wolff215: October 2011 Archives

Remembering Everything

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I was intrigued when learning about the super-memories only a small fraction of the population is born with. Today, there are four known people with super-memories in America. The attached link is an interview with Bob Petrella. Petrella is one of the four Americans' who has a super-memory. He explains how the memory is truly a blessing and a curse.

Having an average memory capacity, I would love to vividly remember playing at the state tournament for basketball or playing with my cousins during Christmas gatherings. Being able to call upon these memories would truly be a blessing. In this sense, Petrella is lucky to have this gift. However, I am thankful that I can forget certain memories, such as embarrassing or sad events that took place in my past. Petrella is one of the few who cannot let go of these memories, even if he wanted to. Holding onto every life experience can be seen as the downside, or curse, of the gift.

Petrella explains how his memories actually are like videotapes, and can vividly report on every past occurrence; sports especially. It this sense, it would appear that every person who has a super-memory is more prone to recall a certain aspect of life. These four Americans do have a few things in common. For example, all three of the four expressed left-hand dominance, while the fourth has "...strong tendencies to be left-handed." However, we cannot say that this trait causes super-memories or visa-versa.

Reading this article, I was curious if people with super-memories would make better life choice or could more accurately guess future happenings. People can base decisions off of past experiences. Since there are people that can remember everything about their past, wouldn't they make the best choices? It would appear as this would be the case, but I could not find scientific research to back up this hypothesis. Hopefully someone else will have insight on this idea?


Magicians use the audiences' brains against themselves. It is the error in perception, change blindness, and misconception to fool the brain into piecing together "reality." Magicians will look in one direction, causing the audience to also look away from what is actually happening on stage. When people aren't looking, the "magic" takes place. Magicians will also focus the attention of the audience solely on one area of the trick, thus completely missing what is truly happening. When people focus their attention exclusively on one aspect of life, other events are happening and changing, but people are "blind" to them.

The above link is card trick; however the trick itself is not about the card number or suit. Instead, the real trick is when the magician flips the cards over and the color of the deck changes from the beginning of the trick to the end. Simple trick, right? Did you notice the other changes?

The viewer is so contently focusing on the cards that they will not notice the color change of the shirts, table cloth, or backdrop. When going through the video myself, I fell subject to change blindness. In discussion, we watched a video about change blindness. I thought, "How could someone not notice the man changing?!" And then I failed to notice what I thought previously would be an easy thing to pick up on. It would be a challenge to oneself to attempt to train your brain not to fall victim to change blindness. If one was able to do this, they would most likely be able to understand more magic tricks, and not fall for the deception the magician does throughout their act.

Bistable Optical Illusion

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The link above is a video of three dancers, all rotating in one direction. As the video progresses, the outside dancers will take on more human characteristics, while the middle dancer remains a black shadow.

When this video was first produced, media spread that the video revealed whether the watcher was right-brained dominate or left-brained dominate. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this hypothesis.

The idea of the video is to represent
how people's depth perception is inaccurate when there are a lack of visual cues for depth. When the dancers are all black shadows, one person's perception of the dancer is that she is circling clockwise while another person views her spinning counter-clockwise. At the beginning of the video, there are no surface features or human characteristics to reveal which way the dancer is facing, so viewers will see opposing legs on the ground and arms spinning in the air. Thus, the dancer motion is dependent on how the viewer perceives the shadow. It is when the outside dancers take on human characteristics and visual cues for depth that the viewer understands the illusion. The outside dancers will spin in opposing directions, and the middle dancers will remain spinning dependently on how the viewer perceives the image. The image may also be influenced by the outside dancers.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by wolff215 in October 2011.

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