Optics and Vision Exhibit Opens at Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, Nevada



Angela Stark
Optical Society of America

Optics and Vision Exhibit Opens at Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, Nevada

OSA Foundation-supported exhibit explores optical illusions and human perception

RENO, Nev., Dec. 14 – The University of Nevada, Reno's (UNR) Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center opened its newest exhibit last week.  "Perceptual Relativity" is an interactive exhibit exploring individual perception through optical illusions.   It was developed by faculty from the UNR Department of Psychology and funded in part by a grant from the Optical Society of America (OSA) Foundation.  An opening reception took place Friday, Dec. 7 at the planetarium with a presentation by human perception expert Stuart Anstis, professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego.

"Perceptual Relativity" features approximately two dozen interactive displays that illustrate important principles of light, vision and visual perception through optical and perceptual illusions. The illusions are all related to a central theme from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity—that varying view­points can produce completely different perceptions of a single phenomenon.  The exhibit allows visitors to explore illusions where stationary figures appear to move, lines and colors are warped by their surroundings, and entirely new perceptions emerge simply by turning the picture.

"The OSA Foundation is thrilled to support this educational and entertaining exhibit," said Gary Bjorklund, OSA Foundation Board chair.  "Visual illusions are a great way for students of all ages to explore and get excited about optics.  With 40,000 visitors to the planetarium each year, the exhibit is sure to have an impact on students' perceptions of science."

The OSA Foundation provided funding for the development of many of the exhibit’s displays. Funding was also received from UNR’s College of Liberal Arts and the psychology department. "Perceptual Relativity" is a permanent installation in Fleischmann Planetarium, enhanced with several changing displays and new content during the year. 

About the OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation was established in 2002 to support philanthropic activities that help further the Optical Society of America’s mission by concentrating its efforts on programs that advance youth science education, provide optics and photonics education to underserved populations, provide career and professional development resources and support OSA's Awards and Honors program. The grants funded by the OSA Foundation are made possible by the generous donations of its supporters as well as the dollar-for-dollar match by OSA.The Foundation is exempt from US federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is a public charity. To learn more about the OSA Foundation or to find out how to donate, please visit www.osa-foundation.org or email foundation@osa.org.

About the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center

Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center is part of the University of Nevada, Reno and Extended Studies, offering science-related exhibits, public star shows and large-format films, as well as public star observing courtesy of the Astronomical Society of Nevada. The planetarium’s uniquely shaped building was designed by famed Reno architect Ray Hellman and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Built in 1964, it was the first planetarium in the world to project full-dome movies, and is currently one of the first of a handful of planetariums around the world to utilize the Spitz SciDome digital projector, a high-resolution, state-of-the-art immersive visualization tool. The projector is also adaptable to a number of disciplines and uses, supporting collaborations among the planetarium, other University departments and programs, and community organizations. Fleischmann Planetarium serves more than 40,000 visitors a year, including hundreds of school field trips that introduce students, K-12, to the wonders of the universe.