The bizarre optical illusion of a chessboard is confusing the internet

A strange optical illusion showing two sets of seemingly different chess pieces is confusing netizens.

The image went viral after it was posted by science journalist Tom Chivers on Twitter, with the post racking up more than 2,000 likes.

Despite recent interest in the illusion, the image was actually created by researchers Barton Anderson, from the University of Sydney, Australia, and Jonathan Winawer, now working at New York University, to a 2005 study published in the journal Nature.

The illusion shows two sets of chess pieces in a smoky environment: one that appears to be white and another that appears to be black.

The seemingly white set is placed in an environment of mostly black smoke, while the black appearance is placed in an environment containing mostly lighter smoke.

But while the two sets of chess pieces look different, the truth is that they are actually identical, which means each piece is the same as the corresponding one underneath. The fact that they look different is just an illusion.

Each piece has “the same undertone pattern as its counterpart,” Chivers said in a response to her post. “If you capture a small speck of one of them and their partner, they’ll be the same shade.”

Unsurprisingly, the illusion caused shock and some confusion among social media users in the comments under Chivers’ post.

“Absolutely no way it’s the same col. said Twitter user Gareth Ebenezer.

“That’s voodoo there. Are you a wizard?” said another user.

“I don’t like it. (in the best way possible),” said another.

So why do people see the two chess sets as different when in fact they are the same?

The reason for this is that the way our brain processes the lightness of a given object strongly depends on the context in which this object is embedded. Thus, the brain can be tricked into thinking that chess pieces are different only because of the environment in which they are embedded.

This is not the only illusion to have aroused the interest of Internet users in recent times. A photo of a cat seemingly “floating” above a couch has gone viral, leaving social media users stunned.

The photo was first shared to the Reddit subreddit r/confusing_perspective on Sunday, by a Redditor who goes by the name Flamind666 and has garnered over 18.7k upvotes and nearly 100 comments so far.

A file photo of a chess board. A strange optical illusion showing two sets of seemingly different chess pieces is confusing netizens.
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