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SARASOTA, Fla. – Collaborating with Presidential Fellow Emily Knight, Bucknell professor Art Shapiro enjoyed his second win in three years at the Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest.

The contest, hosted by the Neural Correlate Society, was held at a May 12 event coinciding with the 2007 Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting in Sarasota, Fla.

Knight, a rising senior, was the only undergraduate participating in the contest and earned high praise from vision scientists for her presentation of “Swimmers, Eels and Other Gradient-Gradient Illusions.”

Shapiro-Knight collaboration
Ultimately, however, the third place winner was another Shapiro-Knight collaboration, “Where Has All the Motion Gone?” It shows how blur can add motion to an illusion, which is interesting from a scientific standpoint because blur does not physically add information.

“You only have five minutes and you have to try to balance emphasizing the science with making an interesting and entertaining presentation,” Shapiro said. “In this case, the crowd went with the science.”

The members of the audience voted at the end by secret ballot, putting “Where Has All the Motion Gone?” in the top three, behind “The Leaning Tower Illusion” (Kingdom, Yoonessi, and Gheorghiu; McGill University, Canada) and “The Illusory Contoured Tilting Pyramid” (Guardini and Gamberini; University of Padova, Italy).

Vision Sciences Society
Shapiro also served this year as co-organizer of a popular Vision Sciences Society event called “Demo Night” with Richard Brown of The Exploratorium and gave two presentations on his research for the main portion of the conference.

Shapiro and Knight were very pleased with the recognition. After taking first place in 2005 and third place this year, Shapiro joked that his kids told him, “I hope next year you get second.”

The top 10 finalist illusions are now viewable online. More illusions can be seen at Shapiro’s website.

Posted May 23, 2007

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