Week of July 27, 2003


Have you ever been fooled by an optical illusion? At the Internet Psychology Lab at www.ipsych.com, try psychology experiments that let you explore how your brain works and how it sometimes doesn’t work. In Cognition, test your reaction time and learn about the Stroop effect. Then head over to Visual Perception for some mind-bending mirages. Some of the explanations may be a little advanced, so keep a dictionary handy. Whatever you do, don’t let these brainteasers give you a headache.

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Visit the Featured Web sites to find the answers.

What class of illusions includes the Müller-Lyer illusion?

distortion illusions
perception illusions
visual illusions


When was Hans Christian Andersen’s first book of fairy tales published?



What name was given to da Vinci because he was left-handed?
Lefty Leo



Fairy Tale Theater

Catch up with Hans
Christian Andersen at
Andersen Fairy Tales at www.andersenfairytales.com/en. He wrote more than 150 fairy tales, and his folk stories were translated into more than 100 languages. Enjoy interactive versions of stories such as “The Emperor’s New Suit” and “Faithful John.” Most of Andersen’s folk tales show differences between social classes and are modeled after his experiences. With these stories, you’ll see the similarities between society then and now. (Disclaimer: This site now contains advertisements.)

Master Draftsman

View masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, at www.metmuseum.org/special/ Leonardo_Master_Draftsman/ draftsman_splash.htm. Follow the online version of the exhibition to view the highlights of each gallery. The Audio Guide gives curators’, scholars’ and authors’ perspectives on da Vinci’s work. Read an essay about one of da Vinci’s defining characteristics, his left-handedness. You can learn about the events in his life that correspond with his work by following the chronology of his life and work.

Should skate-boarding
be allowed on public sidewalks?

Speak Out Here!

Dear Amy: What are subliminal messages?
— Tia, Charleston, S.C.

Dear Tia: Subliminal messages are used with video or audio recordings. They are recorded in a manner that prevents people from detecting the messages while still being affected by them. Generally, subliminal messages are used to cause people to believe something or do something. For example, in the 1920s, the BBC used subliminal messages in its jingles to convince people that the radio was a positive means of communication. According to a University of Michigan site at www.umich.edu/~onebook/ pages/frames/legalSet.html, Britain and Australia banned subliminal messages in advertising.

Dear Amy: How does an internal combustion engine work?
— Carson, Surfside Beach, S.C.

Dear Carson: To answer this question, I’ll turn to HowStuffWorks at http://auto.howstuffworks.com/engine.htm. The gas you put in a car combines with air and is compressed in one of the cylinders in the engine. A spark plug fires and ignites the compressed air-gas mixture, causing an explosion. The explosion moves the piston within the cylinder, which turns the crankshaft and powers the car.

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