The Illusion Only Some Can See

Ames window illusion illustrates how we don't directly perceive external reality. Special Holiday deal! Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get 68% off a 2 year plan plus 4 additional months free. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
Special thanks to:
Prof. Phil Kellman from UCLA Psychology
Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles for the use of their Ames Room
Curiosity Show - Video on Ames Illusion:
Ames, A., Jr. (1951). Visual perception and the rotating trapezoidal window. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 65(7), i-32.
Marcel de Heer & Thomas V. Papathomas (2017) The Ames Window Illusion and Its Variations
Oross, Stephen, Francis, Ellie, Mauk, Deborah & Fox, Robert. (1987). The Ames Window Illusion: Perception of Illusory Motion by Human Infants. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 13(4), 609-613.
Behrens, R. (1987). The Life and Unusual Ideas of Adelbert Ames, Jr. Leonardo, 20(3), 273-279. doi:10.2307/1578173
Burnham, C., & Ono, H. (1969). Variables Altering Perception of the Rotating Trapezoidal Illusion. The American Journal of Psychology, 82(1), 86-95. doi:10.2307/1420609
Allport, G. W., & Pettigrew, T. F. (1957). Cultural influence on the perception of movement: The trapezoidal illusion among Zulus. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55(1), 104-113.
Zenhausern R. Effect of Perspective on Two Trapezoid Illusions. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1969;28(3):1003-1009. doi:10.2466/pms.1969.28.3.1003
Gehringer, W. L., & Engel, E. (1986). Effect of ecological viewing conditions on the Ames' distorted room illusion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 12(2), 181-185.
Long, G.M., Toppino, T.C. Adaptation effects and reversible figures: A comment on Horlitz and O’Leary. Perception & Psychophysics 56, 605-610 (1994).
Gregory RL. Looking through the Ames window. Perception. 2009;38(12):1739-40. doi: 10.1068/p3812ed. PMID: 20192124.
Jahoda, G. (1966). Geometric illusions and environment: A study in Ghana. British Journal of Psychology, 57(1-2), 193-199.
V. Mary Stewart (1974) A Cross-Cultural Test of the “Carpentered World” Hypothesis Using The Ames Distorted Room Illusion, International Journal of Psychology, 9:2, 79-89, DOI: 10.1080/00207597408247094
Margaret Kathleen Cappone (1966) The Effect of Verbal Suggestion on the Reversal Rate of the Ames Trapezoid Illusion, The Journal of Psychology, 62:2, 211-219, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.1966.10543786
Researched and written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Animations, VFX, and Music by Jonny Hyman
Ames Room VFX and additional Ames Window animation by Nicolas Pratt
Additional Music from "Life in Color" "Singularity"
Large Ames window construction by GW Construction
Video supplied by Getty Images


  1. Unknown Person

    Unknown Person

    Πριν 36 λεπτά

    I've seen the illusion in the past which creates a vaguely weird thing actually, in that I can occasionally see through the illusion (you being inside of it, or it being shot from outside your house), yet other times like when the rubics cube is attached I get incredibly tripped up by it.

  2. Timothy Liu

    Timothy Liu

    Πριν ώρα

    One of the best illusion, after watch it a while my mind adjusts and can see the rotation sometimes.

  3. Silentspeaker3


    Πριν 2 ώρες

    Once you showed your giant window, I was able to see all models as rotating

  4. Bradley Miller

    Bradley Miller

    Πριν 2 ώρες

    I would be able to determine if you'd stop breaking away from the rotation. I don't get to look at it long enough to know or see anything. Idiots.

  5. Insufferable KnowItAll

    Insufferable KnowItAll

    Πριν 3 ώρες

    Oh the irony XD

  6. RayWilliamJohansen


    Πριν 3 ώρες

    What if space is like that

  7. Milo Häggström

    Milo Häggström

    Πριν 3 ώρες


  8. Wilhelmus Hoffmann

    Wilhelmus Hoffmann

    Πριν 3 ώρες


  9. AshiStarshade


    Πριν 4 ώρες

    With your NordVPN examples of blackout and other things: you are advocating engaging in illegal activity rather than using VPN in innocuous ways.

