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By on March 22, 2006, with 121 Comments

Try to solve the following enigma. The following piece of aluminium was neither thinned not elongated. And no pieces were added. It was not a sphere or a cylinder. So how can it have this shape now?


Bent Aluminium Optical Illusion

Comments

121 Responses
  1. JB says:

    There are two pieces of metal overlapping on the bottom strip where as on the top one they are no longer overlapping and someone just bent them up.

  2. Fred Marijuana says:

    I don’t understand the question.

  3. Drumr says:

    umm, you can see theres two pieces of metal the same length, one attached to either side of the outer part on the bpttom horizontal bar. the black little metal nubs were disconnected for the top piece and made into that shape… easy really.

  4. Drumr says:

    sorry for tripple post…

    i didnt see JBs entry before i submitted mine.

    w/e

  5. James says:

    I think the problem is how is there two strips in each of the two center crossings, while at the top and bottom, there are only one. Where did the extra material come from.

    In regards to that, I am stumped.

  6. Wubby says:

    I think the question is “How can this single peice have this shape?” If it was, say a stamped sheet, it can’t. The two overlapping strips are the enigma, The ones that are bent up are to illustrate this.

  7. Kennedy says:

    Yes, that portion is obvious.
    But look more carefully-
    the rectangle around the perimeter is unbroken.
    How did they do that!?!?

  8. Bob says:

    The point is that the whole thing is manufactured out of one sheet. The perimeter is one solid piece, a sort of 0 on a seven segment LED, In one piece, one thickness. The inner sections are doubled, two thicknessess. How is that possible?

  9. Krumnl says:

    Sorry, but this was totally trivial to see. In fact this was so easy that i believed i misunderstood the question. So how is this even remotely puzzeling?!

  10. Hannes says:

    Now while there are many really good illusions on this webpage, this one is so dumb and easy that it is a shame to show it here, really.

  11. Coleman! says:

    you guys are missing the question
    the pieces overlap, yes.
    therein lies the enigma.
    look allthe way around the figure, it’s one piece of aluminum, so how can there be overlapping parts like that?

  12. Carey says:

    I may be wrong, or blind, but i believe that this is one solid rectangle of aluminum. but how can the center have overlapping parts if it is one piece. the fact that the top half is bent up makes no difference, and it only further demonstrates that there is more metal in the center than there should be.

  13. James says:

    This would be possible if a sheet was formed, cut and unfolded – imagine the shape similar to the letter E – not the solid of the E but the spaces around the letter (an inverse E I suppose). Form this shape, cut and unfold along the top to bottom axis.

  14. mathew says:

    is it cut from a sheet, or carved from a solid block?

  15. cella says:

    HA HA HA!!!

  16. Gary says:

    I am thinking that the item is not actually a rectangle. It is a trapezoid that has 1 parallel side much longer than the other. The “overlapping” strips are actually cut next to each other, then twisted up and joined at their ends. The illusion is that the object is photographed with the shorter parallel side closer to the camera than the longer parallel edge so that the cut outs look rectangular but is in actually trapezoidal.

  17. Chris says:

    There is a copy of this illusion at Puzzle World in Wanaka, New Zealand. I saw it many years ago and I have never figured it out. It *is* a rectangle, from memory.

  18. Chris says:

    Can we have the answer, please???!

  19. Frandsen says:

    It’s simple, look at the black-on-white text on the board next to the piece.

    There is one word visible: Welds

  20. Chris says:

    As I seem to recall, there is a “no” in front of “welds”.

  21. Meghan says:

    It’s easy to do if it was carved from a solid block…

  22. Kornbluth says:

    I cannot understand the question. Where is the enigma? Why is this an illusion? Stick to breathing pillows and twirling snakes, aight?

  23. vurdlak says:

    This one was posted for people who can understand. In short, how is it possible to cut single aluminium plate into object you see. how is it possible to get pices to overleap making if the pices together would be as wide as the aluminium board?

