The Zebra Crossing Illusion!

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There’s nothing quite like an optical illusion to spark the imagination… or a debate online.

In previous years, we have engaged in fierce debates regarding viral illusions that read like the back catalog of a Nancy Drew-inspired puzzle mystery series: The Colorful Conundrum of That Dress, The Jacket That Baffled The Internet, The Mystery of How Many Girls?, and The Curious Case of the Shiny Legs.

And now, there’s a zebra photograph that’s playing tricks on viewers.

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This photo, taken in Kenya at the Maasai Mara national game reserve by wildlife photographer Sarosh Lodhi, was shared on Twitter, and he asked a supposedly simple question:

Which zebra is the one facing the camera?

And yes, those with good memories may recall that this isn’t the first zebra-related optical illusion we’ve posted on the blog, but I do think it’s the most challenging.

Some solvers focused on the folds in the left one’s neck, or the position of its ears, to determine which was the zebra in question.

Others found ample evidence to believe it’s the zebra on the right.

A few even posited that they thought it was a trick, and there was a third one in the middle facing the camera.

So, which do you think it is, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers?

Here’s the photo again, with some space to think, before we share the answer:

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Ready?

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Are you sure?

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Last chance to turn back!

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Okay, here we go! Did you guess left or right?

The correct answer, according to the photographer himself…

Is the zebra on the left.

How did you do? Did you get it right? Or are you still convinced there’s trickery afoot? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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Overwhelmed by Optical Illusions Underfoot

A good optical illusion is a puzzle for the eyes, a visual treat that tricks you into seeing things that aren’t there. The most convincing optical illusions can even affect your sense of balance and make you question every footstep you take.

For instance, imagine walking into a room and seeing this:

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This is a rug called “Black Hole,” designed by Daniel Malik, and it’ll make you doubt the ground beneath your feet.

Don’t believe me? Check this out:

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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optical illusions that can leave you dizzy and spinning.

Austrian artist Peter Kogler specializes in making empty spaces look larger, more twisted, and vertigo-inducingly unsettled.

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Employing the walls, the floor, and the ceiling (along with any structural beams or other objects in the area), Kogler challenges your spacial awareness with lines and imagery that offset your natural depth perception.

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Astonishingly, the few recognizable items in this works — like a hanging lightbulb or even a fellow spectator — enhance the effect, making everything around those steady, relatable objects into an eye in the storm of chaotic imagery.

You no longer trust your ability to gauge height, distance, or even the angle of the room itself, even though you know in your heart that you’re walking on a flat surface.

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We’ve featured some clever floor designs in the past — including one in a school that was designed to keep kids from running in the halls — but nothing on the scale of Kogler’s work.

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It almost makes you nostalgic for the simple trickery of a circular area rug that looks like a tunnel to the center of the Earth, doesn’t it?


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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

Your One-Stop Optical Illusion Coffee Shop

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Optical illusions are puzzles for the eye, inspired bits of visual trickery that can fool you into thinking near is far, big is small, or two dimensions are really three.

We’ve explored various optical illusions in the past, but never something quite as curious, or as immersive, as this.

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Welcome to Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20, a coffee shop in Seoul, South Korea, that is like a drawing come to life.

Designed to look like it’s composed of flat line sketches — essentially, comic strip-style art that you can interact with — the illusion is thoroughly impressive. Everything from chairs and tables to wall art, mugs, and serving containers help bolster the illusion that you’ve transcended space in a very peculiar way.

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Like slipping into the black-and-white world from the famous “Take on Me” music video by A-Ha, a visit to Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 is a mind-blowing experience.

And it’s a terrific place to snap some unforgettable pictures. When customers enter the scene, every photo feels like they’ve become part of the illusion, as if they’ve been Photoshopped into a drawing, rather than simply walking in or sitting down for coffee.

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The curiously named cafe — which takes its moniker from its street address — has become an international destination for people seeking a unique coffee-fueled tourist experience. This is particularly impressive, given that the cafe supposedly never advertised its opening! The owner claims it’s strictly a word-of-mouth success story.

Whether that’s true or not, you might just get a better chance of experiencing the pleasures of Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 sooner than you think. You see, the owner hopes to franchise the business and open new shops across South Korea, and then expand outward into the world at large.

