Bizarre optical illusion of chessboard bulkheads on the internet

A bizarre optical illusion showing two sets of seemingly different chess pieces stuns internet users.

The image has gone viral after it was posted on Twitter by science journalist Tom Chivers, garnering more than 2,000 likes.

Despite recent interest in the illusion, the image was actually created by researchers Barton Anderson, of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and Jonathan Winawer, now affiliated with New York University, for a 2005 study published in the magazine Nature

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

The apparently white set is placed in a predominantly black smoke environment, while the apparently black set is placed in a predominantly lighter smoke environment.

But while the two sets of chess pieces may look different, the truth is that they are actually identical – meaning that each piece is the same as the corresponding piece below it. The fact that they look different is just an illusion.

Each piece has “the same pattern of hues as its counterpart,” Chivers said in a response to his post. “If you screenshot a small spot of one of them and his partner, they will have the same shade.”

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

“Absolutely by no means are these the same suit.. THEY ARE GOOD, YOU KNOW!” said one Twitter user, Gareth Ebenezer.

“That’s flipping voodoo right there. Are you a medicine man?’ said another user.

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

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

The reason is that the way our brains process the lightness of a particular object is highly dependent on the context in which that object is embedded. For example, the brain can be fooled into thinking that the chess pieces are different purely because of the environment in which they are embedded.

This is not the only illusion that has recently attracted the attention of Internet users. A photo of a cat seemingly “floating” over a couch has gone viral, stunning social media users.

The photo was first shared on the Reddit sub-r/confusing_perspective on Sunday, by a Redditor who uses the username Flamind666 and has racked up over 18.7k upvotes and nearly 100 comments to date.

A file photo of a chessboard. A bizarre optical illusion showing two sets of seemingly different chess pieces stuns internet users.
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