“YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!” – Smarter Every Day 142

“YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!” – Smarter Every Day 142

Hey it’s me Destin. Welcome back to Smarter Every Day. You won’t believe your eyes. You’ve heard this before right? It’s usually like a click bait title to get you to watch an internet video or read a stupid article. But are there cases when you actually can’t believe your eyes? Make this video as large as you can on the screen that you’re watching and we’re gonna do an experiment. Put your head at a set distance from the screen and look at this photo. It’s a lighthouse on top of an island but I’ve inverted the colors. I want you to focus your eyes right on the tip of that lighthouse and don’t move them. I’m gonna be quiet now and I’m gonna let you transport your mind to this island off the coast of Tasmania. [ seagulls ] OK I’m about to invert the picture back but I want you to stay focused on that lighthouse. Are you ready? Here we go. Out of the corner of your eye you should see a pale blue sky and a deep royal blue sea with little light green grass spots on the island. Now, take your eyes and move it to the edge of the island. You see that? There is no color in this picture. It’s a black and white image. Your brain just made up color that wasn’t there. Can you believe your eyes? By the way, just in case you’re curious this is what the original image looked like. OK, so I just showed you a black and white image and for some reason your brain saw something like this. What is happening? Is that something going on with your eye? Or is that your brain? For all we know it might be the optic nerve connecting the two. Let’s investigate a little bit further. A couple of years ago I saw this video on the internet and at first it just looks like a neat little light toy. But my mind saw something way different. I realized for the first time that I literally could not believe my eyes. Not that I didn’t understand what was happening, but I knew that what I was seeing didn’t actually exist. As soon as I saw this video it was very clear to me that the dude that made this was a genius. The bad news is though, he lives hundreds of miles away in the desert. So I’m in a kind of a sleazy hotel and uh, I don’t want to say sleazy. Have you ever seen somebody do something really cool on the internet and you wanted to meet them? Well that’s kinda what happened here. This is Greg. – Hello – And Greg has a pretty interesting gadget that you made? Is that what we’re gonna call it? – That’s what we’re gonna call it. The device. – Did you design this PCB? – I did. – Did you populate it? – I did. That’s a lot of small chips on there, but.. – You’re a geek man. – Yeah I know. [laughs] It gets easier. – How long did it take to populate the board? – It takes about an hour and a half. – You did that whole thing in an hour and a half? – Yeah. – Yeah but can you change a water pump on a 1990 Chevrolet pickup? – [laughs] – So those are LEDs right? – Yeah they’re red green blue RGB LEDs. – That’s pretty cool. Now how are you controlling that? – So these LEDs are mounted on a circuit board that’s mounted on a DC motor. And if I apply power to the DC motor, it spins. And if I time it just right, I can essentially light up any LED anywhere on the circle that I want, as we can see here. – So you just created these bitmaps and then uploaded them through some software that you wrote? – Yep, so this is a 63 by 63 pixel bitmap, and essentially I take that and there’s actually an infrared sensor on the display that can receive data. – Oh look at that. Smarter Every Day. Little homage. So how did you do that? Did you upload that, or.. You did that today didn’t you. – Yes actually I just created that image right before driving out to meet you. – This is pretty amazing. So ok, here’s the deal. I asked you about this because I wanted to do this. I wanted to use this high speed camera to look at what you’ve got here. This is a Phantom Miro that we’re using here. This is a Miro 320S, and we’re gonna setup.. What’s your update rate on the microcontroller? – Um it’s pretty fast. It’s spinning at about 25 revolutions every second. – Ahuh. – And within those it updates 256 times. So we’re looking at about a 200 microsecond rate that the LEDs get updated. – OK so a thousand frames per second is not fast enough, is what you’re telling me. – No. – OK. Alright, well let’s figure out what frame rate we need to hit in order to understand what’s going on here. – Alright. – What do we call these? Are these pixels? Cause it’s not really like a square thing like cartesians, it’s kinda like an arc.. – Right, it’s kind of like an arc pixel. – OK, so what do you call that? – An arxel. – Arxel.. like it. We’re gonna go with that. How far does the LED bar travel for each individual arxel as you call it? – It’s about one and a half degrees. – If it’s only going one to two degrees, then why is my brain still seeing that light the whole time it’s around? Because it’s only one 360th of the sweep, but the rest of it’s dark. According to the high speed camera, which I had to crank up to 5500 frames per second, this is what’s actually happening. Check it out. Those’s dots, or the arxels as Greg likes to call them are kind of flipping around all over the place. Most of the image is dead space. So why is your brain making that image? To understand why the brain sees something that’s not there I found