So, the next time you glance at a bit of trompe l’oeil art on the street, maybe give it a second glance. It might just turn out to be your new favorite coffee spot.

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[All images are courtesy of Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20.]


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

PuzzleNation Blog Looks Back on 2018!

2018 is quickly coming to a close, and as I look back on an eventful year in the world of puzzles and games, I’m incredibly proud of the contributions both PuzzleNation Blog and PuzzleNation made to the puzzle community as a whole.

Over the last year, we explored board games and card games, strategy games and trivia games, dice games and tile games, do-it-yourself puzzlers and pen-and-paper classics. We met game designers, constructors, artists, YouTubers, and creative types of all kinds.

We unraveled math puzzles and diabolical brain teasers. We pondered optical illusions, Internet memes, and more, even questioning our place in the world of puzzles as AI and solving robots continued to rise in capability.

We delved into puzzle history with posts about ancient board games from centuries ago, Edgar Allan Poe’s secret codes, and the legacy of influential female codebreakers and spymasters previously lost to revisionist history like Elizebeth Smith Friedman and the Countess Alexandrine. We brought to light valuable examples of puzzles in art, comic strips, animation, music, television, film, and popular culture.

We spread the word about numerous worthwhile Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns, watching as the puzzle/game renaissance continued to amaze and surprise us with innovative new ways to play and solve. We shared worthy causes like Queer Crosswords and Women of Letters, as well as amazing projects like new escape rooms, puzzle experiences like The Enigmatist, online puzzle quests, and long-running unsolved treasure hunts.

We celebrated International TableTop Day, offered up puzzly suggestions for Valentine’s Day, attended the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and dove deep into an ever-expanding litany of puzzle events like the Indie 500, BosWords, and Lollapuzzoola.

We found puzzly ways to celebrate everything from Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to Star Wars Day and the anniversary of the Crossword, and we were happy to share so many remarkable puzzly landmark moments with you.

It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to explore the world of puzzles and games with you, my fellow puzzle lovers and PuzzleNationers. We marked six years of PuzzleNation Blog this year, I’m closing in on my 1000th blog post, and I’m more excited to write for you now than I was when I started.

And honestly, that’s just the blog. PuzzleNation’s good fortune, hard work, and accomplishments in 2018 went well beyond that.

Every month, we delivered quality content for both the Penny Dell Crosswords App and Daily POP Crosswords. Whether it was monthly deluxe sets and holiday bundles for PDCW or the world-class topical puzzles by some of the industry’s best constructors for Daily POP, hundreds of topnotch crosswords wended their way to our loyal and enthusiastic solvers.

And a little more than a week ago, we launched our newest puzzly endeavor — Wordventures: The Vampire Pirate — bringing you a unique, story-driven puzzling experience, complete with gorgeous visuals, atmospheric music, and an immersive mystery to keep you solving!

But whether we’re talking about crosswords, Sudoku, or Wordventures, I’m proud to say that every single puzzle represents our high standards of quality puzzle content crafted for solvers and PuzzleNationers.

And your response has been fantastic! Daily POP Crosswords is thriving, we’re very excited about the response to Wordventures, the blog has over 2300 followers, and with our audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms continuing to grow, the enthusiasm of the PuzzleNation readership is both humbling and very encouraging.

2018 was our most ambitious, most exciting, and most creatively fulfilling year to date, and the coming year promises to be even brighter.

Thank you for your support, your interest, and your feedback, PuzzleNationers. The new year looms large, and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

The Curvature Blindness Illusion Strikes!

Optical illusions are puzzles for the eye. They reveal how different combinations of images — light and shadow, shape and density, foreground and background — can trick viewers into seeing something unexpected.

And we are still discovering new illusions that deceive and delight us.

In the above image, pairs of wavy lines run horizontally across the screen. In the white and black corners, they’re fine. But in the gray area, half of those wavy lines suddenly look like zigzags.

The only difference? The alternating pattern of light and dark patches on each line. In lines where the peaks of the waves are dark and the valleys are light, the wavy pattern remains.

But when the dark and light patches are the ascending and descending parts of the wave, our eyes interpret them as lines forming corners instead of wavy lines.

This is known as the curvature blindness illusion.

As with many optical illusions, this is all about contrast. The white and black backgrounds allow you to view the alternating pieces as one continuous wavy line, whereas the gray background forces you to regard those alternating pieces as individual segments.

