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By on January 19, 2010, with 150 Comments

In Which Direction Does It Spin?

In which direction does it spin?

Shown optical illusion just laid there on my hard disk for years. When I opened it today, I couldn’t remember why I placed it in my illusions folder in the first place? After some puzzling, finally I managed to see its visual phenomenon!

Ok, here’s what I want you to do: concentrate on the animated .gif on your right. You’ll quickly realize it represents some sort of see-through sphere, constructed of many dots rotating in one direction. Dots in front make the front face of the sphere, while “background” dots belong to sphere’s back. It’s logical they rotate in opposite directions. Now try and switch those background dots with front-face ones. Notice any change?

If you manage to visualize this, your able to change the direction in which sphere rotates. With some practice, you’ll be able to switch the direction back and forth in very short time fragments. Don’t underestimate yourselves – many individuals have difficulty seeing this type of illusions. It’s not that they’re less worthy, it’s just that their brain operates differently… Which reminded me – did you know that more than 1/3 of all people who went to see Avatar in 3D couldn’t see the image in 3D?

There are many optical illusions of this type available; one of the more popular being Spinning Dancer Optical Illusion. Your best shot of finding more, would be browsing through our Animations category.

Comments

150 Responses
  1. xvarvarax says:

    omg that’s so freaking cool. i love it!

  2. TS!0ne says:

    this is great… at first I didn’t see it rotating the other way, but as I started to read the text, I saw from the corner of my eye, that it was already moving in the other direction :D It’s actually really easy to switch in the end :D

  3. Samuel Coxson says:

    I can make it spin both ways at the same time if I try hard enough. Weird and Cool!

  4. Koaieus says:

    I like it… But when it’s really 3D, shouldn’t the pixels in the back be smaller than the ones up in front? Now it just seems like it’s a bunch of pixels sliding left to right and back…
    So.. in my opinion there is no rotation at all :P

  5. bas says:

    2 moving next t oeachother in the opposite direction of the other

  6. Barbarella says:

    Same as Lorelei…..I see each half of the sphere rotating opposite each other. Freak me out!!

  7. einismotic says:

    Even though you can see it rotating in both directions if you wanted to, there’s only one correct direction, IMO. You can judge by the elevation of the dots. The closer they get to the center of the sphere, the farther they get to the viewer. And of course vice-versa.

  8. Johanna says:

    That is awesome :)

  9. JD says:

    goes to the right then i turn away and look back and its going the other way what the >>>

  10. Dick says:

    I also can make this go both ways at the same time

  11. Julie says:

    i see it! awesome..i see it going forwards & backwards also..once i see that then i can watch it go either direction

  12. mischief says:

    Is it odd that I can see two spheres merging in the center at the same time?, if i chose i can follow one and blur out the other.

  13. Facebook User says:

    Since it’s a flat image with the poles at top and bottom, you can see it spin in either direction if you force your perspective. However, I tend to see it rotate west to east because that’s the way I’m used to thinking about the Earth (and most other planets) rotating.

  14. Matthew says:

    Me Too! (two half spheres rotating in opposite directions)

  15. theo says:

    OK this one is a good one :) well done

  16. Rand Rahl says:

    I see 3 kinds of motion. One is a sphere rotating clockwise. Two is a sphere rotating counter clockwise. Three is two halves of a sphere (split from top to bottom) rotating in opposite directions.

  17. Poshmoog says:

    Very good, the simple ones like this are the best! I can make it change direction but also so that both travel across the foreground simultaniously in opposite directions, crossing over to do the same in the background!

  18. tripped out says:

    trippy!!!!!

  19. siaynoq says:

    I see it splitting too!!

  20. Kacey Myers says:

    this is awesome!!!!! going around in both directions and back and forth into the middle and out lol so cooollll!!!!!

  21. A. Nonny Moose says:

    You serious about the Avatar movie? O_o It looked pretty 3-D to me.

  22. egdirbr says:

    It naturally rotates right to left for me, but I can make it switch with some effort. Very cool effect.

  23. Pavlina says:

    wow, coooooooollll

  24. zumbi says:

    nice observation lorelei!

  25. zumbi says:

    Well, I could perfectly watch Avatar in 3d, but still can’t train my eyes to see that MM’s image.

  26. I have a hard time seeing these types of illusions, but if I don’t focus on it directly, I see the rotational change.

