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Do You See Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein in This Optical Illusion?

You can use this Einstein/Monroe illusion to determine how bad your eyes are.

by Beckett Mufson
04 April 2015, 5:00pm

GIF by Beckett Mufson, via

As the image in this GIF approaches, viewers with 20/20 vision will see an elegant portrait of Marilyn Monroe transform into Albert Einstein's frazzled mug before their very eyes.

ASAP Science—the YouTube channel that answers other thought-provoking questions like, "What color is The Dress?" and "What happens if the bees die?"—explains that this is "an example of a hybrid image, whereby a low spatial frequency of one picture is combined with a high spacial frequency of another." In other words, Einstein has been reduced to the fine details of his eyebrows and mustache, while Monroe is blurred to the point that general features like hair and mouth shape are all we can make out.

ASAP Science use the video to explain the work of MIT researcher Dr. Aude Oliva and University of Glasgow professor Dr. Philippe G. Schyns, who have been experimenting with hybrid images since 1994. The duo developed the Einstein/Monroe illusion, along with a host of others, including the emotion-bending Dr. Angry and Mr. Smile, and an algorithm that can make faces more or less memorable. Dr. Oliva earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014 for her study of hybrid images, and her most recent project is teaching computers how to see what's happening in entire scenes, beyond tasks like facial recogition. You can read read more about her work here.

Screencaps via

See more of ASAP Science's videos on their YouTube Channel, and visit Dr. Oliva's MIT page to learn more about her research.


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optical illusion
Albert Einstein
ASAP Science
Aude Oliva
Einstein/Monroe illusion
Philippe G. Schyns