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The Ames Window - A Bizarre Illusion

The Ames Window is an optical illusion, in which a strangely-shaped window (with a stick running through it) is rotated slowly. Because we assume it to be a normally-shaped window, our brains perceive the window and the stick interacting in strange ways, seeming to change shape in ways that don't align with normal perspective shifts. The illusion was designed by Adelbert Ames, Jr., an American artist and psychologist. Ames also created the Ames Room, a similar perspective illusion that was later used to film scenes in The Lord of the Rings, making hobbits appear small. Neat stuff. Here's a bit more from Wikipedia on the Ames Window, followed by an explanatory video:

The Ames trapezoid or Ames window is a style of window which, when observed frontally, appears to be a rectangular window but is, in fact, a trapezoid.

The window is mounted on a rod connected to an electric motor that rotates it about its vertical axis. When it is observed with one eye from about 3 meters or with both eyes at 6 meters, or more, the window appears to rotate through 180 degrees and then seems to stop momentarily and reverse its direction of rotation. It is therefore not perceived vertically to be rotating continuously in one direction but instead is mis-perceived to be oscillating, reversing its direction once every 180 degrees.

This video shows the window, with commentary by Professor Richard Gregory.

(Via Kottke.org.)

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Pop Culture
Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
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Radio Flyer

Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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