  27. Caio Graco Araujo says:

    Actualy, i saw what you said, and, seeying for some minutes, I can see too another fx…. two halfs of a sphere encountering each other in the center and going to opposite direction..

    Verrrryyy Coool!

    Thanks.

  28. SQ says:

    Wow! I just managed to do something even cooler! I saw two half spheres spinning in opposite directions. Try it!

  29. aronno says:

    i see it in 3 different views; moving left, moving right or two parts going in two different directions merging into each other

  30. aronno says:

    oops srry for the duplicate comments

  31. Para says:

    That’s interesting. I had it rotating like a figure-eight after a couple of attempts.

  32. Janice says:

    I can only see it spinning from left to right.

  33. Chuck says:

    To me, it looks like a bunch of dots going back and forth.

  34. Merry says:

    I love these ones – so simple, but so effective. It took a good long look and some intense concentration to get it to change directions, but it did. Once I got it happening, I noticed there are a couple of points in the rotation where it is easier to switch than others.

  35. Fred says:

    Took me about 10 seconds to see what you were talking about. What’s really crazy is that after another 10-15 seconds it appeared to me that the illusion was spinning in two different directions simultaneously. In other words, it appeared that from the center front of the sphere the dots were flowing away from each other.

  36. ms.wow says:

    as a pro illousionist i would say it isnt moving left or right, its uni not girl, boy, left, right so still! trust me im a pro

  37. Noxie says:

    OMG… I love this illusion… thats so sick!

  38. Kholto says:

    Well, any transparent object (as in, completely transparent, besides some not-overlaying or same-color dots or faces) in a 2D medium (such as your computer screen) will have this effect. It is still pretty cool tho.

  39. This is pretty cool. I can change it almost instantaneously now.

    What I find interesting is that little tidbit about Avatar. I didn’t know people had trouble seeing it in 3D or just plain couldn’t see it in 3D. Odd… I wonder why?

  40. Sammy Salter says:

    ok, here’s a challenge:
    see if you can visualise it as what it truly is: two dimensional dots moving backwards and forwards in a two dimensional plane
    :)

  41. Victor Fan says:

    Cool!!! I now able to see it spinning anyway I want!!!

  42. Lorelei Shark says:

    I also see it splitting in the middle – going forwards and backwards.

  43. I have figurd it out!!! There are 2 illusions actually. The illusion tht it onlii spins in one direction and the second of it being a 3D sphere at all!! Its not a sphere its a circle!! Watch as the individual pixels go from right to left continuosly….giving this circle the illusion of being a sphere and spinning in both directions!! Yay i figured it out all by myself!! If it was really 3D pixels in the bak would be smaller and it would have no choice but to go in one direction or the illusion is ruined!

  44. At first, I saw it one way then the other accidentally. It took me awhile to do it on purpose.

    Also, I couldn’t see the 3D on Journey to the Center of the Earth when I rented it so now, I am afraid to see Avatar because I don’t want to waste the money.

    I can see 3D paintings that use the glasses and I could see the 3D movies on the IMax screens though.

  45. Meerkat says:

    That bit about the Avatar film sounds to me like something from a tabloid newspaper, making over-the-top claims based on little evidence.

    With a Magic Eye/Stereogram, you need to be able to focus each eye on two separate points on the same image, which can be tricky and is why some people can’t view them. With 3D glasses, each eye sees a completely different image because the lenses are polarised. So if you can’t see the 3D system at work in Avatar, you would have no depth perception at all in normal life.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Damnit.

    I had it moving to the left from when I first saw it, then after ten minutes it started moving to the right!

    Othim.

  47. I forgot to add that I was able to see the two half spheres as well. Pretty cool illusion.

  48. Kevin says:

    Its not spinning its just the dots moving

  49. Maria van Keulen says:

    Ridiculous!

  50. Emma says:

    Pretty cool

  51. David says:

    Yupp,Saw all 5 versions:
    ball, rotating left to right,
    ball rotating right to left,
    two hemispheres counterrotating,
    two hemispheres counterrotating the other way
    and 2D dots going back and forth.

    Powerful ;)

  52. Facebook User says:

    wow. this is really cool. it takes me a second or two to change the direction, but its still awesome.

