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Thaumatrope

Thaumatrope

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A thaumatrope is a toy that was popular in Victorian times
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

.
A disk or card with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to combine into a single image due to persistence of vision
Persistence of vision
Persistence of vision is the phenomenon of the eye by which an afterimage is thought to persist for approximately one twenty-fifth of a second on the retina....

.

The invention of the thaumatrope is usually credited to either John Ayrton Paris
John Ayrton Paris
John Ayrton Paris, FRS was a British physician. He is most widely remembered as the probable inventor of the thaumatrope, which he used to demonstrate persistence of vision to the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1824; at about this time he wrote a book entitled Philosophy in sport made...

 or Peter Mark Roget. Paris used one to demonstrate persistence of vision to the Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Physicians of London was founded in 1518 as the College of Physicians by royal charter of King Henry VIII in 1518 - the first medical institution in England to receive a royal charter...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1824. He based his invention on ideas of the astronomer
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 John Herschel
John Herschel
Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS ,was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work...

 and the geologist
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 William Henry Fitton
William Henry Fitton
William Henry Fitton was an Irish geologist-Biography:Fitton was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College in that city. He gained the senior scholarship in 1798, and graduated in the following year. At this time he began to take an interest in geology and to form a collection of fossils...

, and some sources attribute the actual invention to Fitton rather than Paris. Others claim that Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

 was the inventor.

Examples of common thaumatrope pictures include a bare tree on one side of the disk, and its leaves on the other, or a bird on one side and a cage on the other. They often also included riddles or short poems, with one line on each side.

Thaumatropes were one of a number of simple, mechanical optical toys that used persistence of vision. They are recognised as important antecedents of cinematography
Cinematography
Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography...

 and in particular of animation
Animation
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. The effect is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in several ways...

.

The coined name translates roughly as "wonder turner", from "wonder" and τρόπος "turn".

Thaumatropes in popular culture


In the Tim Burton
Tim Burton
Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

 film Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow (film)
Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American period horror film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving and stars Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Marc Pickering, Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones,...

, the thaumatrope is on a necklace which Johnny Depp's
Johnny Depp
John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II is an American actor, producer and musician. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. Depp rose to prominence on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, becoming a teen idol...

 character Ichabod Crane
Ichabod Crane
Ichabod Crane is a fictional character in Washington Irving's short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, first published in 1820.-Origin:...

 carries with him.

In the film The Prestige
The Prestige (film)
The Prestige is a 2006 mystery thriller film written, directed and co-produced by Christopher Nolan, with a screenplay adapted from Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name. The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century...

, Michael Caine
Michael Caine
Sir Michael Caine, CBE is an English actor. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules ....

's character repeatedly uses a thaumatrope as a way of explaining persistence of vision
Persistence of vision
Persistence of vision is the phenomenon of the eye by which an afterimage is thought to persist for approximately one twenty-fifth of a second on the retina....

.

Louis XIV's
Louis XIV (band)
Louis XIV was an American rock band from San Diego, California.-Beginnings: :Lead singer/guitarist Jason Hill, guitarist Brian Karscig, and drummer Mark Maigaard formed the group in April 2003 while living in Paris, France. Bassist James Armbrust soon joined after.Louis XIV, the band's first album,...

 music video for "Guilt by Association" was inspired by thaumatrope. The video is edited in a way that even if only one member is on the screen, the other can be seen by persistence of vision.

Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 Singer-Songwriter
Singer-songwriter
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose and sing their own musical material including lyrics and melodies. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the...

 Paper Bird released an album called Thaumatrope in November 2009.

See also

  • Electrotachyscope
    Electrotachyscope
    The électrotachyscope is an 1887 invention of Ottomar Anschütz of Germany which presents the illusion of motion with transparent serial photographs, chronophotographs, arranged on a spinning wheel of fortune or mandala-like glass disc, significant as a technological development in the history of...

  • Flip book
    Flip book
    A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are often illustrated books for children, but may also be...

  • Phenakistoscope
    Phenakistoscope
    The phenakistoscope was an early animation device that used the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.-History:...

  • Praxinoscope
    Praxinoscope
    The praxinoscope was an animation device, the successor to the zoetrope. It was invented in France in 1877 by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Like the zoetrope, it used a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder...

  • Strobe light
    Strobe light
    A strobe light or stroboscopic lamp, commonly called a strobe, is a device used to produce regular flashes of light. It is one of a number of devices that can be used as a stroboscope...

  • Tachometer
    Tachometer
    A tachometer is an instrument measuring the rotation speed of a shaft or disk, as in a motor or other machine. The device usually displays the revolutions per minute on a calibrated analogue dial, but digital displays are increasingly common...

  • Zoetrope
    Zoetrope
    A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words "ζωή – zoe", "life" and τρόπος – tropos, "turn". It may be taken to mean "wheel of life"....

  • Zoopraxiscope
    Zoopraxiscope
    The zoopraxiscope is an early device for displaying motion pictures. Created by photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in 1879, it may be considered the first movie projector. The zoopraxiscope projected images from rotating glass disks in rapid succession to give the impression of motion. The...


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