#33 Spinning Ballerina

The Spinning Ballerina Optical Illusion

The Spinning Ballerina optical illusion aka the right brain vs left brain test

Weird Fact: Due to right brain vs left brain dominance, the spinning ballerina appears to spin clockwise and anti-clockwise at the same time.

At first glance you’ll see the ballerina spinning round and round, seemingly in the same constant direction. But watch her long enough (or even let your eyes drift across the screen a little) and she’ll suddenly change direction.

But this isn’t due to any change in the animation – it’s your perception.

When the ballerina spins clockwise, your right brain is dominating your perception. And when she spins anti-clockwise, it’s your left brain.

What if she only spins in one direction? The more you watch, the more she’ll flip. It will probably happen at least once while you’re reading this. If not, I find it happens quickly if you look just off to the side of her movement or gaze at her shadow.


The Hidden Tiger

Here’s another very clever optical illision. Can you spot the hidden tiger?

This illusion was created by American wildlife artist Rusty Rust, showing a huge Bengal Tiger standing in a bamboo forest. Your goal is to find the hidden tiger somewhere in this image.

It’s a tough one for most people, but it’s painfully obvious when you see it. People with a well developed visual cortex tend to see it sooner.

I’ll post the answer in weird fact #34… just so you don’t give up so easily 🙂


The Hidden Tiger

Where is the hidden tiger?


#32 Relaxation Room

Weird Fact: Scientists have created the “World’s Most Relaxing Room.”

In 2008, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman designed a multi-media room based on the most reliable research into relaxation. Visitors were allowed to enter the room, lie down on soft matting and rest their heads on lavender-scented pillows.

They were bathed in a subdued green light which enhances the production of dopamine in the brain and provides a calming sensation. “In addition,” Professor Wiseman said, “the artificial blue sky helps create a mild form of sensory deprivation that will help them turn their attention inward and distract them away from daily stress.”

World's Most Relaxing Room

Professor Richard Wiseman in The World’s Most Relaxing Room


Peaceful music was also pumped into the “World’s Most Relaxing Room”, specially composed by University of Hertfordshire Professor of Music, Tim Blinko. “Richard asked me to create a piece of music with a slow and distinct rhythm, low frequency notes, and no sudden changes in tempo,” noted Professor Blinko. “I have completely re-written a piece especially for this project. It features a solo soprano voice, chosen for the soothing properties of the human voice, together with a Tibetan singing bowl, used in meditation and a string ensemble.”

Professor Wiseman added: “Previous work has shown that these colours, sounds and smells all help people relax, but this is the first time that they have been combined in this way, and it will be fascinating to look at the effect on visitors’ relaxation levels.”


10 Tips for Relaxation

For those of us who missed our shot at experiencing the world’s most relaxing room, here are Professor Wiseman’s stress-busting tips:

1. Head for the countryside. Research shows that spending around 30 minutes in green and quiet surroundings will make you feel significantly more relaxed.

2. Listen to soothing music. Listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a best-selling Relaxation CD, or Calming Ocean Wave Sounds lowers your blood pressure.

3. Carry out a relaxation exercise. Starting at your toes and working upwards, spend a few moments slowly tensing, and then releasing, the muscles of each part of your body.

4. Spend time with friends. Being with people you like helps distract you from anxious thoughts and lifts your mood.

5. Help others. Research shows that even carrying out a small act of kindness, such as making a donation to charity, helps improve your mood and decreases stress.

6. Accept what you can’t change. There is no point dwelling on the past, or thinking about what can’t be altered. Instead, focus on how you can create a better future.

7. Smile more. Don’t take life too seriously, and improve your ability to cope with stressful situations by seeing the funny side of whatever happens.

8. Use lavender. Research shows that most people find the smell of lavender especially relaxing, and that it also helps them get a good night’s sleep.

9. Hit the gym. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, which, in turn, make you feel better about yourself and become more relaxed.

10. Look at the sky. If it is a nice day, lie on the grass, look up at a clear sky, and allow positive thoughts and images to drift through your mind.


Chatback: What’s your most effective way to relax? Have you ever experienced a sensory deprivation tank? What happened?