  10. deanmoncaster


    Πριν 4 ώρες

    at 11:55 i saw both at the same time.....argh!!

  11. deanmoncaster


    Πριν 4 ώρες

    i saw the skull right off the bat

  12. Mark Stephen

    Mark Stephen

    Πριν 4 ώρες

    It is not oscillating in my view

  13. Marek Staněk

    Marek Staněk

    Πριν 5 ώρες

    As long as the window is the only thing in the picture, my brain sees the illusion, but once Derek is in the scene, I see it correctly. WTF?

  14. Charles Cano

    Charles Cano

    Πριν 5 ώρες

    Sometimes I see it normally

  15. CP Mills

    CP Mills

    Πριν 5 ώρες

    lmao The "Iron"y Indeed!

  16. Westley Hallahan

    Westley Hallahan

    Πριν 5 ώρες

    The cheap velvet definitely drip because sofa pharmacodynamically lick towards a dashing answer. unusual, synonymous sphynx

  17. Zach natez.

    Zach natez.

    Πριν 6 ώρες

    AI is really good at this right now. I love watching Tesla auto pilot fails.

  18. Jordan bickett

    Jordan bickett

    Πριν 6 ώρες

    9:59 this wasn't obvious?

  19. Heavy Metal Mechanic

    Heavy Metal Mechanic

    Πριν 7 ώρες

    6:17 Im glad you brought up the distance. I can see both (I paused so I dont know what you will say next), but I had noticed that you were using either a telefoto lense for the rubics cube and ruler part, and those are harder to gauge due to the less acute perspective distortion.

  20. Kanishk Mandpe

    Kanishk Mandpe

    Πριν 7 ώρες

    i cant be the only one who can see it rotating and also going side to side whenever i want .................or maby i am

  21. Anthony Dunn

    Anthony Dunn

    Πριν 7 ώρες

    i found that if you follow one side of the illusion, then it breaks down a little bit and for just a quick second, I could actually see it rotating.

  22. HarshVardhan Arya

    HarshVardhan Arya

    Πριν 7 ώρες

    Me watching the illusion at .25x

  23. johnny gigolo

    johnny gigolo

    Πριν 7 ώρες

    The curly sofa beverly close because periodical lilly join versus a poised snowplow. milky, smooth silver

  24. marty k

    marty k

    Πριν 8 ώρες

    Looks like the work of the devil but it Is so freaking cool.

  25. Don Anders

    Don Anders

    Πριν 8 ώρες

    You just gave all Flat Earthers hope! 🤣

  26. Uncle Creepy

    Uncle Creepy

    Πριν 8 ώρες

    You basically have to watch it spin without paying attention for it to work. If you genuinely watch it, you see it spinning and not oscillating.

  27. over mind

    over mind

    Πριν 9 ώρες

    you did it you finally found the glitch of the simulation

  28. panda4247


    Πριν 10 ώρες

    16:54 oh the irony, hahaha!

  29. Thanya Sriklai

    Thanya Sriklai

    Πριν 10 ώρες

    I can kinda see it rotating..

  30. Nickolas Smith

    Nickolas Smith

    Πριν 10 ώρες

    The large salary revealingly train because sailor controversly communicate till a gorgeous push. sordid, ignorant vessel

  31. greennin


    Πριν 10 ώρες

    Great video. All this VPN promotion stuff is going to go downhill in a year or two. Companies are gonna sue. There are licenses and contracts for specific areas and basically promoting VPNs is circumventing that. It'll all be gone soon. Hopefully the youtubers (who don't know any better about the law) won't be too badly affected. Don't mind me, just predicting the future

  32. Alejandro García

    Alejandro García

    Πριν 10 ώρες

    The more you stare at it, the more the illussion starts to break.. 🤔

  33. Durragas


    Πριν 10 ώρες

    To be honest, the brain uses much more than just intuition of rectangles. As he pointed out, illumination is very important, and in fact it was a lot easier to follow the rotating motion on the big window he built in his house. The one with the Rubik's cube had a completely black background and and near perfect illumination.

