Another optical illusion is here to fry your brain

Moving circles optical illusion
Here's a nice static cerion (Image credit: jagarikin on Twitter)

We've seen all manner of optical illusions here at Creative Bloq, but our favourite genre has to be Things That Look That They're Moving But Aren't Even Though They Really, Really Look Like They're Moving. Falling squarely (or rather, circularly) into that category is this pair of circles that we still can't quite get our heads around.

Courtesy of our favourite Twitter-based optical illusion artist jagarikin, this latest illusion features two spinning circles. Throw in a pair of directional arrows, and the circles appear to be sliding in said direction. Except, they aren't. (Like having your mind blown? Check out our favourite optical illusions.)

Spinning circles optical illusion

Do not try to tell us these circles aren't moving (Image credit: jagarikin on Twitter)

Indeed, place a pair of inward arrows inside the circles, and they appear to be moving towards each other. Up and down makes them look like they're sliding, yep, up and down. And they can even appear to stretch or shrink, with a set of four arrows pointing either towards or away from each other. Basically, whatever those arrows are doing, the circles appear to follow. 

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"Possibly my favourite optical illusion. The circles don't change position or size. And yet...," one Twitter user comments, while another adds, "I’m convinced that the circles are actually moving and the denial of this is pure madness." Perhaps speaking for us all, another user exclaims, "STOOOOOP I FEEL 100% MANIPULATED AND I HATE IT." 

But while the circles really, really, really look like they're sliding, plenty of users have added grids to prove that they aren't. As soon as reference points are added, those arrows lose all of their sinister and sorcerous power – we can clearly see that the circles are stationary.

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So how does it work? According to ScienceAlert, this illusion is a variation on the 'Phi phenomenon', which "turns rapid sequences of changes in colour or brightness into something more profound, like a general sense that something has changed position." And in this case, it's not actually the arrows that are doing the directing. There are actually "shifting contrasts in the borders around the colours" of the circles that create the illusion of the circles moving in a single direction. 

This is by no means the first mind-boggling/brain-frying/head-spinning illusion we've seen from jagarikin. From falling figures (that aren't actually falling) to rotating cubes (that aren't actually rotating), the artist is responsible for some of the best illusions we've seen in the last few years. (If you're wondering what the worst is, look at these McDonald's kissing burgers at your peril.) 

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.