Benham’s Disk

Concentrate on the spinning eye at the center of the disk. Soon, from the black-and-white image, colors will emerge. These colors are not coming from the spinning image (the spinning image stays black-and-white, we promise!) but from within your eyes, your lyin’ eyes. As the disk slows, the colors will change positions, tone, and intensity. Different people will see different colors. It’s weird.

How It Works

Scientific explanations can be a letdown. Really, was anyone happier to learn that rainbows are not the homes of leprechauns with pots of gold, but optical illusions caused by refracted light? Are we better off knowing albinos are not holy children from the moon, just regular folks lacking melanin pigment?

Indeed, sometimes scientific explanations can disappoint, which makes it even more thrilling to find some mystical magic that researchers still can’t explain. Like Benham’s Disk. Introduced in 1894 by toymaker C. E. Benham, this black-and-white patterned disk is monochrome when stationary, but when spun, unleashes a flickering array of colors. What’s weird is the colors seem entirely real, as though the disk were creating some sort of portal to another, fantastically hued world. And still, after over century, nobody knows how or why it works.