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Distorted Room

Distorted Room
See your friends go from tiny to towering in a few steps.

From one view, this room looks like a normal room, but people and things inside may seem quite strange.

Peer into what looks like a perfectly normal room and you’ll see an astonishing effect straight out of Alice In Wonderland: People seeming to grow and shrink as they wander around the checkered floor of this unusual room.  

 

Visitors enter the Distorted Room exhibit.
Visitors play inside the Distorted Room exhibit.
Visitors play inside the Distorted Room exhibit.
What’s going on?

What makes the illusion of this special room, called an Ames room, so effective is a carefully chosen vantage point. Viewed from a particular angle, this slanted room looks square, even though the ceiling on one side is actually about twice the height as the other. Since square rooms are the norm in our world, your brain decides the room is square—a decision that causes the people inside to seem to grow and shrink as they move from one side to the other.

A diagram showing the visual illusion of the Distorted Room exhibit This illusion has been used widely to create special effects in movies and television. In The Lord of the Rings, for example, several scenes set in the Shire relied on Ames rooms to make the hobbits look tiny relative to Gandalf. (click diagram to enlarge)