  34. Glen M

    Glen M

    Πριν 11 ώρες

    I couldnt see it rotating until 11:45 then I figured out if you look at the top of the small side and just focus on that you can see it roate without issue. But when looking at other parts it goes back to the illusion.

  35. Yugeindrah Ravi

    Yugeindrah Ravi

    Πριν 12 ώρες

    My Brain... *IT TREMBLES* ‼️

  36. Peter Cetera

    Peter Cetera

    Πριν 12 ώρες


  37. Marc-Elian Bégin

    Marc-Elian Bégin

    Πριν 13 ώρες

    Brilliant. I love it. The brain is such a marvelous, yet unreliable on its own, machine. I also love your conclusion. There’s little room for absolutes in science. A good litmus test when voicing opinions on current health matters.

  38. null234


    Πριν 13 ώρες

    weirdly i can see both i can switch between seeing the illusion and the real thing

  39. ZWMonkey


    Πριν 14 ώρες

    I actually could see the Rubik's cube and the ruler rotating when I concentrated on it, but it kind of made my brain hurt....

  40. Kind Old Raven

    Kind Old Raven

    Πριν 14 ώρες

    The oval/egg shaped one I can clearly see rotating, but the window one? Nope.

  41. R C

    R C

    Πριν 15 ώρες

    I've seen similar examples of this illusion. Relaxed I see it oscillating but can usually concentrate and force myself to see it rotating. Not so with this example. Even when you put the ruler and rubik's cube in it my mind said "WTF"? Only when you put yourself through the window did I see a difference. Seeing you from the front I saw the trippy illusion. From the back I saw the truth. I can only guess it's the angle of your legs. The bend in your knees spoils the illusion.

  42. Somenath Garai

    Somenath Garai

    Πριν 15 ώρες

    This is some CG Voodoo magic.

  43. Nick Corbett

    Nick Corbett

    Πριν 16 ώρες

    I can see it and not see it at the same time depending on what I focus on as a point of reference.

  44. Bibo S.

    Bibo S.

    Πριν 16 ώρες

    So long as another object is attached, I can actually see it just fine.... by itself I lose too many brain cells trying to figure it out

  45. Philip Peterson

    Philip Peterson

    Πριν 17 ώρες

    Data is just a measurement, it’s a projection of truth onto a surface. We see it but it is merely a shadow of what is real.

  46. Kinderbloata


    Πριν 18 ώρες

    This video makes me look like dumb

  47. Harsh Adukia

    Harsh Adukia

    Πριν 19 ώρες

    I think I am one of the "some" who can see the illusion.

  48. The Blakeslee’s

    The Blakeslee’s

    Πριν 19 ώρες

    Oh man I think this gave me aneurysm

  49. Me my opinion Sche

    Me my opinion Sche

    Πριν 19 ώρες

    That's soooo weird/

  50. Notta Coolguy

    Notta Coolguy

    Πριν 19 ώρες

    You can see it of you focus on the back edge and remind yourself it's coming towards you. Even then, I only see the correct rotation half the time.

  51. Adroid Advice

    Adroid Advice

    Πριν 20 ώρες

    So a 3D illusion in 2 dimensions? Yeah it doesn't work.

  52. Raja Muhammad Awwabin

    Raja Muhammad Awwabin

    Πριν 20 ώρες

    This is witch craft

  53. AJ Cubed

    AJ Cubed

    Πριν 21 ώρα

    i can flip flop between the illusion and what is really happening.

  54. Matías D

    Matías D

    Πριν 21 ώρα

    Awesome video. You also help my improve my english ear.

  55. georgetheonlyporge


    Πριν 21 ώρα

    Mind-blowing stuff.

