Friday, April 8, 2011

Science of the Eye

Your retina, which is the film in the back of your eyeball’s camera, takes light and converts it into an electric signal. Technically, it’s a little chunk of your brain that’s been lodged into your eyeball. The human retina can transmit data at a rate of 10 million bits per second, a speed that’s competitive with your Ethernet connection.

The eye is a fantastic, complicated tool. Nearly every animal has one. For people, it’s the dominant sense, the source of most of the information we receive from the world. We learn to trust our eyes.

Still, vision isn’t perfect. Optical illusions show just how easy it is to trick those retinas (or technically, that brain). Let’s look at a couple examples:

All of the horizontal lines in this picture are parallel.

...Even though they appear otherwise

And this gray bar is the same color, the whole way across.

Test it by covering up everything but the bar!

Here's another trick:

This is a picture of a duck.

...Or is it a rabbit?

At “Science of the Eye,” you can learn more about this fantastic organ by looking at real cows’ eyes. You can also hear about common eye diseases, find your “blind spot” and play with more optical illusions.

In the meantime, check out this cool website to learn eye anatomy and see a video of a dissection. That way, when you get to see the real thing, you’ll already know your sclera from your cornea.

“Science of the Eye” will be held at the MIT Museum on Sunday, May 8 from 10 am to 2 pm. For more details, check out the events schedule.

Picture source: Wikimedia Commons

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