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Editors note: Starting today we have some great new articles written by Pete Harley (Observer). We are very grateful to Pete for taking the time to produce these well-researched articles. Share them with your friends to that the SAM Club rich with very talented bikers. Thank you.

This is the first of a (probably) short series of talks/articles that Paul (our esteemed editor) asked if I’d consider writing because, many moons ago, I used to edit the newsletter.  I did have a look to see if I could find any of the old articles in the hope of being to regurgitate them without having to do any real work.  Unfortunately, my archiving system could find old copies of the newsletter but not of the articles I wanted so no luck there.  The idea is to provide some “light entertainment” but, with a bit of luck, a serious point at the end – so here goes with something new (to me, at least) …..

We all have engraved on the front of our brain the letters:

I   P   S   G   A

and have absorbed the importance of the different stages of the system.  We know (?) that the most important part is the first:


indicating Information.  To a large extent we gather information by observing (looking?) although smell, hearing, feeling contribute also (as well of that sixth sense born of experience and anticipation) but the one I want to concentrate on here is vision.

Now, I must say immediately that I have no expertise or particular knowledge in this area and so you should treat anything (and possible everything) that I write here with the greatest circumspection – i.e. don’t believe a word of it without checking for yourself!  For the most part what I hope to describe here has been found by looking on the internet and reading articles there.  I’ve included links to the origin of the diagrams I’ve included here – clicking on the diagram should take you, via your browser, to the appropriate site.

Last year we had an excellent talk from Tony Archer on the eye and vision (I’m hoping that if anyone has a question that Tony will be able to answer it!)  I’m not going to repeat what Tony said but am going to look instead at the next stage in the process of “looking”: what happens when the messages leave the eye and head for the brain. 

I’m going to talk about the visual system: what we see or don’t see or, more accurately, what we think we see or don’t see.  So I’m not going to be bothered about our eyes or optic nerves but what happens in the box in the diagram below of the visual system, i.e. in the brain.

To set the scene I’m going to direct you to some images in a couple of websites that illustrate some optical illusions that I’ll hope to talk about in later articles (Fran talked about some similar illusions in a talk she gave to Observers some time ago; Paul and Russ have included similar pictures in some of their Facebook posts).

1. Are the lines parallel?
2. Can you see the triangles?
3. Is this possible?
4. Why do things disappear (stare at the central yellow spot and see what happens – you may need to enlarge the image)?

That’s probably enough for now – have a look at these illusions (and all the others out there – it’s fun!) and I’ll talk more specifically about some of them next time.

Until then – STAY SAFE!