  53. Detective Kitty says:

    After awhile I just see it as a 2-D picture with dots moving back and forth…which I assume is what it really is…

  54. Michael Greensmith says:

    You can change the direction of the sphere and you can also see the two halves moving in opposite directions

  55. zumbi says:

    Yep Sammy, our brain is totally programmed to interpret sinusoidal movement as 3d…

  56. goots says:

    thank you <3

  57. random says:

    It all depends on which dots you see first – the ones going right or the ones going left. Your mind will then give you the illusion that these ‘two dimensional dots’ are actually a rotating sphere

  58. Mrs Salty the yorkshire says:

    i had to go cross eyed for it to work lol

  59. SteepNDeep says:

    One of my favorites. I love the interactive ability to stop the spin and start it in the direction you choose.

    Try letting your eyes go as you would with 3D art.

    Very fun!

  60. ian says:

    Oh man.
    this is my favorite yet. TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

  61. ian says:

    @ms.wow
    What? Your comment makes no sense.

  62. Me says:

    I can see it in 4 views, clockwise, counter clockwise, both at the same time (trippy) and I can see sammys 2d view, it looks like they bounce off the walls and come back to the center. I love this illusion! 5 stars.

  63. ChAoS379 says:

    mmmm…. what i saw was interesting… first i saw it rotating with the front to the right, then i saw it going to the left and fuse with two halfs going in two different ways and then i saw a circle with a bunch of dots while the dots went from one corner to the other, crashing as if making a nice explosive setting, it was nice

  64. Jared says:

    ok but if you look at it as if the two sets of dots are only halves that are going different ways and they PASS each other every spin then it doesn’t even look like it’s spinning all together. just as two separate pieces

  65. jordan says:

    you can look at this three different ways
    1. moving to the left
    2. moving to the right
    3. You can see that both sides of the sphere actually move both ways at the same time

  66. Facebook User says:

    wow i get it, i can see both directions ;)

  67. Klukken says:

    OK looks great at first until you realise that it’s just 2 half-globes rotation each way round.

  68. Joep says:

    Don’t seem to see the world in 3D anyway, so I didn’t notice too much during the movie.

    Nice illusion. I managed to to see both directions and the splitted view

  69. Nobody says:

    way cool. at first glance, i saw it spinning to the right, then it changed according to the perspective i was trying to see.

  70. Chetan says:

    Left!
    as simple as that!

  71. Janmanni says:

    Very nice illusion! First I thought that it is a video where the orb periodically changes direction. But it is actually controllable. When there is that big pile up of dots in the middle, you just have to concentrate to the dots that are going to the direction you want and follow them for a while.

  72. aminorbender says:

    Truly amazing…love all the illusions so far.

  73. angel says:

    i cant do the whole 3d thing because the vision in my eyes is different, my left eye is about twice as bad vision as my right so when i put on 3d glasses my brain just cant handle it and i have to take them off, maybe at least some of the 1/3 that cant see the 3d version have a similiar oddity with vision. awesome illusion by the way.

  74. SkinnytheSkinner says:

    crazily, i accidentally saw it splitting in the middle and both semi-circles rotating independently. i’ve gotten them to rotate independently in the same direction and in opposing directions, and then also what it’s supposed to do… i’m intrigued by this image; very curious…

  75. Michael Spence says:

    OMFG i cant believe it… i got it to work … these almost never work for me!Im so impressed with myself… then i wierded myself when 2 parts started going opposite directions…

  76. Michael Spence says:

    i left it for a few minutes and decided to come back… now i can make it change directioons at will… i want it ti go both ways though… that was cool!

  77. Joe Black says:

    That’s the way I first saw it. Two semi (Half) spheres spinning in opposite directions. It almost looked like the two collided and past through each other and came around again. Then I could make it spin in either direction. Getting that first effect is a little more difficult, now that I made it spin in opposite directions. Pretty cool! I guess the 60′s did completely wear off.

  78. Jupiter says:

    Took me a while to make it change direction but was finally able to do it.. Pretty cool.

  79. Jeanne says:

    Damn cool… I can see all 3 directions!!

  80. David says:

    Wow!!! I can make it stop!

  81. Rakhtael says:

    I also see two hemispheres (split along the vertical sector with less amount of dots) rotate in opposite directions. very good one, indeed!

  82. Rakhtael says:

    and, actually, the dots make elliptic trajectories; the lowest dot of all, when travelling from left to right, passes beneath all other dots. but when going right to left, another dot passes beneath it.

