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This gravity-defying optical illusion has my brain baffled

If you've visited Creative Bloq before, you probably already know that we're a sucker for a good old optical illusion. We've seen so many designs from rotating horses to Holbein's spooky painting, but we love an accidental mind-boggler. 

It's not news that boats float, right? That's pretty much the entire point of a ship after all. However, people have spotted a boat that looks like it's floating...like literally suspended in the air kind of floating (see below). If you're feeling inspired by all this illusion talk, then make sure you check out our roundup of all our favourite optical illusions.  

The photo of the floating ship

When a boat is so good at floating... (Image credit: Martin Stroud)

A visitor in Coverack, Cornwall has spotted a rare phenomenon where it looks as though a ship is floating in the sky. The illusion is caused when the sun hits the cold sea. This isn't the first time the gravity-defying phenomenon has been spotted, last March visitors spotted the same floating ship illusion in the same town. 

According to CornwallLive (opens in new tab), this phenomenon is called Thermal Inversion "which creates abnormal refraction where light bends downwards, towards the colder and more dense air near the sea. This has the effect of making distant objects appear higher than they normally would".

Another photo of a floating boat

This floating boat was also spotted in Coverack last year (Image credit: Gareth Charles)

Historian Tim Maltin believes that this very optical illusion may have been the cause of the sinking of the Titanic back in 1912. Maltin told CornwallLive (opens in new tab), "On that occasion the very cold air near the sea caused the distant horizon to appear higher than normal. This is known as a miraging strip at the horizon, which appeared like a haze although the weather was crystal clear, causing the fatal iceberg to be seen too late". 

The illusion is utterly brain-frazzling, and it's hard to believe that the boat isn't actually suspended in the air when you look at those photos of it. If you're hoping to capture some memorable moments like this one, then why not treat yourself to one of the best cameras for beginners? Or for something a little more portable, make sure you check out our roundup of the best camera phones

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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.