M. C. Escher's lithographs of physically impossible buildings are often impossibly alluring. For a few moments, viewers can imagine they're traversing those upside-down stairs. Now one research group has made it possible to bring some of these "impossible" shapes to life.
Computer scientist Gershon Elber and his lab at Technion Israel Institute of Technology wrote software that helps people design real objects that create certain illusions when viewed at exactly the right angle. Elber published a paper about the program in 2010, in the journal Advances in Architectural Geometry. Last week, Technion produced a video in which Elber sent his designs to a 3D printer. After 27 hours of printing, he had a dollhouse-size, real life version of Escher's Belvedere.
The result is just about as fascinating as a first-time encounter with Escher's original work:
Elber also has photos of many more Escher objects on his website, including simpler wooden objects he carved by hand, following designs from his computer program.