In the Hall of Human Origins exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, visitors learn how humans evolved unique characteristics such as storing decades’ worth of information and creating abstract images. The exhibit houses ancient artifacts and fossilized bones dating back 350,000 years and explains how our brain development has helped us acquire complex abilities.
Which one of these yellow lines is longer? If you’re familiar with this illusion, you’ll know that the lines are the same length. Even so it may be hard to override your impression that the “railroad tracks” are receding into the distance—suggesting that the upper line is farther away and, therefore, must be bigger. This optical trick demonstrates that the brain judges (or misjudges) an object’s size based on its context. At Seeing Is Deceiving, an exhibit at the Museum of Science, visitors can delve into the cognitive principles that underlie such tricks.
This article was originally published with the title Calendar.