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Heroes of Science – Episode 9

 

Why is it the case that when you look in a mirror, that you’re not inverted sort of upside down rather than just left to right?

So, one psychologist that I really admired was Richard Gregory who…he was a vision psychologist, and he was awesome, he’d had such a crazy life.  He was responsible for setting up the exploratorium in San Francisco, he was a big advocate for public engagement, he set up what is now at Bristol, the science museum, and he wrote a book in the sixties called “I am Brain”, that was a big sort of core textbook for me when I was an undergraduate and that’s kind of one of the things that got me into vision science, or got me interested in it at that point.

And in another book, I can’t remember which one it was, but he posed a question, and it was a really simple question, and I didn’t know the answer to it and it was one of the first times in university where I’d really been challenged and sort of rather than panicking and going, ‘Oh no, I don’t know what to do about this’, it kind of made me more curious and it made me want to find out the answer.  And the question was, why is it the case that when you look in a mirror, that you’re not inverted sort of upside down rather than just left to right.  And I couldn’t answer that for the life of me!  And it still taxes me now, I still can’t really figure it out now.  He does have an answer but I don’t know it.