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Internet

# People are losing their minds over this circle-filled optical illusion

### Yes, there really are circles there.

The coffer iIllusion appears to be nothing but right angles, but there really are circles in there.

Optical illusions are always fun to play with, but some can be particularly challenging on the old eyes and brain. It's fascinating to see how different people process them and how quickly or slowly—or sometimes not at all—people see things that aren't really there or see images hidden within other images.

Not to brag, but I'm kind of an optical illusion savant. It usually doesn't take me longer than a few seconds to see whatever it is people say they are seeing. But occasionally an illusion comes along that stumps me to the point where I wonder if people are actually lying about what they are seeing.

This rectangle/circle illusion is one of those.

It's called the coffer illusion and was created by Stanford University psychologist and vision scientist Anthony Norcia. The image is made up of a pattern of black, white and gray lines of various shades that create the illusion of rectangles. It's easy enough to see the rectangles.

What's not so easy to see are the 16 circles in the image. Yes, they really are there.

Take a look:

Seriously, at first my brain said, "Nope." How could there be circles? All I see are straight lines. Straight lines horizontally. Straight lines vertically. Not a single curved line anywhere in sight. How can there be circles if there are nothing but right angles in the image?

So I did what any self-respecting social-media-savvy person would do and started scrolling the comments to see if anyone explained how they saw circles.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead if you're still trying to see the circles on your own.)

One way to see the circles is to focus on the vertical bars between the rectangles. For some, that makes the circles suddenly pop off the screen.

For people who need more of a visual clue, someone broke it down with colored shapes, literally circling one of the circles.

Once you see them, it's pretty easy to switch back and forth, but hoo boy, does it take a while to actually see them the first time.

Why is that?

According to an explanation from a professor and student from the University of Sydney, the reason we have a hard time seeing the circles at first is because of our brain's strong tendency to identify objects in what we're seeing. The lines come together to form edges, contours and shapes, and our brains fill in the objects.

"For most people, the grouping into rectangles initially dominates," the authors write. "This may be because rectangles (including the ones we see in door panels) are often more common than circles in our daily environment, and so the brain favours the grouping that delivers rectangular shapes."

I figure it's also likely due to the rectangles looking more 3D (therefore like a real object) while the circles appear as 2D.

Aren't our brains amazing?

Pop Culture

## Millennials bond over the weird no phone 'money rule' that sets their generation apart

### Folks under 30 will never understand.

@jennielongdon/TikTok, Photo credit: Canva

It might not be hip, but it makes sense!

Online shopping is an integral part of adult life no matter what age group you fall into. But apparently there’s one digital spending habit that didn’t make it to Gen Z.

UK-based radio host Jennie Longdon recently went viral for sharing how—despite being able to do virtually everything from our phones—folks over the age of 30 can’t seem to part with using their laptops for “big purchases.”

“Takeaway , clothes, shoes within reason, yeah,” she says in a clip posted to her TikTok. “But…a plane ticket? That’s a laptop job!”

Longdon continues to feign disgust as she imagines big purchases being made from the phone, as these items obviously require the larger screen. It’s just something that a millennial brain cannot get behind. “We cannot make a big or significant purchase on the phone. You can't browse properly."

@jennielongdon Bigger screen for the big things please. #millennial #millennialsoftiktok #millenialmum #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - Jennie Longdon

But there may be some sound reasoning behind this seemingly outdated logic. According to Fluid Commerce, the average desktop provides “over 3 times as much information” as a smartphone screen, allowing for more research. Laptops might not offer quite as much information as a desktop, but they certainly offer more than a phone, and it’s just good common sense to want as much information as possible before making an investment.

Either way, most millennials seem willing to die on this hill.

“Big purchases on the computer because I don’t trust mobile apps to show me everything I need to know,” one wrote in the comments.

“Big purchase requires the big internet,” added another.

A third said, "I will literally look at the information on my phone, then go get my laptop to go to the same site to book it.”

A few even shared horror stories of trying things the newfangled way and it backfiring immediately.

“I lived dangerously the other day and booked a hotel room on my phone and it tools ages buffering at the confirmation screen and I was fuming and knew I should’ve done it on my laptop,” one person lamented.

Another wrote, "I booked a mini break on my phone once and I accidentally refreshed the page with my thumb midway through booking.”

Still, there are some millennials who are on board with the phones-only approach.

"I booked flights, accommodation, and extracurriculars for four people on my phone recently,” one person wrote. "I was so proud."

Another said, "I'm a millennial and I just booked my Vegas hotel and flights on the phone. It's.....fine....."

Lastly—kudos to this commenter, who truly got to the root of this issue by saying:

“We grew up in an age when mobile websites were terrible and we’ve never forgotten it.”

