Moiré Patterns

A large red and blue cube frame that has orange and blue information panels hanging from top to bottom. Inbetween these panels are blue and orange trianguular and square objects.

Interference patterns create visual illusions.

How it works

Holding frames of different lines against each other create interference and the illusion of Moire patterns

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • Put one frame in front of another and line up the patterns.
  • Turn the front frame until you see a new, third pattern.

Background

The third pattern you see is called a Moiré (“mwah-ray”) pattern. It forms when two patterns partly overlap. A line on the front covers up some of the clear space behind to make a thicker, darker region. A clear space on the front lines up with a clear space behind to make a clear space. The dark and clear spaces of varying thickness combine to form Moiré patterns.

Finding the science in your world

You can make Moiré patterns at home using two layers of flyscreen wire or two fine-tooth combs.