  56. Rowena Gabriel

    Rowena Gabriel

    Πριν 21 ώρα

    I can gain more knowledge about him😭🥰🥰

  57. Cantona777 Eric

    Cantona777 Eric

    Πριν 21 ώρα

    Very fascinating... How did the researchers define/quantify “showing interest” in the baby experiment? Was it the frequency at which the babies glanced at, touched, or interacted with the regular window vs. the distorted one?

  58. Jay Bean

    Jay Bean

    Πριν 21 ώρα

    very cool

  59. Superkittyb2000


    Πριν 23 ώρες

    Yeah I can pick what I see is that normal?

  60. ahmed tayyab

    ahmed tayyab

    Πριν ημέρα

    Finally I see it rotating at 12:13

  61. Pink Cube

    Pink Cube

    Πριν ημέρα

    it's weird because i can see both the illusion *and* the actual movement at the same time, which is slightly trippy ngl

  62. Lobos222


    Πριν ημέρα

    Brain: "I dont have enough power to render everything. What do I do?" Soul: "Well, humans are superstitious." Brain: "Ahhh, I see what you mean, just make up the rest and not render it at all. Stupid humans."

  63. Aria


    Πριν ημέρα

    Hey! If I really focus and force my brain to see it normally, I don't actually see the illusion! It just looks normal!!! cool :)))))

  64. MissEnefiok


    Πριν ημέρα

    You should check out the work of Swedish director Roy Andersson. He uses a similar technique in his work. Every shot in every scene of his movies is an Ames room. It's quite remarkable really. The camera remains in the correct position, as the scenes play out. I'm talking crazy elaborate scenes, it's just beautiful.

  65. Joe the Stack

    Joe the Stack

    Πριν ημέρα

    Nice. I love it. 5 stars!

  66. cat of all games and gamers

    cat of all games and gamers

    Πριν ημέρα

    OMG I CAN SEE IT ROTATING AND NOT GOING BACK AND FORTH!!!! (focus your eyes and TRY to see what's ACCTUALLY happening)

  67. Poképro


    Πριν ημέρα


  68. Wejedah


    Πριν ημέρα

    I see the rotation as well

  69. Tyson Zelmer

    Tyson Zelmer

    Πριν ημέρα

    I see the illusion every time though when you were in the window it didn’t work

  70. Vidit Shrivastava

    Vidit Shrivastava

    Πριν ημέρα

    Are we living in an illusion ?? Or is this world for real.

  71. Eti the Spirit

    Eti the Spirit

    Πριν ημέρα

    I can track the window doing a rotation if I focus on the upper point of the small side, and trace out the circular path in my mind. Interestingly, this is the only illusion where I have to actively "fight" myself seeing it the wrong way. If for any moment I stop thinking about that path consciously, and just focus on the fact that it's a thing that's spinning, I lose track of it and it goes back to that oscillation.

  72. cpt nordbart

    cpt nordbart

    Πριν ημέρα

    Great as a guy who can only see with one eye I'm easily fooled... But not always. interesting thing.

  73. richard mcpherson

    richard mcpherson

    Πριν ημέρα

    One of the biggest pieces to this illusion is the way that it's "shadowed" because its shadowed the same on both sides it makes it hard for the brain interpret which way it spins. Hence why the lighting has to be just right. I feel as though the shadow has just as much to do with this illusion as the trapezoidal shape of the object.

  74. Samichisgoodyum


    Πριν ημέρα


  75. Dirk Coffel

    Dirk Coffel

    Πριν ημέρα

    The humorous increase multivariably guard because diamond scully snow with a useful tachometer. next, delicate clerk

  76. Dirk Coffel

    Dirk Coffel

    Πριν ημέρα

    The female fertile daisy randomly attempt because road microbiologically carry by a helpful pelican. teeny-tiny, mysterious sailor

  77. Adam Guymon

    Adam Guymon

    Πριν ημέρα

    I was born legally blind. I have some vision but I can and can't see other things. I wonder if there are ways that this type of thing can be different due to how someone can or can't see something? I think that it would be cool to do some experiments where you take people who have different visual disabilities and have them look at different objects and in different lights. Throw in some things that would use special lenses cut differently to see if you could take that shape and make it look different from someone who has perfect vision? You talked about how a baby that is young can't see something while a baby that is older can see something? It would be interesting to find out if there are different things that can help people who are legally blind to be able to see things better just by using optical illusions? This could help different forms of construction of buildings and streets etc to be designed so people who can't see very well to have the ability to see them and access them better?