a guy that studies this sort of thing that’s published over 130 different papers on similar topics. OK I’m on a pretty bad Skype connection with Dr Stuart Anstis who is a genius at the University of California San Diego and what do you study Dr Anstis? – [british accent] I study visual perception, in particular visual illusions which tell us about the normal processes of vision, how the eyes send information to the brain. – That’s fantastic. And obviously your accent makes it very clear that you know exactly what you’re talking about because I would expect nothing less from a person who studies visual perception. So I want to understand why my eyeball is seeing something where I know there is not light. Why am I seeing that? – It’s because of persistence of vision, which means the eye averages what it sees over a short period of time. It’s analogous to a camera where you have a long exposure time, and this will give you more light coming in, greater sensitivity, but you have a more sluggish response. So anything moving gets blurred out. – What is the difference in time from the moment the LED is illuminated until my eye registers that the light is there? There has to be a delay time there. What is that? – That delay time varies enormously, over a ten-fold range, anything from 10 to 100 milliseconds. – According to Dr Anstis there’s two things going on, and let’s look at it. Let’s pretend that we have a flashing LED and we want to look at the brain’s response to that LED. First of all he said there’s a delay, so when the LED first comes on, our brain’s not going to immediately see vision, it’s gonna take some finite amount of time later. Secondly he said that the eye averages what it sees over a short period of time. Think about that. If we have a moving average, that means that our vision has some sort of inertia to it. It works like this. As the average comes along and is exposed to that LED flash, it starts to ramp up. As the light goes away, that moving average starts to ramp back down. As the light comes back that average starts to go up again, and instead of having gaps that are complete darkness, we have this nice trough in the bottom. Therefore we have a persistence of vision even though there is no light to see at that point in time. Let’s look back at that slo mo image from before with all the blinking LEDs. Now, let’s add this time average of light and see what the image looks like. Check it out. How cool is that? It looks just like what our eyes see. At what rate would you expect that I would quit seeing a uniform image but I would start to see like a tail dragging across the screen? – Well if the average time is less than one revolution then you’re going to see a gap. But supposing as you say, the propellor goes around in 1/25th of a second, that’s 40 milliseconds. – I get it now. Do you understand? Think about it. Greg’s wheel is rotating at 25 frames per second, and that has to do with the moving time average of the human eye. That’s why this video is at least 25, it’s actually 30 frames per second. If it wasn’t, you would see flickering of the image. So what seems like an imperfection in our eye is actually what smooths things out and makes the world work smoothly for us. That’s pretty awesome. If the people watching this video were students in your class what would you want them to know about Greg’s wheel and the persistence of vision? – [laughs] Well I would say every system has got a limited time resolution The eye has an engineering problem of trading time resolution against sensitivity to light. And in fact it’s got sort of knobs inside which can change that trade-off relationship automatically. The eye is in many ways much cleverer than the camera. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering. – Well thank you very much sir, I really appreciate your time. – Thank you. – Alright I hope you enjoyed this episode of Smarter Every Day. It was sponsored by lynda.com which helps pay for people like Micah who’s a video editor. – Hello. – Who happens to actually have a certification from Lynda. Lynda is like a Smarter Every Day but on very technical topics. So in this particular case, after effects. I had no idea how to do this. So Micah came along and helped me. He actually took a bunch of classes on Lynda and we found one together right? – That’s right. – And what was it called? – Echo. – This was the tutorial that taught me to model persistence of vision using After Effects. But you can learn almost any topic you want. They’ve got Excel tutorials, Photoshop tutorials, even how to edit videos like I do with Premiere. This is not the stuff you’re gonna find on YouTube, this is really high quality tutorials. They’ve got over 100,000 of them. So if you want to support Smarter Every Day, please consider going to lynda.com/smarter You’ll get a 10 day free trial which you can cancel at any time. I wanted to make sure that if you’re supporting Smarter Every Day you’re gonna have a really good experience so that’s lynda.com/smarter You can cancel at any time. I’m Destin, I hope you enjoyed this, feel free to subscribe, if not, no big deal. Hope you’re getting Smarter Every Day Have a good one. OK is there any truth to the rumor that you actually proposed using one of these? – There is some truth. [laughs] As I was finishing up the project I thought to myself, Hey it’d be pretty cool if I could like write messages on here so I decided that’s how I wanted to propose.