Those individual segments are granted the illusion of three-dimensions, and our minds process the lighter ascending line and the darker descending line as “walls” forming a corner, rather than the rising and falling of a sine wave.

It’s amazing how distinctly different the pairs of lines look with just those small variations. Even knowing how I’m being manipulated, it’s still hard to convince myself that I’m not actually seeing what I’m seeing.

Very cool stuff.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

PuzzleNation Blog Looks Back on 2017!

2017 is quickly coming to a close, and as I look back on an eventful year in the world of puzzles and games, I’m incredibly proud of the contributions both PuzzleNation Blog and PuzzleNation made to the puzzle community as a whole.

Over the last year, we explored board games and card games, strategy games and trivia games, dice games and tile games, do-it-yourself puzzlers and pen-and-paper classics. We met game designers, constructors, artists, and creative types of all kinds.

We unraveled math puzzles and tackled the Crossword from Hell. We accepted the challenge of diabolical brain teasers, optical illusions, Internet memes, and more, even pondering our place in the world of puzzles as electronic solvers like Dr. Fill and AlphaGo rise in capability.

We delved into puzzle history with posts about the legacy of female codebreakers in World War II, game dice from centuries ago, theories about Shakespeare’s secret codes, and the long history of cryptography and the NSA. We brought to light valuable examples of puzzles in art, popular culture, famous quotations, and even the natural world as we pondered whether bees are verifiable problem-solvers like crows and octopuses.

We spread the word about numerous worthwhile Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns, watching as the puzzle/game renaissance continued to amaze and surprise us with innovative new ways to play and solve. We shared worthy causes like Puzzles for Progress, as well as amazing projects like new escape rooms, dazzling corn mazes, and the ongoing Kubrick’s Game interactive experience.

We cheered the 75th anniversary of the New York Times Crossword, and chronicled the many celebrations that marked the occasion, from guest crossword constructors like Bill Clinton and Lisa Loeb to a puzzle-centric cruise across the Atlantic!

We also mourned as friends and fellow puzzlers passed on. We said goodbye to David Lindsey and Raymond Smullyan, two underappreciated giants of the field. The pun-fueled show @midnight this year, which inspired our monthly hashtag game, also closed up shop, sadly.

We celebrated International TableTop Day, made puzzly bouquets in honor of International Puzzle Day, marveled at the records broken at the Rubik’s Cube World Championship, attended the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and New York Toy Fair, and dove deep into an ever-expanding litany of puzzle events like the Indie 500, BosWords, Lollapuzzoola 10, and Crosswords LA.

We found puzzly ways to celebrate everything from Pi Day, the Super Bowl, and Star Wars Day to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and we were happy to share so many remarkable puzzly landmark moments with you. We even discovered Puzzle Mountain!

It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to explore the world of puzzles and games with you, my fellow puzzle lovers and PuzzleNationers. We marked five years of PuzzleNation Blog this year, I recently penned my 800th blog post, and I’m more excited to write for you now than I was when I started.

And honestly, that’s just the blog. PuzzleNation’s good fortune, hard work, and accomplishments in 2017 went well beyond that.

Every month, we delivered quality content for the Penny Dell Crosswords App. From monthly deluxe sets and bonus boxes to Dell Collection sets and holiday bundles, dozens upon dozens of topnotch puzzles wended their way to our loyal and enthusiastic solvers.

And just last month, we launched our newest puzzly endeavor — Daily POP Crosswords — bringing you fresh, up-to-date cluing and relatable themes in world-class puzzles created by some of the industry’s best constructors! (Many of whom you’ve gotten to know in our recent interview series, Meet the Daily POP Crosswords Constructors!)

But whether we’re talking about the Penny Dell Crosswords App or Daily POP Crosswords, I’m proud to say that every single puzzle represents our high standards of quality puzzle content crafted for solvers and PuzzleNationers.

And your response has been fantastic! Daily POP Crosswords is thriving, the blog has over 2200 followers, and with our audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms continuing to grow, the enthusiasm of the PuzzleNation readership is both humbling and very encouraging.

2017 was our most ambitious, most exciting, and most creatively fulfilling year to date, and the coming year promises to be even brighter.

Thank you for your support, your interest, and your feedback, PuzzleNationers. The new year looms large, and we look forward to seeing you in 2018!


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!