Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura
Despite many visits to Edinburgh I’d never been there before. My expectations were of a panoramic view in a classic Camera Obscura. The attraction is so much more than this. The whole place is packed full of optical illusions, most of which you are invited to directly interact with.
Two of my favourites, which unfortunately I don’t have pictures of because I was too busy enjoying them, were the mirror maze and the vortex tunnel.
The mirror maze was a series of mirrors mounted at 60 degree intervals as you looked at them. (i.e. from above they’d be at 60 degrees from each other). Although quite a small space from outside it was very disorienting and it took some time to work through it. Each of the six possible directions shows you an image of yourself. The only way to work out the correct direction is to feel your way round. This is why they give you plastic gloves on the way in. So you don’t spoil the illusion for the people behind you…
The Vortex Tunnel is another classic illusion. A static gantry is mounted through the middle of a rotating tunnel. The whole thing is in partial darkness (UV light and faint LEDs in the spinning tunnel). Even though you know it isn’t moving your brain tells you that you are about to pitch over. My two year old daughter was both terrified and excited, as a consequence we did it four times in a row. I came out of it feeling like I’d just come off a long sea voyage and had to sit down for a minute until the spinning sensation stopped!