Subway Ponzo Optical Illusion

Here is something you don’t see every day. In my view this illusion is totally mind-boggling. We all know how Ponzo illusion works, and why this phenomenon occurs, but in this particular example it’s really hard to settle that both red lines are exactly the same – I measured them. Still, I can’t deal with the fact that the further line isn’t little bolder and little longer. Can you convince yourself? How can “what we see” and “what our mind is telling us” exist in harmony? Share you thoughts, please.

My flu isn’t gone yet. I’m little better, but have really strange headache. When I try to move my eyes from one corner to another, intolerable pain strikes. If I want to look at something left of me, I have to close my eyes, turn my head and then open them again. Same goes for any other direction except straight forward. The good thing about having so many readers, is that some you may be doctors. Before I go to see my own doctor, what would your diagnose be?

80 Replies to “Subway Ponzo Optical Illusion”

  1. It’s easier to see if you fog your vision a bit (don’t know how to describe it in another way).

    But this one’s certainly well done.
    I think the illusion is somewhat increased by the fact that the right line is slightly higher than the left.

  2. checked it with photoshop….
    the right line is a little bit bolder through image-resizing but they are both the same lenght oO

  3. it all has to do with depth perception. the depth in the ‘hallway’ emphasized by the tiles. if you have 2 identical objects, one close by and the other further away, the latter one seems smaller. that’s logical, because the further away, the smaller stuff gets. if you have 2 identical things and you lay them on a picture with depth, one on a spot that is further away (in the picture) it should be (in real life) smaller. because that isn’t the case, it looks bigger. especially with these big depth differences. the red stripe closer by is barely the size of one tile, the other one covers the total length of 5 tiles. so your mind tells you that the further one has to be a lot bigger, so it looks bigger.

    I think…

  4. IMHO, i’m not a doctor.
    However, if it is just when your eyes physically move (head movement as a whole notwithstanding) I would suggest your REM stage is lasting for far too long, perhaps stay up longer? ;-) Or you’re playing to many games with a VR Headset.
    Well, I can convince myself that the lines are exactly the same. Perhaps it is because I overlaid (um, spellcheck that?) a grid on top of the image after seeing what it was.

  5. Indeed, its quite a good one that!:)

    Thanks for posting even though you’re ill :) and i know the exact feelign that you are on about with your eyes! … if i move my eyes now i can imagine the pain because i’ve had it before!:P …. of course, sleep and plenty of fluids is the best option :)

  6. I had the flu recently, too. I had a head-splitting headache and similar conditions with my eyes.

    Bed-rest helped me the most. I also had a fever so I wrapped myself in a few blankets and slept for about 36 hours. Also, get carbs and constant fluids in you. Advil or Tylenol help too, and the doctor will probably say the same thing.

  7. Wow this is diffrent normally it looks taller but this one is really bolder, its just the way the brain works. Hope you get better soon take some pain killers, you may have high blood pressure near the eyes or damaged a vain/vein.

  8. This is like you say a great example, you can actually ‘see’ the change in focus/adjustment of your eye when you look from one to the other. fantastic!

  9. First comment? Dubious. This is a good one. In spite of your flu you’re putting out some very good illusions lately. Get well soon! Wait…I mean now.

    (I personally love nyquil by the way and tea+honey works miracles as well…though I’m probably regurgitating things you already know.)

    As far as what we see and what our mind is telling us I think that if we did not perceive these as different lines we would have no depth perception and wouldn’t be the same species…and probably would have died off because we thought those lines were the same but one was actually closer and killed us :-P

    I have no idea what I’m saying…or rather I don’t think I verbalized it well.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that these optical illusions are a sort of regression to our abilities of perception. They would not be so obvious if we had less advanced visual systems

    PS it sort of looks more believable with one eye closed :-)

  10. this one is crazy cool, I can usually see that they are the same, but I can’t filter out those tiles.