That really hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it? Some scars just never truly heal.

Health

## How much water do you really need to drink each day? Spoiler: It's not 8 glasses.

### The optimal health myth that just won't die.

Are we drinking too much water or not enough?

We all know that humans need water to survive, but how much just plain water do we actually need to consume each day to be healthy?

If your instinct is to say 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, you're not alone. For many of us, that figure has been ingrained into us since we were kids by health class teachers, family doctors and concerned caregivers alike.

However, needing 8 glasses a day of water is a total and complete myth.

Despite being deeply embedded in our collective conscience, there's little to no scientific evidence to back up the idea that drinking 8 glasses—or any specific number of ounces—of water per day is ideal. This fact might take a minute to digest, since these days so many of us carry water bottles measured in specific ounces to help us stay hydrated and may even track our water consumption with an app or daily planner.

Knowing how many ounces of water we should drink and tracking how much we do drink may give us a satisfying sense of control, but it's largely meaningless. According to the Mayo Clinic, staying hydrated isn't so much about how much water you drink but about how much fluid you consume overall, including from foods and beverages besides water. And that amount is different for every person because every person's body is different.

Additionally, our circumstances are different each day. If you're exercising or sweating from the heat, your body's hydration needs change. If you're sick, pregnant or breastfeeding, your hydration needs change. Certain medications can alter how much fluid your body needs, as can a high-salt diet.

But there must be some kind of guideline, right? We can't just be willy nilly drinking water whenever we feel like it in the age of step counts and sleep tracking apps, can we?

Inadequate hydration is linked to early aging and chronic disease, among other things, so it's important to get enough fluids. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine lists adequate daily fluid intake as:

- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men

- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

That doesn't mean that's how much water you should drink. Fluids can be found in food—many fruits and vegetables are high in water content and count toward hydration. Any milk you drink and even yogurt or cottage cheese you consume adds to your fluid intake. Soups and broths? Super hydrating. Other beverages, even ones that contain caffeine as long as you don't overdo it, count as well. And again, those numbers are just a general guideline. Your body size, overall health, environment and lifestyle all influence your own specific hydration needs.

Some doctors point out that we have a natural mechanism to tell us when we aren't well-hydrated—thirst. "Drink when you're thirsty" may sound like basic advice, but it's what many physicians recommend. However, thirst is a sign that your body is already mildly dehydrated, so some recommend drinking before you get thirsty as well.

Just don't go too far that way, either. Another common myth is that you can't drink too much water, but that's not true. A tragedy in 2023 in which a healthy mother of two drank four bottles of water in about 20 minutes and died of water intoxication highlighted the importance of not drinking too much water too fast. And drinking an excess of water overall, though rarely a problem for well-nourished adults, can make it hard for your kidneys to process properly.

One way to gauge your hydration level besides monitoring thirst is to check your pee. While it doesn't need to be clear(contrary to popular belief) it shouldn't be dark. According to Healthline's handy hydration chart, "lemonade" is about the shade you're looking for. Too clear means you're probably overhydrating. Darker than a light beer and it's time to up your liquid intake a bit.

Water is good. Hydration is important. Pay attention to thirst. Shoot for lemonade-shade pee. That ought to keep you on the right track for getting enough liquid without having to keep track of how many glasses or ounces of water you drink each day.

Family

## People applauded after Mark Wahlberg confronted the DJ at his daughter's dance party

Mark Wahlberg on "The Ellen Show."

Actor Mark Wahlberg recently attended a daddy-daughter dance with his 10-year-old, Grace. Sadly, Grace had no interest in seeing her father strutting his stuff on the dance floor.

"I didn't get one dance," Wahlberg told Ellen DeGeneres. "And I told her we were going to do the whole big circle and I was going to go off. And she said, 'Dad, if you embarrass me, I will never talk to you again.' But what she did do is she hung out with me."

No matter who your dad is, especially if you're a 10-year-old-girl, you have zero desire to see him dance in front of your friends.

But the parents at the dance probably would have had a blast seeing Wahlberg bust out some of his old-school '90s Marky Mark moves.

However, Wahlberg couldn't help but leave his mark on the music being played at the dance.

Let's not forget, he didn't get famous for his acting but for showing off his abs in the "Good Vibrations" video.

Being that Wahlberg's time as a pop star was three decades ago, he couldn't believe it when he heard the music being played at the dance.

"[Grace] sat there on the edge of the stage, by the DJ. And then I'm sitting there with one other dad and I'm like, 'This is not an edited version of this song. There are explicit lyrics being played at a school dance for girls and I'm like no good,'" he said.