  24. jack says:

    “I cannot understand the question. Where is the enigma? Why is this an illusion? Stick to breathing pillows and twirling snakes, aight?”

    and you stick to posting comments about the ‘enigmas’ that you can understand.

    …I think it’s a sheet of aluminium that has been folded and doubled up. If you look carefully at the top corners you can just about see a double layer, but that could just be my imagination. If it is doubled up then it could explain the overlaps easily.

  25. Matt says:

    Can’t one just weld the extra material on to the square, polish it and say it was stamped from one sheet? No enigma here…

  26. DADA says:

    Just zoom at the picture and you will find the answer. the 2nd branch from the bottom is overlapping and at the top it’s has been cut and screwed together so you don’t see it because it’s supposed to be in the shadow of the bended piece.
    Sorry for my bad english but I come from germany

  27. Dan says:

    This _is_ the bit of metal at Wanaka, the sign to the left of it is the one they have there.

  28. Spankey says:

    looking at the surrounding rectangle, it has 6 rivets in it that on first impression seem to be of no purpose…
    but it doesnt really help much :(

  29. Ashke says:

    I think there are 2 plausible way for this to have taken shape. The solid block theory is well, solid. The folded idea also seems very possible, that could account for the 6 rivets on the frame.

  30. Brandon says:

    1.Start with a block
    2. Cut the three openings/holes in it. You should now have something that looks like a cinderblock (only with 3 holes).
    3. Everywhere but the middle two strip cut down to a thin strip.
    4. Hollow the two middle strips out from behind.
    5. Make a cut in the middle of each middle strip.
    6. Unfold each middle strip.

    Viola! Because the middle strips went out and around the block they are longer than the ones you left in step 3. By sizing the block right you could make this peice of aluminum.

  31. Puzzled says:

    Hi,

    I saw this in New Zealand, and I couldn’t – and still can’t – figure it out.

    The sign says something like, “no welds, no cuts, no glue”.

    It wasn’t make from a solid block; it was made from a single sheet.

    Note – it’s not aluminium – I think it’s sheet steel.

    I asked them some questions to get this info.I’d love to find out how it can be possible.

    Those two pieces are perfectly aligned, coming out of the piece at exactly 90 degrees. The sheet has not been “turned inside out” or anything.

    They did say that the trick wouldn’t be possible with e.g. a piece of paper.

    Anyone got any ideas?

  32. lorbus says:

    I think it’s a stamped piece.
    The center was stretched a bit more than the frame, and the excess was cut off.

  33. shashi says:

    This is an optical illusion. Take a piece of aluminium shaped like a four pronged E and bend the second prong up, the third prong back onto itself. Now, place a mirror exactly where you bent the third prong and take a picture. Viola, you have the illusion/enigma.

  34. Chris says:

    Except that there is no mirror. You can touch and look at it from every angle.

  35. nxva says:

    You need to look at it from 3 dimensions. Basicallly, start with a block (say, twice the thickness of the desired final thickness) and then cut it diagonally for the frame. The strips in the middle, therefore, will no longer lay flush on the newly-cut frame. You then only have to separate them to achieve the illusion. If you have access to the original material, you can confirm this by looking at the frame. The cross section will not be rectangular, but rather, a parallelogram. I can make diagrams if anyone wants me to.

  36. Kevin says:

    i didn’t understand anything………

  37. Farted says:

    I agree with Kevin and Zack… I don’t know what anyone is talking about.

  38. ihope says:

    Hmm, I got another idea.

    Imagine that the “left” and “right” strips of metal were originally parallel: instead of lying flat on the plane, they would go in the up-down and forward-backward dimensions. These are connected in the frontmost and backmost strips to form an S shape: the bottom of the left strip would connect to the top of the right strip.

    The middle strips would be the same, but not connected: the bottom of the left strip would simply keep on going until it’s near the bottom of the right strip. Likewise, the top of the right strip would go near the top of the right one.

    Anyway, the fundamental problem remains: this shape cannot have been made by cutting out a rectangular sheet of metal, then bending it into form.

