Optical Illusions

Scientists study optical illusions to learn how the visual system of our eyes and brain operates. Some kinds of illusions work because of the way our eyes and brain process images. Other illusions are based on the way we interpret two-dimensional images.


1.      Read the directions under each illusion, and write below it if you think the illusion works because of the way your brain process images or because of the way you have been trained to look at two-dimensional images. Explain your answers.

Do you see two faces or a vase?

Does one line look longer than the other?

Do the long lines look parallel? Angle the page so that you’re looking at the lines from the lower left corner. Now do they look parallel?

Can you see the letters or just the shadows of the letters?

When you look at the white lines, do you see gray spots at the intersections?

When you rotate this spiral does it seem to shrink or expand? When you stop rotating it, does it seem to shrink or expand?

miller_300Sparta. The word alone conjures up images of the fiercest, most barbaric warriors the planet has ever known. They were notorious for their single minded determination to be the strongest people in the world. Comic creator and living legend Frank Miller, who worked on such titles as The Dark Knight    Returns and Batman, gives the savage Spartan way of life a closer look in his graphic novel 300. A    depiction of the ancient tale of King Leonidas, who led a scant three hundred Spartans to their deaths in the war against several thousand Persians and was raised to the status of martyr in the eyes of his people, 300 is a graphic novel that serves as a theatrical portrayal of one of history’s greatest battles.

Madness? This is Sparta!

In 480 BC, King Leonidas of Sparta gathers together three hundred of his best soldiers to fight the upcoming Persian invasion, which is led by the notoriously insane conqueror, Xerxes. Xerxes’ army is several thousand men     strong and it’s

clear that Leonidas is leading his men to suicide, even though a great deal of Greeks from all over the country come to join him. Still, at the narrow cliffs of the “Hot Gates” “Thermopylae)cartel300ye31, Leonidas manages to hold the line and cut down a great number of Xerxes fighters. The invading army is forced back and Xerxes offers Leonidas the opportunity to become an ally instead of an enemy–but only if the proud Spartan will bow and be a properly obedient subject. Leonidas predictably refuses and the battle rages on.

Eventually, it looks like Leonidas and his fighting force might actually win, but a betrayal from one of Sparta’s own sees the warrior king abandoned by the Athenians who joined him. Left with only his original three hundred men, Leonidas makes a last stand, knowing that in dying and becoming a martyr, all of Greece will be inspired and drive out the assault from Persia.

Tech Specs and Final Verdict

From an artistic standpoint, 300 is visually arresting, as is common with all Frank Miller’s work. The layout is unusual in itself–each illustration is a two page spread–which only adds to the book’s allure. It feels like a movie in wide screen format, larger than life and majestic in its expansiveness. The line work is brutal, beautiful and more than a little harsh, but the warm earth tones brought by colorist Lynn Varley soften it up a little. It’s not hard on the eyes and the theatricality of Miller’s visuals is easy to get caught up in.

History buffs may have a problem getting through 300, since it discards fact in favour of dramatization, but it’s a good story. 300 is an engaging yarn that, though brutal, violent and not everyone’s cup of tea, is still a solid enough book to inspire a sense of awe in its audience.








A. = Adjective   ADV. = Adverb   IDM. = Idiom   N. = Noun   V. = Verb


A. seeing little or no good in other people, believing that people do good things for bad reasons


A. having strange, unusual or abnormal habits or tastes This term is less insulting than strange, weird or bizarre.


A. thinking too highly of oneself, considering oneself better than others


A. creative, having much imagination


A. unable to decide quickly, not knowing what choice to make


A. hard to please, too careful in choosing something


A. practical, reasonable, something that makes sense


A. easily feels emotion, easily hurt emotionally can be positive or negative


A. representing high culture, very experienced in life 


A. often doing things to make other people feel good



Fill in all the gaps using the new vocabulary, then click the “Check” button to check your answers.

   cynical      eccentric      egotistical      imaginative      indecisive      picky      sensible      sensitive      sophisticated      thoughtful   

Robin: Did you meet that guy, Richard, at the party last night?

Michele: Oh my God, he was so . He kept talking about how intelligent he was and how much money he made. He even said he was thinking about becoming a professional model. Like




that’s ever going to happen!

Robin: And Brad, the artist from New York, he was rather

! He told me he sculpts and paints nothing but frogs. He even said he wanted to introduce a new line of frog jewelry. That’s a little odd.

Michele: He wasn’t strange at all. I thought he was very . You have to be really creative to become such a successful artist. He was also incredibly

– he almost started crying as he told me about his art. By the way, look at the ring he gave me.


He gave you a frog ring? That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!

Michele: It is not! I think it’s really . He said his jewelry is the latest trend among the New York elite. Wasn’t that

of him to give me one of his creations?

Robin: Not really, I think he just wanted some free advertising.

Michele: My God, you are so

! Wasn’t there anybody you liked at the party?

Robin: Yeah, Bill was really nice. He was the only , clear-thinking person I met there.


Oh, the waitress is coming. Have you decided what to order?

Robin: I’m not sure what to order. I just can’t decide what I want.

Michele: You’re so

. Nothing is ever good enough for you.

Robin: That’s not true! I’m just a little


Michele: Well, you need to decide soon so we can order. I’m starving!



1.  of 
12.  Stephen 
13.  issue 
14.  partial 
15.  chic (“fashionable”)  
16.  bush 
17.  phone 
18.  rough 
19.  reef 
20.  fluff

11.  cupboard 
12.  sword 





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