  • Andrew Bunn says:


  • ComDam says:

    the picture bit was so cool but after that i started to get bored of the video. the start was cool tho. 🙂

  • Pat B says:

    Hilarious he is using XC wire to make it.

  • Buzz Lightyear says:

    This channel has officially been respectfully approved by Star Command

  • Paul Baker says:

    If you want to know, stop seeing the world as if it is outside of you. Just a hint.

    Correlation does not equal causation

  • Fada fez says:

    That makes sense…. Actually we are "analog devices", not digital! No 0 and 1, there's a lot in between 🙂

  • zendogbreath says:

    impressive. the negative image was a color image, right?

  • The Teen Engineer says:

    thanx that was cool 🙂

  • Random Railfan Guy says:

    "… If ten million fireflies"

  • Nikzard Madara says:

    But it doesn't the answer how the brain assumed the colour of the image. It is not something to do with retention of what the eyes have already seen, because the eyes have not seen the colour earlier. Can somebody explain ?

  • Lewandra Erwin says:

    Thanks. I just had an intellectual argument w some teens on how fast light takes for us to see and how we see light, What, 8 min in the past? I enjoy those types of arguments and what they hold for the future. Love yr honesty in a world of mass deception

  • Carolina Outdoor Life says:

    OMG The Professor at 5:20 sounds like Marvin the Martian! Hope he does not invent a Plutonium Space Modulator! lol

  • colehoughton85 says:

    It’s the same thing when you look at a wheel on a car when it’s moving slowly, you see gaps, but when that wheel is moving in a quicker rate such as on a highway you see an almost solid image of the wheel!

  • Maxon Mendel says:

    The inventor guy must be from Wisconsin

  • Wak Cackle says:

    Digital to Analog

  • tyler89557 says:

    I don't believe in eyes.

  • M Piper says:

    I hope these guys don't accidentally open some portal to another dimension and accidentally let something through that didn't belong in this dimension.🤪


    how bout making a large portable smartphone screen out of this??

  • Trey Coughlin says:

    I accidentally let my eyes wander right when he switched to black and white, and I was flipping out because I thought it was actually a color image, and that the trick was that I thought it was black and white. I kept darting my eyes around trying to make it go back to normal.
    Guess thats what I get for having the volume so low lol

  • Trey Coughlin says:

    I can't shake the feeling that this video proves that the book Recursion by Blake Crouch is 100% real and possible.

  • Cody says:

    reminds me of fluorescence lifetimes lol. its a signal decay

  • CatNation12 says:


  • Nicholas Hermanto says:

    If 10 million fireflies
    K im sorry

  • Ondřej Bakan says:

    You can buy similar LED strips for your bicycle and as they rotate, they create an image. Nothing new.

  • Kareem says:

    What’s really crazy is that a mirror has depth of field.

  • Jerrick Kimmayong says:

    Wow i subscribe when i was shocked…

  • Kyle Sherman says:

    Nothing happened

  • Rahul Khamamkar says:

    Subscribed. Now i better become smart soon or else 😡

  • Cool Videos says:

    ..and now china makes this same gadgets,then upgraded in 2018 and they called it holograms and costs hundreds,mostly used for ads in shops… another man robbed by Chinese marketers watching youtube.

  • Justen Miller says:

    Lol i stared at the tower and it from inverted to very unsaturated to black and white. The grass wasn't even green. The only i saw was a blue sky and deep dark blue sea.

  • travis k says:

    i did make it colourful …nice..

  • Type R says:

    If you changed the inverted/infrared colors of the lighthouse picture to colors that are not opposite the actual picture, would you see the inversion of those colors when you flip to black and white? I'm just wondering if there's a afterimage reflex of going from one from the proper inversion of the color that makes the brain/eye bounce to what it ought to be, versus your brain messing with your head.

  • Shadow Mage says:

    Well smarter every day get smarter .! You assume that everyone thinks the same way ! You are wrong ! If we did all think the same there would be no reason to watch your video .

