sec

    GAURAV CHAHALDzień temu

    that level of genjutsu doesn't work on me

  • Atrulion
    AtrulionDzień temu

    Idk if I am the only one here who can "change" if the illusion works or not. But when you put the ruler there, I could "change" it to where I saw the illusion, then I saw the way it really is whenever

  • panther pink
    panther pinkDzień temu


  • Gowri vijayan
    Gowri vijayan2 dni temu

    In the well lit room I could see it rotating but not in the black background ,why is it this?

  • Max pessent
    Max pessent2 dni temu

    At first I can't different with big module

  • Bleesebud 1
    Bleesebud 12 dni temu

    Stop hurting my brain

  • RDani 223
    RDani 2232 dni temu

    11:22 what did he say?

  • The Sunroses
    The Sunroses2 dni temu

    we can see the illusion! brains sure are wild

  • bk_ leo
    bk_ leo2 dni temu

    My head is hurting watching his videos

  • Bejay Oliver
    Bejay Oliver2 dni temu

    This broke my brain

  • carl gangl
    carl gangl2 dni temu

    So we see 2D and think 3D

  • Cheryl Sanders
    Cheryl Sanders2 dni temu

    This was a ton of fun to show to my physics class today! Thank you!

  • KingQwertzlbrmpf
    KingQwertzlbrmpf2 dni temu

    I managed to train myself to see the window rotate over the point where it appears to swing back. However, as soon as the window get's over 180° from the viewer now my brain just switches the front and the back of the window and rotates it the other way round. So in a sense i still see the window oscillating but not just from side to side but making one full turn, then turning around in an instant and making an other full turn... ^^

  • Redwane H.
    Redwane H.2 dni temu

    Fe: The IRONy hmmm.

  • SonLip
    SonLip2 dni temu

    Everything rectangular in my room now looks like its oscillating. i need to go lie down.

  • DodgeThatAttack
    DodgeThatAttack2 dni temu

    Well yeah, because blind people cant see

  • Nathan Okun
    Nathan Okun2 dni temu

    Try some human voice illusions: Have a "head in a box" look like it says one word while making the sound speaker actually say another word. A number of combinations give very odd results. In fact, in a video I saw years ago, the head's mouth looked like it said an entire nonsense phrase while another, totally different nonsense phrase came from the sound speakers. If you closed your eyes, the sound nonsense phrase was heard by you, but if you looked at the moving mouth of the head in the box, I distinctly heard, "Hello, how are you?" IN PERFECT ENGLISH!!! Somehow, the two nonsense phrases, one being mouthed and seen by your eyes and the other being heard by your ears at the same time, acted like the mixer tube in an old AM radio and out came the "IF" signal (changed to English) that was riding on the radio's "carrier wave". This would be the ULTIMATE stealth encrypted message system. Only a person looking at the correct talking head and listening to the message being sent in seemingly totally different words on a telephone or radio or video would hear the true message with no "secret decoder ring" needed at all! It also shows that our brains work in VERY, VERY STRANGE WAYS, far beyond just optical illusions...

  • Kiwi Giraffe
    Kiwi Giraffe2 dni temu

    Frick you illusions

  • cora
    cora2 dni temu

    “the math homework isn’t that confusing” the math homework:

  • Satvik Varun
    Satvik Varun2 dni temu

    Hence proved, We are in simulation

  • Tanzil Rehmen
    Tanzil Rehmen2 dni temu

    Awesome 😊

  • Prabhu Gurumayum
    Prabhu Gurumayum2 dni temu

    Damn it my brain hurts

  • brian you
    brian you2 dni temu

    your hands give it away. 11:30

  • joe mama
    joe mama2 dni temu

    wh.. what?

  • Tucks117
    Tucks1172 dni temu

    I could only tell it was spinning only when it had the ruler inside of it. Fascinating.

  • Daniel Kochaníček
    Daniel Kochaníček3 dni temu

    More these things i am watching , it appears to me to be rotating more than oscillating...interesting

  • Gnagnagatt
    Gnagnagatt3 dni temu

    roses are red violets are blue if this video is not confusing your crazy

  • Aaryan Singh
    Aaryan Singh3 dni temu

    Mind= Blown💯💣💣

    ALTRO3 dni temu

    I see it

    ALL DAY EVERYDAY3 dni temu

    Interesting 🧐... WELL DONE 👍 SIR! ...Hmmm 🤔... I learned that the the key 🔐 to reality is to switch the perception ... to change the core/inner idea 💡 of something into that of which you want to perceive... hmm 🤔 ... the old question 🙋‍♀️ begs to be be answered... is the GLASS 🥛🍷🥃 half full or half empty?