    I’m no doctor but I’ll bet you have sinus pressure on a nerve leading to you eyes. Hydrate and rest. feel beter soon

  11. Headaches can be worsened by eye stimulation, as light, eye movement, reading, etc. If you have a flu it’s normal to have headaches… so it seems no to be nothing to worry about.
    Anyway, if it persists, see your doctor. ;)

    btw, great illusion, although not original.

  12. I measured these lines as well but I can’t get over the fact that the second line isn’t actually bigger! Maybe because the picture uses a real life background?

  13. If you put your hands in front of the tiles, the red lines are obvious the same. If you pull your hand back, the right line “grows” :) Weird…

  14. I like the illusion. I’m no doctor, in fact, I’m only 13 (today is my b-day!) but I think that you should get it checked right away. Have you had any history with problems with your sight? Do you wear glasses? When did you start seeing these symptoms? At school or work, is this virus or “flu” going around? Do you know anyone else with these same symptoms?
    Back to the illusion. I think this is because the lines are parallel, but not at the same height. My theory is that they are in fact congruent. Also, the red lines are next to a different amount of tiles.

  15. I’m not a doctor, but I have a very similar symptom when I get migraines. Moving my eyes in the sockets to look around is actually very painful. My doctor prescribed some prescription medication that works wonders, no idea what it is specifically though.

  16. It’s not so mind boggling. It’s only the depth perception that we see. If from your point of view something in the distance is the same height as something in the foreground. It means that the one in the distance is larger. It’s common sense.

  17. Like my Doctor always says ‘Well, dont do it then’.

    Other than that, either sinus trouble, eye strain, brain tumor, or the black death.

    Striking example of that old illusion.

  18. Can’t believe the second line near the poster IS’NT Longer… I’ve seen lots like this but this is the most impressive
    ! ( 1st Post!)

  19. The second line is longer, as it goes from the ceiling to the red tiles, but the other just spreads for one tile. Put it in Paint and then draw lines…You’ll see!

  20. Hi, I had the exact same headache last week and I agree it is the weirdest feeling. I was speaking to one of my lecturers who has researched migraines and he said that sort of headache is because blood isn’t being circulated through the brain properly. He also said if you also have high blood pressure you are at a higher risk of a stroke. So get it checked out!!!

    Btw love the site! Keep up the fantastic work!

  21. The illusion here has nothing to do with the red lines. The illusion is of a London subway (underground) station that appears to the untrained eye to not be littered knee deep in crap.

  22. Yea I get that way ALOT when I’m sick, my doctor said it’s because of sinus pressure and to take a decongestant for the sinuses, it usually helps! feel better!

  23. checked with photoshop and theyre really exactly the same, neat illusion, bravo!

    also, i had the same flu and headache you’re having now… if you’d like to know mine went away with some hours of rest and juice.

    1. wow people are idiots just because you say or mispronounce something doesn’t mean you go and call people names alright you bloody wankers, cause no one needs to go there….NOW look at the picture :D lmao

  24. I’m curious….why do people care so much that they’re the first to post a comment? I saw at least 3 in this thread claiming to be first, and I’m thinking….umm, who cares? So you’re first, does that make you feel special? Do you feel less special if you think you’re first, and then discover that you’re not? Is there some prize for being first? IMHO there are more exciting things in life….

  25. yeah my point exactly, first post, who cares.. a question i pose- is it really a comment if all you say is “Yeah!!! im the first person to comment! WOOHOO”…

    i was a bit tricked by this illusion as the one of the right is clearly higher then the other, which i thought was the point of 2 lines being equal. but considering the elivation of the camera they have done well in presenting it and plus no where does it state same height and position :)

  26. HAHA, unless I missed it, not one person mentioned the coincidental message on the billboard…”My eyes need moist.” That’s pretty funny. BTW, this illusion is nuts, and i agree that the best way to “see it” is to get as close to the screen as possible and blur your vision (squinting…)

  27. if you blurr up your vision when your looking at the side wall it looks like the wall with the picture on it is moving

  28. Hey subway/underground guy: the website operator isn’t a “Yank”. He’s a “Dalm”. Or Croat, Serb, Albanian, whatever. No telling who is running things there this week. Can’t you tell from the poor spelling/grammar/usage in the articles that English isn’t his first language? Or maybe YOU can’t. We certainly can.
    We still like the stuff he posts.




