Distortions of Apparent Velocity: A New Optical Illusion

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Science  24 Apr 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3930, pp. 464-467
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3930.464


To an observer whose one eye is covered with a relatively strong filter (approximately 90 percent extinction) and who views a landscape from the side window of a moving automobile, the velocity of the vehicle appears to be markedly reduced when the uncovered eye is in the forward or leading position (in the sense of motion of the vehicle); the velocity seems to be increased when the covered eye is in the leading position. The illusion of reduced velocity is accompanied by an apparent dwarfing of objects near the roadside and an apparent foreshortening of the distance between object and observer; the illusion of increased velocity is accompanied by an apparent increase in size of objects and an increase in their apparent distance. These illusions can be understood as corollaries of the well-known Pulfrich phenomenon.