"I told the DJ and he's like, 'Oh, I thought it was.' I said, 'What are you doing?' I'm hearing F-bombs and this and that's not okay," Wahlberg said.

He's right. There's no place for music with explicit lyrics at a dance for 10-year-old children.

Wahlberg says the DJ didn't know he wasn't playing the edited version, but it's probably more likely that he didn't even realize the song was a problem. Pop music these days is filled with a numbing amount of violent and misogynistic lyrics.

A recent study from the University of Missouri found that nearly one-third of pop songs contain lyrics that degrade or demean women by portraying them as submissive or sexually objectified.

Currently, three of the top five songs on the Billboard Top 40 contain the word "bitch." One of them is sung in Korean.

It's odd that Americans have become more sensitive to misogyny in pop culture in films, television, and comedy, but still have a huge cultural blind-spot when it comes to music.

That's not a good thing, especially when pop music is marketed to teenagers.

"We know that music has a strong impact on young people and how they view their role in society," said Cynthia Frisby, a professor in the Missouri School of Journalism.

"Unlike rap or hip-hop, pop music tends to have a bubbly, uplifting sound that is meant to draw listeners in," Frisby continued. "But that can be problematic if the lyrics beneath the sound are promoting violence and misogynistic behavior."

Let's face it, pop stars are role models. Their examples show young people what to wear and how to behave. That's not to say that kids will blindly follow someone just because they like their music. But it has an undeniable effect.

Wahlberg, and any parent who monitors what their kids are listening to, deserve credit for protecting the minds and hearts of their kids.

Frisby has some great advice for parents concerned about negative imagery in pop music.

"Ask your daughters and sons what songs they like to listen to and have conversations about how the songs might impact their identity," Frisby said.

"For example, many songs might make young girls feel like they have to look and act provocative in order to get a boy to like them, when that isn't necessarily the case. If children and teens understand that what they are hearing isn't healthy behavior, then they might be more likely to challenge what they hear on the radio."

He's right. There's no place for music with explicit lyrics at a dance for 10-year-old children.

Wahlberg says the DJ didn't know he wasn't playing the edited version, but it's probably more likely that he didn't even realize the song was a problem. Pop music these days is filled with a numbing amount of violent and misogynistic lyrics.

A recent study from the University of Missouri found that nearly one-third of pop songs contain lyrics that degrade or demean women by portraying them as submissive or sexually objectified.

Currently, three of the top five songs on the Billboard Top 40 contain the word "bitch." One of them is sung in Korean.

It's odd that Americans have become more sensitive to misogyny in pop culture in films, television, and comedy, but still have a huge cultural blind-spot when it comes to music.

That's not a good thing, especially when pop music is marketed to teenagers.

"We know that music has a strong impact on young people and how they view their role in society," said Cynthia Frisby, a professor in the Missouri School of Journalism.

"Unlike rap or hip-hop, pop music tends to have a bubbly, uplifting sound that is meant to draw listeners in," Frisby continued. "But that can be problematic if the lyrics beneath the sound are promoting violence and misogynistic behavior."

Let's face it, pop stars are role models. Their examples show young people what to wear and how to behave. That's not to say that kids will blindly follow someone just because they like their music. But it has an undeniable effect.

Wahlberg, and any parent who monitors what their kids are listening to, deserve credit for protecting the minds and hearts of their kids.

Frisby has some great advice for parents concerned about negative imagery in pop music.

"Ask your daughters and sons what songs they like to listen to and have conversations about how the songs might impact their identity," Frisby said.

"For example, many songs might make young girls feel like they have to look and act provocative in order to get a boy to like them, when that isn't necessarily the case. If children and teens understand that what they are hearing isn't healthy behavior, then they might be more likely to challenge what they hear on the radio."

Pop Culture

## Why some fans mistakenly thought Vanessa Kirby was 'thirsty' for Pedro Pascal during interview

### The duo were seen holding hands while on stage for a Comic Con panel.

Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia, Hugo Coucke/Wikipedia

Not all hand holding needs to be romantic.

Since actors Vanessa Kirby and Pedro Pascal began promoting Marvel’s new “Fantastic Four” reboot (playing Sue Storm and Reed Richards, respectively), fans have speculated over their offscreen chemistry.

Countless clips of their red carpet interviews have circulated social media, with comments noting how they “couldn’t stop staring at each other” following, suggesting romance was in the air. Most of the theories fell pretty heavily on Kirby’s side, with people joking about her “flirting” with Pascal, even being full blown “in love” with him.

So when the duo were seen holding hands while on stage for a Comic Con panel, you can bet more rumors spread. But the truth behind that hand hold is actually much more heartwarming.