  39. Bob says:

    Are the overlapping and curved-up crossbars half as thick as the frame? like did the ‘slit’ the panel halfway through it’s thickness? So like the frame is 6mm thick and the crosspieces are 3mm thick?

  40. Thinksmegotit says:

    Cut the outline you see in the picture. The rectangle with two crossbars. Slicing the two crossbars along there thin edges would give you two cross bars overlapping.

  41. Chain says:

    But that would be equivalent to “thinning” it. Also, stretching the crossing bars would also be a solution. However both theese techniques are not used according to the description.

    So how to cut this from one sheet of metal (without welding)?
    Well, since someone metioned that this was something that couldn’t be reproduced with e.g. paper, my theory is that the original outside shape when cutting the sheet was not a rectangle, but a parralellogram (not a trapesiod, that would require elongating again, also a trick of perspective isn’t possible since it could be picked up and studied).

    It’s a bit tough to explain, but drawn on paper it’s seems simple.
    I made a wonderful illustration/photomanipulation in photoshop showing the original cutout vs. the finished shape, but (i’m on a *cough* mac) photoshop crashed when i clicked save as… So no illustration for you.
    I’ll try to explain it instead. *sigh*
    Imagine the left/right sides to be paralell and of equal length. Imagine the top and bottom to be that as well. Now, skew the right side downwards (making roughly 6 degree angles in the corners) about the thickness of one of the middle bars. Now imagine the middle bars. Two from the left, and two from the right. They will now not overlap, but just be next to eachother. Imagine this cut out from the metal sheet.
    Now, apply force to push the right side up so that the middle bars must overlap. This will bend/deform the metal a little bit in each corner, but metal bends so it should not be noticable.

    At least. That’s my theory and it’s the only possible solution i can think of given the circumstances.

  42. Tony says:

    i think its basically a diamondshape, cut with the four bars, then bent to place, so the four bars overlap.
    if you do the math by computer, it would be possible to calculate where to deform it.

  43. chelsea says:

    thats no bent.its the stupid reflection of the two connected bars on top.i lke it tho

  44. xrobbyrob says:

    i think Chain, in responce #42 is correct with his analogy. good job

  45. cutter says:

    i dont know

  46. JuzAboutIt says:

    I agree with xrobbyrob. I think chain is actually correct.

    Initially, the sheet was a parallelogram. not a square or rectangle…

    Cut the four centre strips side by side.

    Force the parallelogram into a rectangle.

    The centre strips must overlap…

    Hold it in place with the six rickets…

    Chain, you’re a genius….

  47. no one important says:

    took me a while to read it.. i’m tired as hell… but I spotted the how it was done in less than a second… poorly done.

  48. lulu says:

    what illusion am i supposed to see here???

    the two strips in the middle are just bent upwards.

    i don’t get what you’re asking

    xx

  49. kakarott says:

    chain

    why bother bending the whole frame when you can just bend the centre pieces? cut the sheet like in the following (Fantastic) diagram and then bend them towards the middle?
    |/ |
    | /|
    it’ll take less effort ;)

    yeah i don’t think we’ve got it quite yet. cos if that’s the answer then that’s just stupid. it’s gotta be more ingenious than that to put on display.

  50. yemoja says:

    heated and bent?

  51. M 2 the H O says:

    the liquid alliminium was poured into a mold,
    not that hard

  52. MMM says:

    easy!!! it was like this:

    1
    _____________________
    _____________________

    2

    / \

    / \

    ____________/ \_____________

    3

    ||
    ||
    ||
    ||
    ||
    ||
    ||
    _____________________ / \______________________

  53. Connie says:

    ummm.. can any of you say….”welded” It is very obvious by seeing it the word in the pic also.

