Home / Car News / This Optical Illusion Of A Yawning Chasm In A Tunnel Messes With A Driver’s Head Just Like It’ll Mess With Yours

This Optical Illusion Of A Yawning Chasm In A Tunnel Messes With A Driver’s Head Just Like It’ll Mess With Yours

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A good rule of thumb when it comes to driving is not to drive into any open pits, holes, chasms, or even canyons, if you can help it. Ask around if you don’t believe me! The driver in this video seems to be quite aware of this rule, and as a result is understandably reluctant to drive up the ramp into this tunnel that appears to have a huge open pit dug into it, strangely without any sort of warning signs or railings or even an orange cone or two. The reason why soon becomes clear: THE PIT IS A LIE.

Really, this is just a video about the power of water to deceive us, visually, and it’s absolutely worth watching, so, here, do so:


While this was posted on Reddit and Twitter and probably Friendster and everywhere else, the original source seems to have been this Instagram account, now made private, likely because this video has been blowing up so much.

We’re not necessarily in the business of jumping on every driving-related video that goes viral, but there really is something deeply and strangely satisfying about this one. I mean, it looks like a pit!

On deeper scrutiny, some holes–metaphorical, not literal–appear: the walls of the “pit” are incredibly smooth and featureless, when in reality you think there’d be some kind of texture, but you only really assess that after you get over the shock of, hey, a pit.

I especially like watching the other drivers approach and slow down as they try to determine just what the hell they’re dealing with here, and the sudden shock of realization that, hey, it’s water, that immediately changes the perception of everything in that tunnel.

A lot of chance criteria had to happen to make this work so well: the lighting, the depth and size of the puddle, the featureless nature of the walls, all these things conspired to make a truly excellent optical illusion, so we may as well take a moment to appreciate it.

 

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25 Responses

  1. I was travelling through a tunnel on I-71 in Cincinnati, OH once and saw the entire right lane obstructed by something. Getting closer, I determined it was a heap of detergent suds. I eased back into the right lane and hit the 6’+ high pile of suds with my pickup at 60 mph +/-. Looking in my mirror, the entire tunnel filled with the exploded pile of suds nearly obscuring vision. Someone had to do it, but I instantly reconsidered the intelligence of my choice.

  2. I spun out in this tunnel in my turbo Miata 4 years ago. I hit the throttle heading into the tunnel for some turbo-tunnel-top-down noises and wasn’t expecting the road to be wet on a sunny day. Luckily no damage done except to my ego with my then-fiance in the car with me.

  3. I saw that video the other day and instantly saw it as water and just figured the drivers where worried about the tunnel flooding.

    For whatever reason, the optical illusion of the pit of despair shows up better in the image/video here.

  4. In the 1980s I lived on NYC’s lower east side next to a water puddle with the opposite problem. An insignificant looking puddle that was actually about 20 inches deep. The residents would put a trash basket in it and twice a week the department of sanitation would drive by and put the trash basket back on the corner and almost immediately someone would drive through the puddle and tear the front suspension clear off the car sometimes running into a parked car or two for good measure. Eventually the drug dealers set up and maintained some saw horses around it because having random police show up to file reports for insurance claims disrupted their business.

    1. This is the greatest Paul Schrader movie that never was.

      I thrice was ticketed in New York for blocking a fire hydrant that didn’t exist. It was just a hole in the sidewalk where a hydrant used to be, with a basket over it. The first time might have made sense as an accident on the city’s part, but I tried parking there another time and they still ticketed me. Because who’s gonna bring that to court?

      I can’t blame the cops who wrote those tickets because if I was a New York traffic policeman I’d also be, like, “Fuck you and your Connecticut plates, especially.”

    1. Actually a good concern. I avoid water that covers the road cause no one knows what the road looks like underneath. Wonder who is going to get the bill when autopilot drives into a massive gaping pothole

      1. There’s a little roadside park near my house that has a gravel entrance, a small gravel lot, and a separate gravel exit. It borders a small river that floods regularly, so there’s always small puddles around. Some folks have turned the exit into a makeshift mud bog, with ruts 18-24″ deep (I recently saw a few lifted jeeps and trucks taking turns trying to traverse the mud). Remarkably, the road leading into and out of the bog is solid. When the water is high, it looks like a normal, shallow puddle over the exit path and it catches unsuspecting drivers. I saw a BMW SUV sunk past the door sills and nose down, with the driver standing behind it on the phone last week. I assume he crawled through the vehicle and jumped out the rear hatch.

        So yeah. Always check the depth of water or avoid it.

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