Marilyn or Einstein? Take This Fun Eye Test Devised By MIT Researchers


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The recent worldwide debate about the color of a dress has piqued the public's interest in illusions. While there are many that are making their rounds, the most fascinating is one created by researchers at Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2007. In addition to being fun, it apparently also serves as a vision test.

The team led by Dr. Aude Olivia began by creating a hybrid image dubbed “Marilyn Einstein." It features a blurry photo of Marilyn Monroe superimposed over a finely detailed picture of Albert Einstein. Since the Marilyn image possesses fewer pixels, it is what the eyes see when viewing the photo from a distance. However, up close the intricate details become more apparent, magically transforming the same image into a photo of Albert Einstein.

But according to the researchers, the transformation only happens for people that have good vision or the right eyeglass prescription. Those that do not will be unable to discern the finer details and hence only see it as a blurry photo of Marilyn Monroe.

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In addition to serving as an impromptu eye test, the photo also enabled researchers to determine how the human brain processes images. The study entailed exposing participants to “Marilyn Einstein” for varying lengths of time. The people who viewed the image for about 30 milliseconds saw only Marilyn while those permitted to see it for least 150 milliseconds were able to process the finer details and see Albert Einstein.

This led the MIT team to conclude that the human brain digests images by first focusing on the bigger picture and then the details. Hence, when it is not given sufficient time, it makes its conclusions based on the initial cursory glance.

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This is not the only fun hybrid picture created by the team that has spent over a decade studying how image illusions. Look closely at the photo above. From a reasonable distance, you will most likely see the man on the top left scowling while the woman on the top right has a neutral emotion. Move away from your computer, and you will notice a drastic change - the angry man turns calm, and the calm woman transforms into an angry male. It may also appear as though the woman on the bottom left is smiling!

Dr. Aude Olivia's team believes that their findings can greatly benefit businesses. For example, it can be used to advertise multiple products with logos that change in appearance as the viewer moves closer or farther away from the image. We think there is an even better use case - to make eye tests a little less scary!


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  • LegoCityman17Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 8:24 am
    Am I seeing things now?
    • jamesa1873
      jamesa1873Monday, December 9, 2019 at 11:13 am
      ya i think we all are
      • kkxx
        kkxxTuesday, March 31, 2020 at 11:49 am
        I agree with you😂😂
    • LegoCityman17Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 8:21 am
      It's Marilyn because if you look at Einstein his face is just looks like someone just doodled on her. Like this post if you do :)
      • chlooe
        chlooeSunday, April 14, 2019 at 11:11 am
        I saw Marilyn first, then Einstein 😂 This was completely creepy.
        • bookstory14
          bookstory14Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm
          Haha, yeah! But it's pretty cool, right?
        • mb2007
          mb2007Friday, April 12, 2019 at 5:55 am
          I saw albert einstein then when i squint it saw marilyn monroe.
        • bookstory14
          bookstory14Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 6:30 pm
          Wow....I saw Marilyn and then Einstein, and it's super weird because on my feed they all look like Marilyn! 😂 I also did the one where the two people switched was super weird! It blurred and then I took another step back and their faces had changed completely! 😯
          • bacon_bitzz
            bacon_bitzzSunday, April 14, 2019 at 9:51 am
            ... Slightly creepy.....😨
            • bookstory14
              bookstory14Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm
              I know right! Makes me wonder if I see things the way they are...
          • bacon_bitzz
            bacon_bitzzWednesday, April 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm
            Woah! I saw from far away Marilyn, and up close, Einstein.
            • audreyhfan
              audreyhfanSaturday, April 11, 2020 at 2:50 pm
              Same! That was so totally creepy but sooooooo cool!
              • bookstory14
                bookstory14Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm
                Me too!
              • Lover255Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 12:56 pm
                This is cool
                • scroly168
                  scroly168Monday, January 28, 2019 at 5:07 pm
                  What did you guys see? I saw Einstien the whole time. Reply and tell m what you saw!
                  • jamesa1873
                    jamesa1873Monday, December 9, 2019 at 11:10 am
                    i saw Monroe grow a beard and turn into Einstien it was weird
                    • kellencatmaster
                      kellencatmasterWednesday, April 10, 2019 at 8:56 am
                      I saw a blur for 5 secs, then Monroe for 1/2 sec and Einstien for the rest.
                    • mileyj
                      mileyjThursday, December 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm
                      This is crazy
                      • ARSHFriday, September 21, 2018 at 8:05 am