Optical Illusion Rays

Here are some rays in the Wild Reef exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium.

Fun fact about me: I had been to the Shedd Aquarium once before, as a small child. I have only the vaguest memories of it. But to this day,  I still have lots of weird surreal dreams, which often come with a sense of being somehow connected to the Shedd Aquarium.

One recurring dream is about going around in some kind of museum with lots of exhibits behind glass, each with something strange and otherworldly in it. Visiting the Shedd Aquarium last week definitely brought back that feeling.

Another dream I often have involves fish inexplicably swimming around in the air.

It can’t have been caused by this exhibit, which was installed pretty recently. But this is a freaky optical illusion.

The rays are swimming in a shallow pool in the center of a darkened room. The pool is lit from within. So there is virtually no reflection on the surface of the water, which makes the water effectively invisible.  It looks as if the rays are swimming around in the air, an inch above dry sand.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. If you look at the right angle, you can faintly see some reflections that tell you the water is there.

But there is no plaque or anything to explain the illusion. So, I’m pretty sure some people go to the Shedd Aquarium and come home thinking it has LEVITATING LAND RAYS.

 

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