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Baffling optical illusion sparks online frenzy over hidden number – what do you see?


The image is of a mystery number embedded inside a striped black and grey circle that will really put your eyes to the test. The mind-boggling image also contains stripes sorted into uneven spirals that makes the challenge of determining the number an even bigger mountain to climb. And the imaging is riling people up as they flock to social media to dispute each other’s answers.

The image was posted by Twitter user @benonwine, who wrote: “DO you see a number?

“If so, what number?”

While there has been a tonne of conflicting answers, there do appear to be groups of people who agree with one another.

Some said that the only number they could see was 528 hidden beneath the black and white labyrinth.

Twitter user Louise Cooke wrote: “I can only see 528. Does that mean I have something wrong with my eyesight?”

Phil Lassman replied: I’m with you. I can only see 528. Mind you, I am a total specky!”

But another Twitter user, @suejanehall, wrote: “I only saw 45283. I’ve got macular degeneration. I wonder if that makes a difference to what I do/don’t see”.

Both of these answers are in fact wrong.

It turns out the right number hidden beneath the stripes is 3452839.

The illusion can fool you by playing on contrast sensitivity.

This is a crucial measure of visual function which lets us properly see the difference between objects and what is in the background.

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Vision Center explains: “Contrast sensitivity is the ability to distinguish between an object and the background behind it.

“Contrast sensitivity is different from visual acuity, which measures how clear your vision is at a given distance.

“High spatial frequencies make up detailed features such as sharp edges, facial features, and similar. Low spatial frequencies are more like coarse images, where you can see the overall shape of something but not detailed features.

“A contrast sensitivity test measures how well you can tell the difference between light and dark. For this, your doctor will use a different type of chart where the characters fade from black to grey gradually.”

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While it is all fun and games here, it can be applied to real-life situations too.

All About Vision explains that you might have difficulty with night driving, and find it hard to see pedestrians walking in poorly lit streets if you have low contrast sensitivity.

With this baffling image, the numbers are actually all on the same level, with all the swirls on the other.

People who have higher levels of contrast sensitivity should be able to get a better idea as to what the real figure is, and those with the highest levels might even be able to spot all seven digits immediately.





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