6J11.20 - Visual Fatigue & Afterimage

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Visual Fatigue & Afterimage
Visual Fatigue
Area of Study:
Optics, Human Biology
Construction Paper Flag Made Out of Green, Black, and Yellow, and "Hello, Red Fox" Book.

Stare at the flag without moving your eyes up to a minute.  Now look at a white surface and you should see the flag in its normal red, white, and blue colors.

The book "Hello, Red Fox" has a collection of pictures that are the "wrong" color when viewed from the book but are the "right" color when the afterimage is observed.

  • Martin Gardner, "An Apparition", TPT, Vol. 36, #5, May 1998, p. 317.
  • John W. Jewett Jr., "LED's and the 'Fluttering Heart' Phenomenon", TPT, Vol. 31, #3, Mar. 1993, p. 180.
  • D. Rae Carpenter Jr. and Richard B. Minnix, "O-770. Retinal Fatigue-Color Illusion", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook, 1993.
  • Pat Murphy, Ellen Macaulay, and the staff of the Exploratorium, "Color", Exploratopia, p. 301.
  • Paul Doherty and Don Rathjen, "Afterimage", The Cheshire Cat, p. 3.
  • Paul Doherty and Don Rathjen, "Bird in the Cage", The Cheshire Cat, p. 17.
  • Martin Gardner, "Ghost Penny", Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects, p. 36.
  • Raymond Bruman and the Exploratorium Staff, "Recipe No. 38: Fading Dot", Exploratorium Cookbook I, p. 38-1 - 38-2.
  • Raymond Bruman and the Exploratorium Staff, "Recipe No. 37: Afterimage", Exploratorium Cookbook I, p. 37-1.
  • Raymond Bruman and the Exploratorium Staff, "Bird in the Cage", Exploratorium Cookbook I, p. 30.1.
  • "Bird in the Cage", The Exploratorium Science Snackbook,  p. 27.
  • Jearl Walker, "7.15, Reading in the Dark", The Flying Circus of Physics Ed. 2, p. 311.
  • Charles Taylor, "Demonstration 3.4", The Art and Science of Lecture Demonstration, p. 114.
  • Janice VanCleave, "Negative Afterimage", Biology for Every Kid - 101 Easy Experiments That Really Work, p.  158 - 159.
  • Eric Carle, "Hello, Red Fox", Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998.
  • T. D. Rossing and C. J. Chiaverina, "Afterimages", Light Science, Physics and Visual Arts, p. 185.
  • Robert J. Brown, "Color Fatigue", 200 Illustrated Science Experiments for Children, p. 154 - 155.
  • Martin Keen, "Experiments With Human Senses", Let's Experiment, 1968, p. 153 - 155.
  • Don Herbert and Hy Ruchlis, "Your Senses", Mr. Wizard's 400 Experiments in Science, p. 9 - 12.
  • Brenda Walpole, 175 Science Experiments to Amuse and Amaze Your Friends, p. 148 - 151.
  • Jess Romeo, "The Original Illusions", Popular Science, Spring 2020, p. 114.
  • Sara Stein, "The Illusion of Color", The Science Book, p. 202.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.