Professor Kokichi Sugihara to give lecture in the USA

Oct. 08, 2019

Kokichi Sugihara, a distinguished professor emeritus in the Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Research and Intellectual Properties at the Meiji Institute for the Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences (MIMS) at Meiji University, was invited to give two lectures and an exhibition of three-dimensional optical illusions in the USA in August. The following is his report.

MAGIC Live! / Kari Hendler

One of those was the MAGIC Live Convention held in Las Vegas from August 4 to 7, which, as the organizer explained, is the largest magic convention in the US with about 1,700 professional magicians and magic aficionados in attendance. I presented nine types of impossible three-dimensional illusions that I have developed. While one of fundamental magic tricks is said to be misdirection, executing the tricks while the audience’s attention is focused elsewhere, three-dimensional optical illusions happen even if one is focused on the object, so I emphasized in my lectures that they can be used as magic that can be executed without misdirection. I gave the same lecture twice, once each in the morning and afternoon, in a 600-seat theater and I received a standing ovation at the end of both lectures. In the early evening of the day after the lectures, I was given the opportunity to use a special room to exhibit 12 real 3D objects called ambiguous objects, which change shape in the mirror.

I then went to New York to give a lecture at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in Madison Square as part of the monthly series of lectures called Math Encounters. The 170-seat venue for the lecture, advertised as The Amazing Work of Kokichi Sugihara, was full and I introduced impossible three-dimensional objects and explained the background mathematical structure. I also exhibited five ambiguous objects at the venue before and after the lecture. Even though there was a Q&A session at the end of the 90-minute lecture, people were still asking many questions even after the lecture finished.


I had the opportunity to exhibit the actual objects of impossible three-dimensional objects at both lectures. When objects that were shot with a video camera or the like were projected onto a screen, the optical illusions were dramatic. This is because there is only one camera lens center, so it is like looking at an object with only one eye and binocular stereopsis is ineffective. While some of my impossible objects produce optical illusions even when looked at directly with both eyes, the strength of this illusion can only be experienced by looking at the actual object. By having the opportunity to give a lecture that includes exhibitions of the actual objects I was able to surprise even people who have seen my work through YouTube or the like.

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