  83. chris says:

    Best One Ever. I’m sure the majority of people see it going to the right first. Cuz we think of a the arth as globe spinning from west to east. i ‘d like to see what this image looked like from the top of the globe. that would be pretty cool.

  84. Krystall says:

    wow. i could only see it turning left at first. to make it turn the other way i have to cross my eyes and while my vision is blurry i starte at the sphere and then i uncross my eyes and it is turning the ohter way. that is sooo AWESOME. kinda freaky too because it plays tricks on your eyes…

  85. manesha says:

    Thats so cool! I had to not directly look t it to see the sphere going he other way-but its really cool-great job on the site, I go here every day!

  86. punkyitz says:

    It was first going left for me than after a bit I would move my eyes right and got it to spin the other way. Really cool

  87. ally says:

    awsome!!!!!!!

  88. Kitruk says:

    Well, actually the rotating sphere is (a 2D projection with perspective of) a 3D sphere. And it is rotating only to one direction: from left right (front side). That can be verified by tracing trajectories of single spots. If the projection were without perspective, the sphere could truly be interpreted to rotate either way round (single spots would travel on horizontal lines).

    Yet it is of course quite possible to see the sphere rotating to right to left, splitting in middle, or many other phenomena reported here. These interpretations all mean though that the viewer does not see/understand/interpret the 3D clues in the projection. (Stereo vision is not needed to interpret them; they can be seen with just one eye.)

  89. wow! yeah this is fantastíco!!!! can make it turn and all that …blinking my eyes make it turn blink by blink …almost anyway.tried it with one eye too.

  90. Carmen says:

    This is amazing, also the information, Thanks

  91. nathanale says:

    oh man! i kept staring at this for about two hours and couldn’t get it to switch direction, i had to look at it out of the corner of my eye to do it, very odd, keep up the good work! you just baffled me, and i’m pretty good at this kinda stuff!

  92. leena hoo says:

    I can also see it turns two difficult ways in the same time. Left side turns right to left and right side left to right.

  93. anonymous says:

    don’t be disheartened if you can’t make it spin the other way, if you can’t, then check out the “spinning sillhouette ballerin”a on this site- that optical illusion is awesome, and my favourite, it works in the same way as this, and i’ve figured a fool-proof trick to do that one, which should help you with this one too:
    Look at the ballerina, it should be spinning one way.
    Then, look down at your keyboard, maybe keeping the tip of her leg in your view from the top corner of your eye.
    Then, concentrate, and imagine her leg spinning the other way, at one point on the screen, the corner, is where the images are looped.
    Keep concentrating and imagine her spinning the other way than the initial direction you saw her.
    When you look up, she should be spinning the other way.

    A few things to keep in mind is to concentrate on trying to think of her spinning the other way, keep the tip of her leg in view and relax :)

    Anyways, another one is the “Spinning Man”, very easy to spot and easier to get the trick :D

  94. anonymous says:

    P.S: at one time, i saw a smaller sphere rotating in the opposit direction inside a bigger sphere- and shoot- the corner of the eye thing doesn’t work well for this one, i’ve only made it rotate clock-wise twice, when i think of the back dots mingling and coming to the front, then it goes the other way ;)

  95. anonymous says:

    p.p.s: ah ha! corssing eyes works VERY well for this one!! Mwhahaha last post, promise xD

  96. There are not enough words to describe it. It’s beautiful, awsome, cool, etc.,etc.,etc!!

  97. urban ?? says:

    when your eyes relax you’ll see through it and it will look to you like it has turned the other way….

  98. Duane says:

    this is great i manage to do what u said it will do, clock wise, counter clock wise, and see it going toward each other and then a small gap would appear, then like it was coming from both sides and colliding with it self from front to back

  99. helios says:

    nice one, though i need some time to see it change, and more time to make it change again
    can somebody explain how to change it in a blink?
    and i can only see 3 versions

  100. keef says:

    This is cool. I remember as a kid, sitting at the local ( small ) airport and watching the radar dish rotate. After a short period of time, it seemed to be rotating the opposite way to what it had been. Wait a while longer and it began rotating in reverse again! This is so similar to that phenomenon.

  101. This really isn’t limited to one direction or the other. I can see one half spin counter clockwise while the other spins clockwise.

  102. Also if you can see them going in both directions you can see part of it begin to flip completely out of rotation. But at a certain point it will snap back and you lose it.

