The Impossible Staircase…


…or is it? Have fun wracking your brain on this one. It’s an illusion invented, my sources tell me, by Lionel and Roger Penrose, mathematician, physicist, and also well-known among skeptics as a proponent of the idea of quantum neurobiology.

It was depicted by M. C. Escher in 1961, but earlier conceived by Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd, though neither Escher nor either Penrose are thought to have known it.

This is a good illustration of how our own senses can fool us, and a useful perceptual example of why direct experience is not as consistently reliable as pseudoscience advocates would have us believe.

(Last Update 2011/1/11, 4:30, Crediting Corrections)

About Troy Loy

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Monday, 15:44, January 10, 2011, in Psych/Brain stuffs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. the illusion is simply that you are viewing a 3 dimensional object when you are not … visualize it for what it is – a flat surface – and the illusion is gone

    Like this

  2. Wouldn’t that be Escher, not Penrose? (Sir Roger invented bestsellers that are impossible to read.)

    Like this

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