  78. John M

    John M

    Πριν ημέρα

    @veritasium Your conclusion is the best thing about this video. We should all be scientists of our own views and constantly question and reevaluate and search for alternatives that could broaden our thinking. As soon as we become "convinced" we know something is the moment we should probe, question and look for additional corroborating or contradicting evidence--whether political, personal, religious, or otherwise. The original definition of agnostic as coined by T. H. Huxley is, imo, the most scientific position, and can be applied to more than just a spiritual position: "Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe."

  79. Jouni Kosonen

    Jouni Kosonen

    Πριν ημέρα

    14:47 "These days a lot of people are getting basically the same fundamental information but coming to very different conclusions about the state of reality" That's why it's so important to at least try to approach the provided information from more than one vantage points.

  80. Powerful Gaming

    Powerful Gaming

    Πριν ημέρα

    It doesn't work for me, when there are two ropes holding it. Only on the rotating table with one support, I am confused.

  81. PythonTX


    Πριν ημέρα

    Thats crazy one day of lookin at the windownext day i see it rotating

  82. Jenn


    Πριν ημέρα

    With conscious effort, I was able to perceive the full rotation but it took me a solid full 4 rotations before my brain stopped hurting and started accurately perceiving the fact that it was spinning.

  83. Zombie-Process


    Πριν ημέρα

    If I concentrate really hard, I can force myself to see past the illusion but it takes a ton of effort. This is wild.

  84. Totally normal Videos

    Totally normal Videos

    Πριν ημέρα

    It’s not working for me

  85. Dailen Carter

    Dailen Carter

    Πριν ημέρα

    It took a little brain power, but I did see past the illusions, still gives a headache though.

  86. Jon


    Πριν ημέρα

    Watched the Curiosity Show when I was young. Dean Hutton demonstrated this illusion. You’ve gone into it deeper. Nice.

  87. DrPengin Guitar

    DrPengin Guitar

    Πριν ημέρα

    Clearly this is some Time Lord dimensional engineering going on. Are you secretly Gallifreyan?

  88. Effyplays


    Πριν ημέρα

    wth this is bs I only see rotating

    • Samichisgoodyum


      Πριν ημέρα

      you must be from circle land

  89. Michael Seaver

    Michael Seaver

    Πριν ημέρα

    When the information given to the masses is garbage, people will think garbage is king!

  90. Michael Seaver

    Michael Seaver

    Πριν ημέρα

    Well, You broke physics! Now go to your room.

  91. Mr. G N

    Mr. G N

    Πριν ημέρα

    I did it!!!!!!!!

  92. cas


    Πριν ημέρα

    You broke my brain with the joke

  93. sbeccy


    Πριν ημέρα

    the best moment is when you finally see what’s going on after staring at it for too long

  94. Tyler Stockdale

    Tyler Stockdale

    Πριν ημέρα

    We just crossed over into the twilight zone.

  95. Paul Moomey

    Paul Moomey

    Πριν ημέρα

    Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

  96. Marcus Svensson

    Marcus Svensson

    Πριν ημέρα

    I will use it in class. In a science and art teacher. :)

  97. Grain 567

    Grain 567

    Πριν ημέρα

    everyone: woah weird illusion me: doesnt it look like an iron door :)

  98. Joshua Kovacsics

    Joshua Kovacsics

    Πριν ημέρα

    Stop it

  99. Saqib Tantray

    Saqib Tantray

    Πριν ημέρα

    This is best illusion I have ever seen.

  100. Deadly Golem

    Deadly Golem

    Πριν ημέρα

    The first time i watched it I fell for the trick... but this time (My second time) I can see through it! I think I prefer having my brain fall for it though