  103. Jo says:

    actually all you have to do is focus on the left or right edge

  104. David says:

    If you look at it just right you will see not only does it appear to rotate left or right but see it as two halves rotating on opposite directions towards eachother

  105. Dusan says:

    Yeah i can change direction in less then a sec. nice illusion :)

  106. Jas says:

    that’s great I could see the different roatation that’s pretty cool oh and by the way I didn’t know that about avatar that’s interesting

  107. pedla says:

    Is it only me or can you make it appear as two counter rotating half spheres. Can not hold image for long but can retrieve quickly

  108. elkosith says:

    try to see the picture as two groups of dots moving in opposite direction side to side in 2D plane. that’s a challenge because my brain keeps telling me it’s a sphere, not a 2D object.

  109. Vesh says:

    Im able to see it moving in both directions at the same time ; < on half is going right and one left, however when I blink or stare for too long, Im losing this effect ;p

  110. Obito Uchiha says:

    when i first see it it spins like earth from left to right when i look a little closer its left and right

  111. read dis comment says:

    thats awesome! it takes awhile though

  112. quad says:

    i managed to see it like that so left part turns to left right side turns to right.

  113. Alex Deegan says:

    i thonk it all is turning left

  114. cihan says:

    i’ve managed to rotate it any time i want. bu in the end i end up seing it going both sides at the same time :)

  115. Calfuray says:

    I saw them going left, right, back and forth and in two different directions at the same time. All you need to do is look closely and force your mind to ignore the illusion.

  116. Proffesor Duddy says:

    I think has been animated to be confusing if ignoring the illusion, at first it goes left then after a while of staring it changes smoothly to going right, focus on the front bit then you see. CONCENTRATE!!!!!

  117. Aaron says:

    Well for me, shifting my eyes left and right changes the rotation. Maybe it will work for you too.

  118. lil ashalind says:

    changed it pretty quickly :D also, i saw the dots go in two different directions too!

  119. FLiTz says:

    I manage to change its directions very quick and after a while, you’ll see they’re going in two dfferent directions.

  120. ben says:

    neither! it’s just dots moving in totally different directions
    (actually certain groups)

  121. FLiTz says:

    this is my favorite illusion of all time.

  122. VMike says:

    yup, got three directions too, i had to visualize it morphing to get it, but after that i could ignore what my brain was trying to say was the truth.

  123. CHAINSAW WOLF says:

    i luv doing that. i can do it no problem

  124. keigee says:

    actually the sphere rotates both direction!!!! interesting…

  125. sarah says:

    I dont get it:c

  126. ryza says:

    nice illusion..it depends on how u start to see it..the sphere is divided into two and revolving in different direction and in a few seconds they both revolved in clockwise direction and few seconds again will revolve in counterclockwise an…d then they meet opposite direction once then VICE VERSA.

  127. spam says:

    i find it easier to make it spin the other way if you look just to the left or right of the image. sometimes i see it going both directions at once which is really odd looking

  128. coolio says:

    if u look at the back dots (the ones further from u) it makes it easier to switch directions

  129. dee says:

    nice illusion! couldnt figure out the spinning cat though, dont know why!!!

  130. ;-) says:

    I can make some dots go against the flo ;-)

  131. ben says:

    I was able to see this illusion as both sets of dots being the front dots (or background dots) at the same time. So it looks like two half-shells rotating into each other.

  132. Lucy says:

    i can only see anticlockwise :/

  133. Amie says:

    Left at first so lol

  134. Jennifer says:

    Holy Crow i can actually make it change directions pretty quickly ive never seen this type of illusion before its kind cool

  135. bldd says:

    i saw another thing
    two halfes of the sphere was rotating… different directions… \front\ one in leftt \back\ in right…. they were just passing by itself xD

  136. Fen says:

    This is really cool! :D I imagined the sphere melting (or crashing like ocean waves) whenever I wanted to change the direction it was going :D

  137. darian says:

    They aren’t spinning

  138. abi says:

    i see it going left when i look at it straight on, then right when i look out of the corner of my eye

  139. lulu bear says:

    right…..definitely right

  140. V0rt3x says:

    somehow i made both the hemispheres rotate into eachother
    OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE

  141. Xiroey says:

    I managed to make it go the other way

    But now I can’t make it stop! D:

  142. STR e t C H says:

    ERROR comment again y.a.h;

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