  • Morten Olsen says:

    Work for 3 sec

  • Micah AP says:

    I didn't see color in the first image of the lighthouse. When you spoke of the blue sky and water I was confused as I saw a black and white picture. After the explanation I rewatched four times and finally saw the color or imagined it one. 😆

  • john smith says:

    The lighthouse / island tricked me good and proper 👍😂

  • Brohamed DaBruhphet says:

    Show how the earth isnt round. Thatll really blow your mind.

  • James Goner says:

    I can't believe your video!

  • Sean DePoppe says:

    Can you explain why when you look at a spinning airplane prop, or a wheel. As it speeds up it goes in one direction then at a certain speed it appears to almost stop then go the opposite direction then goes back to original direction or appears to oscillate depending on speed.

  • Jeromy Tichner says:

    I am not sure the introductory question was answered, "Why or how does your eye make up colors that are there on a static picture when it is black and white?" I would also be curious to know whether the eye, the optic nerve, or the brain is responsible for the delay mentioned in the video?

  • Shaggy J says:

    Lol 😂 what a cool nerd to propose using his light gadget! Too cool 😎✌️

  • PARADALUS says:

    explains why Flash-bang Grenades work 😛

  • Soltys says:

    Dr Stuart's accent is the best thing ever, period.

  • Pearl Last says:

    Very cool., the word of GOD says we are made “fearfully & wonderfully made”!! Our eyes was built by a genius! Thanks be to God who made heaven & earth and all things in the earth., which include humans.,

  • Jeevan Multhalli says:

    Same concept is use in CRT TV

  • Pushakar Gaikwad says:

    4 years later and we can see really high resolution devices everywhere

  • j s says:

    Lol he was saying the colors and my eyes where broken cause all i saw was black and white

  • selpmax says:

    I saw the island in black and white.

    I was wondering what you were talking about, when you were talking about green.

    I'm not watching the rest.

  • Mike Ivy says:

    I cannot wait until we live in a holographic world…i.e. holographic phone calls, tv’s…etc…

  • Empurress says:

    The most interesting thing about the lighthouse picture is the light house. The color is a result of the negative color being seen before the chance, however, the lighthouse changes to white from black.
    There is a odd persistence of darkness to be factored here. 😉

  • Antonio Sanchez says:

    Absolutely LOVE this video and channel!! Very good explanations, experiments, and comparative examples that most people can comprehend! 😀

  • Iva Lee says:

    i only saw the but sky

  • McPro 87 says:

    my brain didn't make colour….what now?

  • KIR Ismyjob says:

    You know who is awesome? Our creator,he is genius! ❤️

  • table tennis says:

    Are you shmee150's brother..?

  • Eu gen says:

    Youre for sure in the top 5 of my fav channels

  • Amarinder Singh says:

    Fan type hologram

  • Tony Tony says:

    The island trick… the inversion pic has color… so it's not the real inversion of the black and white… duh…

  • mz 00956 says:

    I would have a question:

    Could you get somehow into the System where the information gets from the eye to the brain and add some signals? Like attach a small cable that can send signals in? If you could decode how your individual eye converts the light into signals, you could then add something to the image that your brain gets. Like Information from a camera for blind people or just a small "window" where you can see that you are to late for your flight to Europe, or something like this.

  • Kris Norman says:

    Back in the 90's (Oh the 90's), Radio Shack had a spectrum analyzer that worked in a similar way that this does. It only had red LED's, and could only produce shapes based on the sound tone it heard, but it had the spinning LED light-bar that created the illusion of solid objects. I had a "system" in my lowrider, and it always tripped people out to see it making different shapes as the stereo played different notes.

  • JESSE B says:

    Ok, Ok … I'm going back to SL👀P!

  • CreepXD says:

    The fuuuuu

  • Richmond Kinzler says:

    What i Love about this video isn't the actual science that Destin is going for, although very interesting. The piece that i slightly picked up on was during his skype call, the professor had the exact same lamp as Destin in his office during the call, you literally see the same lamp both videos lol

  • Poli Incredible says:

    You won’t believe your eyes when you get to heaven!

    Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus. Believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead and you will be saved!
    (Romans 10:9)

    Christ makes life INCREDIBLE!

  • artkiko says:

    woah! that was nuts!