  54. Br says:

    Its cleverl but rather simple, cut from a sphere. Think of it as globe frame (with grid rather than full solid) say cut the globe at +20 degress Lattitude and -20 degrees lattitude and +30 degrees (u could still use 20 as such) longitude and -30 degrees longitude. That will form a rectangle of sorts with long mid section and small top and bottom sections.In order to make it a real rectangle you would have to cut the mid sections which forms the douple layer (of the middle horizontal strips) that’s shown here. The rivets are just for show.

    Clever..aiye!!!

  55. alana says:

    im confuzzeled. was it welded? bent? overlapping the someone stuck it up? does anyone really know 4 sure except the person that did it? no one really knows for sure.

  56. Fabrice says:

    The Vulva warped it to it’s current shape.

  57. person says:

    its against a mirror

  58. Terry H. says:

    The answer is within your own mind’s eye, if you can remember the word ‘reflection’ on the top end of the picture. To reflect the top horizontal strip will give an added dimension that sends the human mind’s eye on vacation for a moment… then it becomes obvious, in my mind’s eye, anyway…

  59. Terry H. says:

    REFLECTION FROM BENEATH!

  60. bonko says:

    wat if it’s just a picture? and not aluminium at all??

  61. Luke says:

    That is stupid
    2 pieces of metal, one on top of the other.
    Its in plain view that way!

  62. Yo says:

    It’s carved from a block of metal.

  63. CoolKidWithTooMuchTIme says:

    omg Photoshop.

  64. Elum says:

    what JB said at the top is correct… the bottom strips at the bottom are not bent they are over lapping but on the top they are bent up and held together quite clearly by what I believe is a bolt… placed through the holes…..

  65. Elum says:

    Never mind, I see what is being asked now, forgive me… I am not sure how this would be done then with out doing what Yo said

  66. Elum says:

    Chain I like your theory the most, it makes sence… and it is a an object, not just photoshop or mirrors….

  67. gordy says:

    It has been cast and then bent into shape

  68. Anonymous says:

    Connie you idiot, It says, no welds in the explanation. Chain makes the most sense, given the circumstances. The rest of you are pathetic.

  69. Elliexx ANIMALS ROCK!! says:

    yeh u can tell that they were overlapping – and that on the bottom strip they r overlapping

  70. PLEASE READ says:

    I don’t know whether anybody will be bothered to look down this far because I didn’t so i don’t know if this had been said or not.

    I can see one possible weld joint on the bottom right corner. But i can’t see one at the top.

  71. james. says:

    I was in wanaka yesterday and spent ages agonising over it. I like chains explanation in 42 and i did notice some evidane of deformation in the corners. The staff there will not tell you the solution but if you give them an explanation they will say if your right.

  72. JQST says:

    How about this shape?
    _____________________
    | ____ _____ __ |
    \ \###| | |###| | |#\ \
    \ \##| | |###| | |##\ \
    \ \#|_| |###|_| |###\ \
    |_____________________|
    then lift up one end sligtly and tap into a rectangle
    ___ __
    \__\ ==> |__|
    with the middle peace overlapping
    ___________________
    | ___ ___ __ |
    \ \###| |###| |###\ \
    \ \###| |###| |###\ \
    \ \###|_|###|_|###\ \
    |___________________|

  73. Anonymous says:

    I just want to say: “READ the other posts BEFORE posting your own comment.”

    I too believe Chain is correct in his theory, and him having post 42 makes it just a bit more likely (Answer to life, the Universe and Everything.)

  74. karlijn says:

    Somebody thought about Photoshop?

  75. ZetaZeta says:

    I’m thinking that maybe it was cut similar to this:

    |=======|
    |…….|
    |=======|
    |=======|
    |…….|
    |=======|
    |=======|
    |…….|
    |=======|

    Where the single cut is a top bar, a bottom bar, and two inner “double bars” each separated from the frame opposite their partner. From there you would lift each of the inner ones and overlap them. (bad text example:)

    |=======|
    |…….|
    |===\ |
    | \===|
    |…….|
    |===\ |
    | \===|
    |…….|
    |=======|

    Depending on the width of the whole sheet or the angle you view it at, it would *appear* that the doubled up single inner bars meet the sides at the same point on either side. In this picture, in fact, it almost appears as though the lower unbent doubled up bar is higher on the right side than it is on the left. It’s hard to tell from this picture though.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Me no get it…

  77. Anonymous says:

    it is easy to figure out if you just look at the other strip of metal, there are actually two strips of metal and one is going across the other!

