Albert Einstein Never Looked Prettier

by Amy Marcott on April 15, 2009

in Research, Science

Upclose this is an image of Albert Einstein, but take a few steps back and Marilyn Monroe appears.

Up close this is an image of Albert Einstein, but take a few steps back and Marilyn Monroe appears. This image, courtesy of Aude Oliva, also appears in the May 2009 issue of Wired.

Take a few steps back from this image of Einstein. Who do you see?

If you’re standing back far enough, Marilyn Monroe appears. This image is one of many Hybrids created by Aude Oliva, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT who leads the Computational Visual Cognition Laboratory. Oliva conducts human behavioral and computational research on visual scene understanding seeking to understand how the brain processes visual images and scenes rapidly and effortlessly.

Hybrid illusions exploit the multiscale perceptual mechanisms of human vision by combining the low-spatial frequencies of one picture with the high spatial frequencies of another to produce a static image whose interpretation changes with viewing distance.

View a gallery of Hybrids including a dolphin that morphs into a car (dolphar?) and a leopard that changes into an elephant (leophant?) and learn more about how Hybrids work, and watch quick movies that demonstrate the transformation without having to step back from the image.

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