The optical illusion is a variant of the Ponzo Illusion, which exploits the human brain’s use of background to judge an object’s size.

In this instance, the context is the depiction of two spaceships flying through a wormhole. The spaceship that’s portrayed closer to the viewer appears smaller, while the one further away, closer to the edges of the wormhole, seems larger. This happens even though they are, in reality, the same size.

This is due to a concept in psychology known as linear perspective, which is the idea that parallel lines appear to converge as they recede into the distance. In this illusion, the sides of the wormhole serve as these ‘converging’ lines, creating a perception of depth and distance.

Our brains, in interpreting this scene, are influenced by our real-world experiences and understanding that distant objects look smaller than identical ones that are closer. So when we see the spaceship closer to the converging lines of the wormhole, our brain automatically interprets it as being farther away, and therefore, it must be larger for it to occupy the same amount of visual space as the closer spaceship.

This illusion showcases the fascinating ways in which our brains interpret and often ‘fill in’ visual information, based on learned principles about the world, to create a perception that feels accurate, even when it contradicts the actual properties of the image.

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