This gravity-defying 3D optical illusion is baffling the web

3 images of a blue 3D printed structure with a marble progressively travelling up a downward stair case.
(Image credit: Shirahaha)

We love a good optical illusion here at Creative Bloq, but this might just be the coolest yet. This 3D printed structure seemingly defies the laws of gravity by rolling marbles uphill – and it's bending our minds. 

The 3D sculpture features four sets of downward-facing stairs. However, when viewed from a particular angle, the stairs shift to look like they face upwards – making the marbles look like they float to the top of the stairs. The designer, Julian Hardy, is offering his design for free so you can print your own mind-boggling illusion. If you haven't got a 3D printer, fear not – our list of the best 3D printers has you covered.

In a YouTube video explaining the secret behind the floating marbles, users shared their thoughts about the illusion. With one user commenting on the video, “These physics are evolving and evolving, soon my head will explode,” and another saying, “No matter how many times I watch it I’m somehow still just surprised as I was the first time,” it's clear that the public are just as confused as we are. Maybe if we were to print our own magic stairs with Hardy's free design we'll be able to understand what on earth (or not) is going on.

3D optical illusion

A screenshot from the 3D printing instructions (Image credit: op)

Indeed, as with all things in life, it seems it's about perspective. "When viewed from the correct angle, this piece should give the illusion that all 4 ramps slope up to the middle platform," read the designer's 3D printing instructions. "Viewing from any other angle gives the game away!" 

Optical illusions are taking over the design world at the minute and with WWF's 'They Can Disappear' illusion with a serious message and Rome's beautiful X-ray illusion the size of a building, we can't wait to see what illusion blows our mind next. In the meantime, we're still completely mesmerised by these 12 baffling optical illusions

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Amelia Bamsey
Staff Writer

Amelia is Creative Bloq’s Staff Writer. After completing a degree in Popular Music and a Master’s in Song Writing, Amelia began designing posters, logos, album covers and websites for musicians. She now enjoys covering a range of topics on Creative Bloq, including posters, optical illusions, logos (she's a particular fan of logo Easter eggs), gaming and illustration. In her free time, she relishes in the likes of art (especially the Pre-Raphaelites), photography and literature. Amelia prides herself on her unorthodox creative methods, her Animal Crossing island and her extensive music library.