Can You See All 12 Black Dots At Once?

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It’s no dress, but this optical illusion will surely make your head hurt.

What you’re looking at is called Ninio’s extinction illusion. There are twelve black dots evenly distributed on the grey smocking leaf pattern, but your (dumb) brain simply won’t allow you to see them all at once. What’s up with that?

It’s a variation of the scintillating grid illusion—which itself is a variation on the Hermann grid illusion. Any of these take advantage of lateral inhibition in the retina. In layman’s terms, this basically means that the stimulated light receptors in your eye can sometimes mess with the ones adjacent to them, making you see things that aren’t there, or not see things that are there.

Or, in Ninio’s own words:

When the white disks in a scintillating grid are reduced in size, and outlined in black, they tend to disappear. One sees only a few of them at a time, in clusters which move erratically on the page. Where they are not seen, the grey alleys seem to be continuous, generating grey crossings that are not actually present. Some black sparkling can be seen at those crossings where no disk is seen. The illusion also works in reverse contrast.

I can only see four dots at a time. One man reports his wife can see all twelve. How many can you see?

[H/T Will Kerslake]

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The disappearing dots on this image are driving the internet insane

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There’s a new optical illusion on the block, and it’s a good one. 

Take a look at the image above. Take as much time as you want. It looks as though there’s one, maybe two dots at the intersections of the diagonal gray lines, but the dots are constantly moving, right?

The dots are not moving: it’s a static image and there is a total of 12 dots in the picture (check out the full version of the image, below).

We’ve seen our fair share of optical illusions — even variations on the one above — but rarely is one so undefeatable as this. It’s nearly impossible to see more than maybe three dots at once, even when you’ve convinced your brain there are 12 dots.  

Shared on Twitter on Sunday by game developer Will Kerslake, the image took over the top of Reddit on Monday, with more than 8,200 upvotes and 2,600 comments at the time of writing. 

So what’s happening here? One Redditor has an idea: a scientific paper from October 2000 called Variations on the Hermann Grid: An Extinction Illusion talks about a similar set of optical illusions. 

The paper’s abstract explains the phenomenon thusly: “When the white disks in a scintillating grid are reduced in size, and outlined in black, they tend to disappear. One sees only a few of them at a time, in clusters which move erratically on the page. Where they are not seen, the grey alleys seem to be continuous, generating grey crossings that are not actually present.”

As for why this happens, the paper does not give a definitive answer, but it appears the illusion is related to a phenomenon called “crowding” or “the inability to recognize objects in clutter,” as well as some deficiencies in how human memory works as you fix your eyes on a subject i.e., “people do not combine information from multiple fixations in a fully integrated and detailed representation.” For details, read the paper here.  

Kerslake later shared another paper, from 1999, which also focuses on this type of optical illusion — and has images of some other similarly great illusions. Read it here

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Action Launcher brings Google’s rumored Android tweaks early

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Why wait for Google’s rumored Pixel / not-Nexus phones, when you could use some of their software right now? The latest release of Action Launcher has arrived, and it cribs some of the features noted in Android Police’s leak of the software Google is apparently preparing for its Android devices. According to its developer Chris Lacy, the new release is entirely inspired by the leaks. The reason? As soon as Google makes a change, many of his users request similar features in Action Launcher, but this time, he’s getting out ahead of the curve.

I’ve been trying out the latest version of the app and honestly, I still think the QuickBar widget that brought apps to the search bar is more useful than the Google Search button / weather widget / swipe up dock combo. There are also "Nougat-inspired" outlined folder presets, and the folders themselves can get backgrounds that match your wallpaper. Lacy figures Google will eventually move on from this UI too (remember when it pushed Lollipop tweaks to older devices via the Google Now launcher?), but at least this way you can give it an early shot.

Along with the other new tweaks, it’s available now in the Play Store, but unlocking everything takes a $5 in-app purchase.

Source: The Blerg, Action Launcher (Google Play)

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