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In Matt Kenyon’s “Supermajor,” oil appears to flow upward against gravity from a puddle into a can. This optical illusion is a stroboscopic effect similar to the one that makes car wheels seem to rotate backwards. The human eye and brain can be tricked into seeing the stream of oil as being suspended or even moving backwards by changing the flicker of the lighting relative to the rate at which the drops fall. If you watch the videos carefully, the pedestal is vibrating, which imparts a specific frequency to the falling drops. Combine this with a light that flickers at a slightly different frequency than that of the vibration and you can make the stream of drops appear to move up or down. It’s a helpful way to trick the brain into freezing fluid motion we would normally be unable to appreciate without high-speed cameras. (Video credit: Science Gallery; exhibit credit: Matt Kenyon; submitted by jshoer)

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