Family Magazine

Ghostly After-Image Effect

By Jerry At Ays

No, there aren’t any ghosts!  But this does look kind of spooky.ghostie

Would you like to see things when it’s totally dark?  This strange trick for your eyes only lasts a few moments, but it’s fun to do. Try it by yourself or with a brother or sister (or even Mom or Dad!)  It’s a trick that I learned when I was a young boy and I’m happy to share it with you!

First of all, you need to find a room with a door you can close, so it can be totally dark.  No night lights or glowing clocks! Make sure the room has a lamp with a regular light bulb in it. This is important!

The trick won’t work with a fluorescent bulb because you have to be able to flick the light on and off in a split-second. A wall switch will work best, a pull-chain is okay, and a turn-button lamp switch is the slowest.

If you have one of those super-bright flashlights, give it a try.

Once you know what to look for, you can experiment to find the best way to make a bright flash of light.

When it’s night, go into your bedroom and look around.   Pull out your nightlight and turn your clock face down on a towel.  Close the door and switch out the light.   If the room is totally dark, everything’s okay.  If you see any light at all, turn the light back on, fix the problem, and turn the light off again.

Stay in the dark for about five minutes to let your eyes adjust to no light. This is where having a little company helps.

Now, get ready! Look across the dark room at something you know is there and stare at it.

Keep staring at it in the dark and flash the light ON and then immediately OFF.

Like a flash from a camera, you’ll see the bright room, then darkness again.  Keep on staring without moving your eyes! In a moment, the room will seem to glow as the after-image from the flash registers in your brain!

If you can keep your eyes motionless, the effect will last several seconds as it slowly fades away. Give your eyes a minute or two to recover and try it again.

This is very cool and you can have a lot of fun with it. Hold your hand a foot in front of your face when you flash. It’s very weird to move your hand after the flash and still see it frozen in front of you!

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. Have fun! 


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