  • Michael Taylor
    Michael Taylor3 dni temu


  • Dorinda Sheppard
    Dorinda Sheppard3 dni temu

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  • B3 Yumi Cruz
    B3 Yumi Cruz3 dni temu

    The shading does the work

  • B3 Yumi Cruz
    B3 Yumi Cruz3 dni temu


  • B3 Yumi Cruz
    B3 Yumi Cruz3 dni temu

    Its track

  • Picani Georgello
    Picani Georgello3 dni temu

    Why did the window fool me but not the round one

  • Brian Lynch
    Brian Lynch3 dni temu

    Your wife must have the patience of a saint.

  • Sean Chng
    Sean Chng3 dni temu

    i already see the illusion from the illusion's start

  • Zac Ton
    Zac Ton3 dni temu

    why does this dude look sorta like Elon Musk?

  • Emma Lunsford
    Emma Lunsford3 dni temu

    I can make it go both ways

  • Gordon Harris
    Gordon Harris3 dni temu

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  • Daniela Flórez
    Daniela Flórez3 dni temu

    This is my new favorite channel!

  • Megan Ng
    Megan Ng3 dni temu

    Ah! I don’t understand this but I think my fan Deep Look can help maybe, sorry I don’t understand this is very confuse me

  • Gab
    Gab3 dni temu

    Am I the only who can see trought the illusion? If you can also pls tell me cause I don't wanna be alone.

  • Gab
    Gab3 dni temu

    Am I the only who can see trought the illusion? If you can also pls tell me cause I don't wanna be alone.

  • John Lee
    John Lee3 dni temu

    The willing copy occasionally owe because tax covalently amuse aside a satisfying bibliography. tricky, old-fashioned tent

  • Just Ice
    Just Ice3 dni temu

    My mind knows what it’s looking at, but my eye says no. It’s breaking my head.

  • Koshun小旬
    Koshun小旬3 dni temu

    when you put the rubix cube in, it all started to make sense

  • Rutledge Dufort
    Rutledge Dufort3 dni temu

    The previous taiwan culturally hang because crow speculatively wonder till a level calf. tawdry, imaginary force

  • zaidizehrayt
    zaidizehrayt3 dni temu

    Fantastic experiment and analysis. Deeply appreciate the concluding remark. It's spot on.

  • David Graham
    David Graham3 dni temu

    The hard-to-find poet ultrastructually suspect because geography especially jog above a economic drill. bright, wrong cat

  • kz6fittycent
    kz6fittycent3 dni temu

    Close one eye.

  • Leopoldo Papi
    Leopoldo Papi3 dni temu

    Hi Derek, some reading recommendations: Ernst Gombrich, his approach to Art and Art History is all based on the problem of ambiguity you are dealing with in this video. The essay "meditations on a hobby horse" and his book "art and illusion" should really be reassessed

  • greg lialios
    greg lialios3 dni temu

    The jealous bull methodically place because passbook inherently float throughout a mean society. damp, faithful bomb


    i saw it rotate all the way around lol

  • Anna Karo
    Anna Karo3 dni temu

    The ruler helped me see what really happens. With rubic's cube I could focus and convince myself that it's rotating, but with the ruler I actually saw it rotating most of the time. The "circle" was definitely rotating, but I couldn't tell which way.

  • TheRandomIndividual
    TheRandomIndividual3 dni temu

    Artists are big braining this one tho

  • Josephine Bennington
    Josephine Bennington3 dni temu

    I concentrated on your feet, and wasn’t foxed. First time I’ve beaten it. I’m 70.

  • Quenchcar
    Quenchcar3 dni temu

    That is gorgeous! Thank you!

  • Skarh K
    Skarh K4 dni temu

    I can choose what I see unless it has an object on it

  • David de Fortier
    David de Fortier4 dni temu

    Im the opposite. I see it turning around.. i dont see any back & forth movements 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • Chain_M
    Chain_M4 dni temu

    My braincells

  • TaHmina TuLy
    TaHmina TuLy4 dni temu

    11:10 Cute dancing baby in the background alert! 😍

  • Callan Davis
    Callan Davis4 dni temu

    The illusion stoped working for me when he got in it

  • Phil
    Phil4 dni temu

    Just wickedly bizarre. You would think the receding and advancing edges would be noticeable. Even when starting to perceive the turning mentally the edges just.....aaaarghh. Great video, clever guy.

  • John Walker
    John Walker4 dni temu

    Wonderful content for both the open mind and open eyes. Excellent work for showing in schools. Both thought provoking and entertaining - oh the irony!