Pascal has frequently been open about his struggles with anxiety, especially in high profile situations. In an interview with The Guardian (according to Wio News) he shared that it “is something that I’ve lived with since I was a child, so it’s a part of my chemistry. I don’t know what kind of person I’d be without it. It’s something that I manage, but it’s also part of what makes me, me.”

You can see Pascal “managing” this stress in real time in a video posted to Instagram about a year ago, when he performed his new signature red carpet pose of placing his hand on his upper abdomen, and telling his “Last of Us” costar Bella Ramsey that “my anxiety is right there."

We see a bit more of that in the now-viral clip of Pascal and Kirby. Starting to get overwhelmed, Pascal reaches out for her, and after he briefly touches her upper arm, Kirby gracefully reaches behind to grab his hand, and holds it for the remainder of the interview, never missing a beat.

It’s such a simple gesture, but having someone hold your hand really does work wonders for regulating those overwhelming emotions and grounding us into the present moment. And people applauded Kirby for “understanding the assignment.”

“You can tell he needed support and she was there to help him,” one viewer wrote.

Others commended Pascal for dropping the masculine bravado and just being vulnerable.

As one person put it, “I think he's doing something wonderful for men everywhere by not masking and letting people see his anxiety. We should normalize giving comfort and support, especially in public places. She's fantastic for so freely offering that lil bit of support too.”

Another said “To all the young bucks in need of male role models... look at Pedro instead of the Andrew Tates of the world. It takes a lot of vulnerability to speak about dealing with anxiety let alone show it in such a public venue. Pedro is the epitome of what masculinity should be. Be strong, but gentle.”

So did we get a sneak peek into showmance? Who knows, and frankly…who cares? What we definitely saw was a tender moment of compassion between two humans, and a brilliant example of the importance of support and companionship for those managing anxiety or other mental health challenges. That’s the real thing worth talking about.

Science

## Are you a night owl or an early riser? One group's brains work a lot better.

### Time to reset your alarm clocks.

An early rise and a night owl.

A common belief in American culture is that people who wake up early have all the advantages. As the sayings go, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” and “Early bird catches the worm.”

It makes sense. Early risers are seen as better disciplined and their schedules are more aligned with modern-day work culture.

However, a new study by researchers at Imperial College London has found the opposite: Night owls do better on cognitive tests that measure their brain function than those who get up at the crack of dawn. The researchers embarked on the study to help people suffering from age-related cognitive decline.

“Our interest in this topic stemmed from a broader curiosity about how lifestyle factors, particularly sleep, influence brain health. Given the aging population and the rising prevalence of cognitive decline, understanding the relationship between sleep patterns and cognitive function could help develop better interventions and health guidelines to maintain cognitive health in older adults,” study authors Raha West and Daqquing Ma said, according to Psypost.

To determine whether early risers' or night owls' brains work best, the researchers asked just under 27,000 participants the number of hours they sleep at night and what time they go to bed. They also tested them on reasoning, memory, verbal and mathematical intelligence, reaction time and prospective memory.

After crunching the numbers, they found that night owls did much better on the cognitive tests than those who got up early. “Our study found that adults who are naturally more active in the evening (what we called 'eveningness') tended to perform better on cognitive tests than those who are 'morning people,'" West said, according to New Atlas.

The researchers studied 2 different groups of people. The night owls in Group 1 scored 13.5% better on their brain function tests than early risers, and the night owls in Group 2 did 6.5% better.

Further, the folks in the middle (neither night owls nor early risers) performed better than the early risers (10.6% and 6.3%).

“In my expert opinion, the main takeaway should be that the cultural belief that early risers are more productive than ‘night owls’ does not hold up to scientific scrutiny,” Dr. Jessica Chelekis, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability Global Value Chains and a sleep expert from Brunel University London, told Science Media Centre. “While everyone should aim to get good-quality sleep each night, we should also try to be aware of what time of day we are at our (cognitive) best and work in ways that suit us. Night owls, in particular, should not be shamed into fitting a stereotype that favors an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ practice.”

The study provides good ammunition for night owls, often stereotyped as lazy party animals, to push back against those who like to get up when the rooster crows. The question remains: Why do early risers have so much brain fog? A night owl may presume they are still sleepy from waking up so early.

West says that the study shouldn’t be used to judge early risers and that those who’d like to change their sleep habits should do so.

“It's important to note that this doesn't mean all morning people have worse cognitive performance," West said. "The findings reflect an overall trend where the majority might lean towards better cognition in the evening types. While it’s possible to shift your natural sleep habits by gradually adjusting your bedtime, increasing evening light exposure, and keeping a consistent sleep schedule, completely changing from a morning to an evening person is complex.”