A blurry picture of Marilyn Monroe superimposed with a finely detailed image of Albert Einstein could help you figure out if you need eyeglasses or contacts.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the hybrid image called "Marilyn Einstein," which, if you have clear vision, will look like the Hollywood bombshell from afar but will shift into an image of the revered physicist when it gets up close. People who have vision problems may not be able to see a picture of Einstein anywhere.
This is because the image of Monroe that makes up one-half of the optical illusion has far fewer pixels than the image of Einstein, which has super dense pixels that make the little details, like Einstein's wrinkles, mustache, and the strands of his hair, jump out at the viewer.
Meanwhile, Monroe's picture is blurry and separated from the hybrid image. You can only make out the general features of her face but not the details.
"Up close, we're generally able to pick up fine details like Einstein's mustache and wrinkles," explained ASAPScience in a video demonstrating the optical illusion. "But as the distance increases, or if your vision is poor and creates a more blurred image in the first place, your ability to pick up details fades away."
The researchers who created the image conducted a study to see how our brains respond to different sorts of images. After showing "Marilyn Einstein" to participants for different lengths of time, the researchers found out that people who saw the image for a shorter length of time, specifically 30 milliseconds, picked up Monroe and nothing else. On the other hand, those who were exposed to the image far longer at 150 milliseconds were able to decipher the details of Einstein's face.
This suggests the brain first checks out the big picture before zeroing in on the finer details of an image. If it has little time to scope out an image, the brain easily picks up the general features it can quickly recognize but will not have time to process the little things.
The researchers believe the result of their experiment could prove useful to businesses and advertising. One application they cited is the creation of logos that look one way from afar and changes appearance as the viewer moves closer.