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Can you hear this silent, bouncing gif? Here's why

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Harvey Day
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Can you hear this strange, silent bouncing gif? 1

Weโ€™ve got a little experiment for you. First, turn off your speakers. Now, look at this totally silent gif of a bouncing pylon:

Chances are it felt like you heard a deep thudding sound. Weird, right?

The gif, created by 3D artist and animator Chris Ollis, was shared on Twitter by scientist Lisa DeBruine at the weekend. She asked her followers: โ€œDoes anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif?โ€ Itโ€™s now gone massively viral after being shared and liked more than 40,000 times.

In a Twitter poll, 70% of people agreed that they could hear a thudding sound.

And the fascinating gif has now sparked a flurry of scientific speculation about what causes the strange phenomenon.

DeBruine said: โ€œMy favourite explanation so far is that this triggers the acoustic reflex, which is usually triggered by speech or loud noises.โ€

Christopher Fassnidge, from City, University of London, suggested that the gif is an example of synaesthesia โ€“ when one sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, involuntarily triggers another sensation in another sense.

Because synesthetic pairings can be learned when weโ€™re small, Fassnidge told The Verge, it makes sense that people can develop synaesthesia for very common things.

Gif-creator Ollis, who goes by @IamHappyToast on Twitter, told ShortList: โ€œI made the animation back in January 2008 for a weekly image challenge on the satirical digital arts forum b3ta.com.

โ€œI donโ€™t know the science behind why people hear a noise, I just animated it in a way that I thought was funny and looked right.

โ€œIโ€™m a 3D artist/animator based in the UK and have been doing this sort of thing for 25 years.โ€

And this isnโ€™t the only gif you can hear and feel. Here are a few more examples: 

Pretty amazing, really.

(Image: Chris Ollis/@IamHappyToast)

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Harvey Day

Digital writer for Shortlist.com / @harveyday94 / harvey.day@shortlist.com

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