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Camera or eye: Which sees better? - Michael Mauser


12,575 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

Your eyes don’t always capture the world exactly as a video camera would. But the eyes are remarkably efficient organs, the result of hundreds of millions of years of coevolution with our brains. Michael Mauser outlines the similarities and differences between your eye and a video camera.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

We want to thank Michael Bach and Akiyoshi Kitaoka for allowing us to use their images in this lesson.

Eager to try some of the demonstrations that can help you better understand how the eye functions? Visit Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena, a website by vision scientist Michael Bach. It includes intriguing illusions with great explanations. Be sure to see the Benham's top illusions. You might also search the internet for patterns and ideas on making tops to experiment with. Akiyoshi's Illusion Pages is a website by psychology professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka featuring artistic visual illusions that demonstrate eye jitter. Check out the anomalous motion illusions. WOW!

Exploring the Anatomy of Your Own Eye, by Michael Mauser includes hands-on activities. Check out several of the different ways to locate your blind spot. Did you find it? Experiencing Light's Properties Within Your Own Eye, another article by Michael Mauser includes a demonstration on chromatic aberration in the human eye. Michael Mauser also has a TED-Ed lesson to check out: What are those floaty things in your eye?

Have your “eyes” on some books on this topic? Interested in the link between the eye and the brain? Mind Hacks: Tips and Tools for Using Your Brain, a book by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb has everything you might be interested in! Don't let the title deter you! More than one-third of the activities concern vision. Be sure to try Hack #14: See the Limits of Your Vision and Hack #24: Create Illusionary Depth With Sunglasses. Another book to peruse is Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing, by Margaret Livingstone. It’s an awesome book! Try Livingstone’s demonstration of central vision blue blindness (pages 44-45). Finally, go to the library and check out: Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing, a book by Richard L. Gregory. This book is an updated, very readable classic in the field. He describes how to detect the change of shape in the human eye lens (page 38), the blindness you encounter when your eyes move (page 47), filling in of the blind spot (page 58) and many other interesting experiments.

Just beginning to understand the eye and want to learn even more? Color Vision, a website by Bruce MacEvoy has a thorough and engaging analysis for the interested beginning artist or scientist. For some videos related to the human eye visit: This is not yellow: Vsauce, Why are stars star-shaped, and Computer color is broken both by MinutePhysics.

TED-Ed also has several “out of sight” lessons on the human eye! These include:

How we see color: Colm Kelleher
The evolution of the human eye: Joshua Harvey
Why do we cry? The three types of tears: Alex Gendler
Could a blind eye regenerate?: David Davila

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Michael Mauser
  • Animator Nick Hilditch
  • Editor Charly Simpson
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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