  78. Anonymous says:

    theres two peices of metal on the straight one you dipshits
    they just didnt add the screws, bent them upwards and ‘tried’ to fool you
    laaaame illusion
    expecially since i can see the ‘trick’ without someone having to tell me

  79. Ani says:

    um.. a possible way of doing this is by creating that sheet of aluminum with four normal arms and then cutting through from the left side of the arms along their thickness…(it really is difficult to explain in mere words..)Just so u get the ill point out that after the work is done, the thickness(not the width, not the length, the THICKNESS) of the overlapping arms will be half the thickness of the rest of the thing.. This is why it is almost impossible to do it with paper(like one of them here pointed out..) because paper alreay it too thin and u cant cut through its thickness (unless its some sort of “two-ply” tissue paper or something..)

    • kid says:

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

      yall are WAY overthinking this

      the bottom straight plate is actually two that lay one over the other
      thats how they get that “mountain”
      the two pieces of metal are as long as the rectangle is wide so they can peak like that

  80. Anonymous says:

    Ani has got it. It’s a symmetrical object so think about reflection and think laterally about what it might mean to “cut” a sheet of metal. How many ways can you cut a sheet 8mm thick? Horizontally? Vertically? Laterally?!

  81. Anonymous says:

    To anyone who has said ‘Photoshop’. Do the world a favour and stop breathing. This is an actual physical exhibit. Having seen it myself in Wanaka I think that Chain (no. 42) has offered the only sensible solution in relation to the actual problem, which I have to say isn’t clearly defined on this page.

  82. Tobie says:

    Following on the idea that Chain(42) gave I think i also have a possible answer: Imagine a flat but elliptical shape of aluminium sheet. Now take the shape in question and “elliptically” apply is to the elliptical sheet of aluminium (i.e. the long sides of the sheet in question was the short sides of the elliptical sheet of aluminium). With a little bit of tapping on the short sides of the elliptical sheet, you can bend them to become straight but ofcourse the inside bars would them overlap, which is exactly what we want! The longer edges of the elliptical sheet was simply cut off straight to form the short sides of the sheet in question!! :)

  83. paul says:

    ohhhhhkay… we have metal of all kinds, tooled and died into technological marvels like internal combustion engines, spacecraft, automatic weapons, or precision clockwork, and you all are marveling at a piece of aluminum with overlapping bars. arguably not an easy task but hardly worth any disbelief, i should think.

  84. Ryan says:

    It’s called welding. ^_^

  85. idle_knight says:

    quite good explanation from Chain(#42) yet one certain factor affects the theory(an aluminum sheet from parallelogram to rectangular shape) w/c is deformation on its corners!if the cutting pattern is done precisely wherein the slant width of the parallelogram is almost vertical then fabricating this cut piece into its final form a rectangular shape will have a negligible deformation!you can check me out if you want the visualisation of the cut out piece.(autocad program)

  86. matthew says:

    The bent rhombus idea makes the most sense.

  87. the David says:

    What optical illusion are they talking about.
    The lower portion has two overlapping pieces whereas the top portion they didn’t overlap and they just screwed them together.

  88. tsk tsk tsk tsk Its NOT VERY Hard Look at the other one thats strapped down…cant you see its overlapped?? Duuuuuh All we have to do is just unscrew those nails holding them down try to bend both of them the oposite dirrection and then when there good enough let go and they slam together creating what you see now

    REMEMBER Illusions are simpiliar then you think!

  89. Jesse says:

    thanks luke and all those who saw it before. the bottom cross section has another piece underneath it. the top was placed like that, might have been tacked but i doubt it.

