Penrose Endless Stairs Visual Optical Illusion

Penrose was among the first researchers who have analyzed the relationship between mental retardation and genetic disease and how it is transmitted across generations. Most of his models were impossible figures and one of the most interesting is the impossible staircase.

What to see?

If you look at the picture you can see a paradox illusion, it’s called like this because it has no sense if you try to explain the way it functions. You can see a two-dimensional depiction of a staircase in which the staircases make four turns and they all look to move only up. Even if we see them ascending or descending in a continuous loop we always will have the impression that a person could climb them forever and never get any higher. If you will look at each stair, separate, you will say that it is a normal staircase and will probably try to watch it again as hole. It still doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Penrose Staircase Optical Illusion

How it works?

The Endless staircase is one of the most known impossible figures and it’s also known as the impossible staircase. If this would be a real stair, and there are some constructions made like this, you would start climbing and climbing but at a point you will realize that you haven’t moved at all from the starting point, in high that is.

This drawing was created using perspective distortion. For our brain the image seems normal because it’s focusing on different regions in the picture. Each of those regions makes sense, but taken together they create an impossible situation.

Several people studied the way it was built: the original model has a line on the right is separated from the rest of the model. We can’t see the split because our mind tries to perceive the picture from a non-accidental point of view. In conclusion the visual system sends to the brain the information that the stairs are joined. Even if the staircase seems conceptually impossible for us, it doesn’t interfere with our perception of it. To some people the paradox doesn’t even appear and to some the image appears as a normal staircase.

What do you think? Can this be built in the real life?

Yes, it can be built in the real life. The best examples are: the movie Inception and the roof of a monastery where monks are going up and down endlessly. This roof was created by the famous artist Maurits Cornelis Escher Dutch and it’s called “Ascending and descending”.

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