  • Pear says:

    Bruh, my eyes are stupid

  • Cool Mens Stopmotion Cubing says:

    i didnt believe my eyes while watching the video from the oscilloscoop or something drawing with sound

  • Mr G says:

    Question for you. If our eyes have a 25-30 frames per second rate of delay, does that mean that every item in front of us is putting out above a 25 frame per second light rate? So I can see the table, chairs and refrigerator in front of me because they are oscillating above 25 frames per second or does this only apply to electrical light impulses?

  • C G says:

    No wonder tactical strobe lights' Bucha Effect messes people up.

  • Phúc Ngô says:

    Thank you❤
    I like it
    In vietnam we call it :"eye retention- sự lưu ảnh của mắt"

  • Blender Dumbass says:


  • Flipin 59 says:

    I only saw black and white not green

  • Florito Bentillo says:

    Because it's moving toooooooo fast..

  • Mr Mensa says:

    Just like the frequency of your television – so one sees a moving picture rather than a sequence of frames. Think about the old hand drawn cartoon frames.

  • barbagiggia says:

    Your genuine enthusiasm is contagious Destin. God bless you.

  • Imagemaker Design says:

    That's why when you close your eyes
    You see a blur of the last images of what you just say
    Time average

  • Abdul Raheem Lucknow says:

    The best thing about this channel is that all his experiments observations and experiments are originally started by Destin with his own experience which is something very difficult to be done on youtube on a regular basis.❤

  • Yao Song says:

    It's weird but my brain only made it colourful for only a second, then it transitioned to grey in a split second without having to change my viewpoint. I tried it a second time setting it to pause and looking at the inverted image for a longer period but it happened again, it only stayed colourful for about a second and then grey without any movement of my eyes.

  • Beau Hunt says:

    @smartereveryday what are the implications of this on the actual speed of light and how we measure it. Could the actual speed of light be faster?

  • Charles Moore says:

    We see in analogue to put digital media to use in our brains. Its a big reason why I am always wondering about why digital tv's were pushed so hard

  • Furious Force Gaming says:

    Please do this again in 2019 October..please…since you have better Phantom

  • David Godfrey says:

    There are geniuses in California?

  • R-MackPhotography says:

    Watching this in 2019 – great vid as always 🙂

  • Sheldon Bass says:

    I get it—my brain's just too slow to follow this, even though you're explaining it. Well, I have been a very long time without sleep, so maybe that's the problem. Which brings up a question: How long can a person go without sleep before they start hallucinating or having some other strange effects?

  • Ucappin says:

    First one no work for me

  • GerdesDK says:

    I did'nt see any coulors. Sorry. Great videos you make

  • Uwemedimo Usa says:

    1:20 I'm pissed. You tricked me! 😅

  • leon777554 says:

    Questions is if all people see the same picture.? If all brains working in the same frames ?

  • Em P says:

    if people then brag abbout that "if it would be less than 30 frames per second we would see flickering" and anny gamer with not enough understanding of how those things work would say "but why can i then still see a constant immage if i got less than 30 fps in a game" its cause that fps counter only shows how manny new pictures a second your graphics card can provide for your monidtor to display, but the display will always (ok most of the time) draw those pictures at its discribed refresh rate, so if you only have fps lower than that refresh rate, the frames (pictures by the graphics card) will be drawn several times untill the card gives out another picture, if your monitor has a lower refresh rate than your graphics card can spit out fps it will just drop some frames on the go, like skip every second frame, this could cause unpleasant distortions or other effects as the monitor doesent know what it should display, so there is an option called v-sync that should cap the gpus fps at the monitors refresh rate and give you the best immage your monitor can provide

  • JacobsParry says:

    sorry, but I only saw a black and white picture, and I did try it 3 diffrenter times even. I do haved some of aphasias brains damaging so may be that does wrecked it.

  • harry lonsdale says:

    it didnt fool my eyes at all.

  • Liem Duong says:

    There are so many clever people out there whose genius works are not recognised or known – Sadly I am not one of them

  • The Hoodie Guy says:

    I think this is a scientifical explanation of how some gamers can't take artificial motion blur in-game – their eyes already done the motion blur for them from the persistence of vision.

  • Blaze Thunder says:

    Thank you ! That was awesome 😎

  • saurabh shrivastava says:

    Great Video, just thinking why does a moving fan seem transparent? not a solid circle???

  • Mark C. PURCELL says:

    I replayed it 5 times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *