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The Mechanics of Illusions and the Illusion of Mechanics

Alain Goriely (Oxford University)
Thu February 15th 2024, 4:00 - 5:00pm
MRC Event Series

Illusions have been a constant source of amusement but they are  also a unique gateway into understanding the way we perceive the world and how the brain processes information. Traditional visual illusions often involve a primary element—be it a line or a circle—that undergoes deformation or displacement due to the influence of surrounding elements, such as additional lines or dots. I will show that that these perceptual interactions can be modeled as effective forces and torques acting on the primary element and inducing small deformations. I will then demonstrate that the adoption of  phenomenological interaction laws can adequately account for a wide range of these illusions. Moreover, these laws find their foundations in models of the visual processing system that exhibits a rich geometric structure, thereby forging a direct connection between the processing of visual information and the emergence of illusions.

Alain Goriely is a Professor of Mathematical Modelling at the University of Oxford. You can learn more about Professor Goriely on his webpage.