Math in the News
Mathematician-illusionist Conjures Up Gravity-Defying Escher-like Creation
May 24, 2010
Mathematician Kokichi Sugihara is also an illusionist who has been named winner of the Best Illusion of the Year, by the Vision Sciences Society, which recently held its annual gathering in Naples, Florida. His entry was the best of 84 submissions.
"Illusions are cool and fun, but they're important because they are mistakes of the visual system that give us clues about how the underlying processes work when they're functioning properly," said contestant Peter Tse (Dartmouth College).
Inspired by a computer program that transforms line drawings into renderings of three-dimensional solids, Sugihara (Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences) evaluated drawings of impossible figures, of the kind, for instance, in the artwork by M. C. Escher. He came up with an intricate set-up of sheared support columns, skewed slide angles, and ramps of varying lengths. The illusion is that balls appear to easily roll up ramps of the same length as if pulled by magnets.
See it for yourself, at the 2010 Illusion Contests Official site.
Source: Nature News (May 11, 2010)