By Gordon Rugg
Complex things often have simple causes. Here’s a classic example. It’s a fractal.
Fractal images are so complex that there’s an entire area of mathematics specialising in them. However, the complex fractal image above comes from a single, simple equation.
Humour and sudden shocks are also complex, since they both depend on substantial knowledge about the world and about human behaviour, but, like fractals, the key to them comes from a very simple underlying mechanism. Here’s what it looks like. It’s called the Necker cube.
So what’s the Necker cube, and how is it involved with such emotive areas as humour and horror?