  90. Tracy says:

    It’s two pieces of aluminum overlapping each other that have been lifted up to lean against each other. The cross bar shows two pieces overlapping below. Sorry, but this one was really obvious…

  91. Austin says:

    if you look really closely at the bottom one it looks like theres one piece of metal over the other

  92. Zerro says:

    It’s bendable….lol look at the bottom it overlapped….they just made the shape like that by bending it and then bolted it…just a theory though

  93. liam says:

    if you look closely at the collim beneath it and look to the left of it you will see that theirs two layers so they just unscrewed it then bent it up then screwed it back together forming a different shape

  94. tristan says:

    if you look at the 3rd line (from the top), you can see on its right side that one sheet is nailed (or screwed, or whatever) to the one below it.

  95. bryce says:

    you guys/gals r over thinking it way too much. if you view the bottom cross bar(middle steel thingy(the one the flat)) look in the middle of it… do you see how it is symmetrically cut? if your not getting my wind here let me say this! BEND THE tWo SEPERATE Peices of metal up ( the one opposite the tall medal thingy. if you still not understand then either you cant comprehend me or your taking my meanning to high in standerds. hope this clear it up.

  96. amanda says:

    bryce is right. thats stupid

  97. Cory says:

    Bryce is right. look to the left of the left rivet. you can clearly see the edge and upper corner of the piece coming from the right

  98. sephiroth2308 says:

    There are actually two pieces of metal, one on top, one on the bottom, look at the lower one, there is something underneath it.

  99. somebody says:

    i think there is only 1 piece but the pieces in the middle over lap each other

  100. Jack says:

    this ones kinda stupid…

  101. Ivy says:

    I think it might be doable using a brick shape.

    Imagine a slab of brick, use the 2 sides of the brick to cut the “E” shapes, and for the top/bottom frame (that is shorter than the middle) cut diagonally into the brick.

  102. Andrew says:

    Poured into a mold. Start with a wax shape, form it how you want, cover it with clay/plaster/sand, melt the wax out, pour in molten metal, let cool

  103. Tabitha says:

    Mirror on the left.

  104. nelson says:

    Its as Andrew has commented, aluminium is a cast metal that can be formed into any mold or shape you desire. Once cast the shape can then be bent into the above configuration.

  105. nick says:

    its boobs

  106. Cyphis says:

    Is there a solution to this? I can’t even figure out what the problem is.

  107. ryen says:

    it is simple look at the lower one.When you cearfully look you will see that there are two :one above other

  108. :| says:

    It’s one piece, but if you look closely you can see the frame but in the middle, there are 4 pieces sticking out not just to, the to at the bottom are over lapping, but the two at the top were bent

  109. Dan says:

    So the problem is, if it is one solid piece that is neither thin nor elongated, then it should not be possible that the middle two strips meet and overlap. But they do. How? The answer is that through a clever amount of bending and possibly pounding the edge strips are moved in parallel to each other but making the “box” trapezoid until the middle strips that used to be parallel are now facing each other. The illusion is completed by re-cutting until the trapezoid is again at right angles.

  110. don says:

    no look at the metal that is normal can’t you see that there are two aluminum strips that are overlapping each other.

  111. wynwlkr says:

    Well, I guess I’m stupid. What is the answer?

  112. astrid says:

    um its kindof obvious that they are overlapping! not really amazing….

  113. kid says:

    yall are WAY overthinking this

    the bottom straight plate is actually two that lay one over the other
    thats how they get that “mountain”
    the two pieces of metal are as long as the rectangle in aid so they can peak like that

  114. Leon says:

    I have seen this in person. It is not welded or cast and the centre pieces are the same thickness as the rest of the unit. It clearly says it is sheetmetal and cannot be made with a piece of paper which tends to indicate plastic deformation is required – hence chain’s answer is probably the best

  115. Red says:

    look at the middle peice. it was built one ontop of the other. if you zoom in, you can see that its built like so, meaning that the other is the same way, so you can bend those two just like how its made

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