I found the following picture in the Internet and I am curious how from a physicist point of view to explain it.

enter image description here

Basically the idea is the following. If you are a normal person - you suppose to see Einstein here, but if you are myopic, then you will see Marilyn Monroe. If you will move far away from a computer, you will still be able to see Monroe.

Can anyone explain it from a physical point of view?

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ Because the high freuency information says Einstein and the low frequency information says Monroe? Apply a low pass filter and everyone should see Monroe. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @OlinLathrop thank you, but can you please clarify why myopic people are using low frequency information? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 15:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OlinLathrop: with my glasses on , I always see Einstein and always Monroe. , otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – ABC
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @OlinLathrop That would be great expanded as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Given the nature of the answers this might have been better on dsp.se, but I'm not going to suggest migrating it at this point. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


The reason "myopic" people see Monroe and others see Einstein is that the high frequency information in the image says Einstein and the low frequency says Monroe. When looking at the image closely, you seen the high frequencies and therefore Einstein. By looking at it out of focus (presumably what is meant by "myopic"), the high frequencies are filtered out and you see Monroe.

Here is the original:

Here are versions successively more low-pass filtered (the high frequency content was removed):

  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't "resolution" be a better term than "frequency"? Frequency seems to imply color. $\endgroup$
    – Tom B.
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 3:51

This amazing image looks like physicist Albert Einstein. However, move a few feet away from the screen and suddenly it'll transform into Marilyn Monroe. The work of Aude Oliva and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the illusion was created in three steps.

First, the researchers obtained a photograph of Marilyn Monroe and removed the fine-grained facial features, such as any wrinkles or other blemishes. Second, they obtained a photograph of Albert Einstein and removed the more coarse features, such as the shape of the mouth or nose.

Finally, the two images were superimposed on top of one another. Because the fine-grained features are visible close up, the image looks like Albert Einstein when you're just a few inches away from the page. However, move a few feet away and suddenly only the coarse features are visible, magically transforming the image into Marilyn Monroe.

[Emphasis mine.] Richard Wiseman (Professor of psychology, University of Hertfordshire), Ten of the greatest optical illusions

The Marylin Einstein hybrid image was created by Dr. Aude Oliva for the March 31st 2007 issue of New Scientist magazine.

Source. This is the paywall to the reference.

We present hybrid images, a technique that produces static images with two interpretations, which change as a function of viewing distance. Hybrid images are based on the multiscale processing of images by the human visual system and are motivated by masking studies in visual perception. These images can be used to create compelling displays in which the image appears to change as the viewing distance changes. We show that by taking into account perceptual grouping mechanisms it is possible to build compelling hybrid images with stable percepts at each distance. We show examples in which hybrid images are used to create textures that become visible only when seen up-close, to generate facial expressions whose interpretation changes with viewing distance, and to visualize changes over time within a single picture.

Oliva, Torralba and Schyns, Hybrid images


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