  30. The reason we perceive these shapes as not being the same is because they exist on a 2-D field. In real life, those lines are not the same length, the one further down is clearly bigger, encompassing 5 tiles while the closer one only borders 1. In real, 3-D life this is true, but since a picture is only 2-D and not able to rotate or get closer to the far line, they are going to be the same length no matter how you look at it (no pun intended).

  31. the real illusion is that i didnt see the red lines until i read the description, i couldnt find that illusion which is very good

    1. Yo, LOL! he is British! so what if he accidentally said subway! Maybe he thought it was taken in america!

  32. these are simple ^-^ its your senses are telling you that the line at the end are longer because you are measuring it based on what is near it. it seems the take the same space as 5 tile rows when it matches the first line which its closer and only takes one tile row, but as you look down the wall at this angle the farther it gets the more it seems to shrink which can have your perception of size distorted. ^-^

  33. I have ridden on the London subway and found it pathetic. I live in NYC and I ride on our U-bahn daily and it’s SO much better! Furthermore, our stations are optical illusion-free.

  34. To all the self-righteous English assholes, have you seen how ghetto and shitty your country is?
    It’s just cracking me up how you have to resort to calling someone a ‘dumb american twat’ you, yourself sound pretty uneducated, but I’d expect that from a fourteen year old, I assume you’re around that age, because that’s about the only age group I know to resort to such infantile talk. Grow up. Look at your surroundings you wonky toothed, uneducated bastard. How do you like that?

  35. @XIVIIV
    Aliright, some of us are like that whiney little knob, but for the rest you are just spewing out spereotypes. I have to say I don’t think highly of your country either. It’s full of fat people. So is England, however they are marginally less fat here.

  36. Normally the lines are aligned, so if you take a ruler and place it beneath one line, both lines will end on the ruler. In this picture, however, the right line is placed slightly higher, thus accentuating the illusion.

  37. this really strange headache is happening to me to where did you get you flu lol just
    wondering cause i got mine from subway :D
    and i have hade the flu several times this year and only this one time that i got it i am having these “eye aches”

  38. the reason why the far one looks bigger is cause it has a point of refference, the picture. the one thats closer looks smaller is cause it is closer.

  39. About your head ache – I’m not a doctor but I think you have a sinus problem. Too much goop in the tubes around your eyes and nose. Goop – defiantly a technical term. Try steam.
    Pour a bowl of hot water and put your face over it and breath in the steam. A towel over your head will keep the steam in and a little eucalyptus oil in the water is good too but only a little as it can sting your eyes. A hot bath can also help to clear the sinus and you can add eucalyptus oil to that too.
    Paracetamol is also good for this kind of head ache. Hope you feel better soon.
    ps. good illusion.

  40. You should go see a vision specialist immediately! You can go to any mall or a Walmart and I’m sure they’d see you in a hurry. By the way, I periodically have a feeling in my left eye like there’s a piece of sand in it, it occurs randomly, sometimes several times a month, then not for several months. I went to get an eye exam that I had been putting off for year and anyhow I told the doctor about the “sand” and he peered in with his machine for a while and said, “You have high blood pressure”, which I do, I’ve been taking several medications for years, I mean decades, to control it and even have my own home blood pressure monitor, I’m just saying it was a relief to know that it wasn’t something else. And, my Walmart has a coin-operated blood pressure machine, so that would be the first thing I would try, people who don’t know they have the “silent killer” end up going blind from it. Let us know what the doctor says.

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