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Very Like a Whale
Optical Illusions

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Optical Illusions

Shakespeare for Kids

Simon Fokke. Afbeelding der eerst uitslaande Vlamme.. Amsterdam, 1772. Courtesy of The Richard Balzer Collection.

Artist Simon Fokke made this image of a fire that appears 3D. He even made small holes to allow light to shine through, making it look like the picture is really burning. The fire in the picture really happened. In the city of Amsterdam in 1772, a theater caught on fire during a performance, and 18 people died.


Many scientists have been interested in how to create tricks, or illusions. One scientist who worked hard in this area was named Athanasius Kircher. Kircher built a machine that used shadows and mirrors to reflect shapes and make it look as if they were part of a human body. One trick he had was to give a person the head of a donkey! Kircher believed in explaining that his machines worked by science, not magic. In fact, Kircher is known for helping to make optical illusions easier to understand and less mysterious.

Kircher. Physiologia Kircheriana experimentalis … Amsterdam, 1680

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