Penrose Stairs Explanation | Impossible Stairs

The ‘impossible stairs‘ is a two dimensional staircase having four 90 degree turns forming a continuous loop. Which means that a person could climb or descend them forever without getting anywhere. This rather amazing illusion is called the ‘impossible stairs’ cause it cannot exist in three dimensions or real life. The concept was first presented in an article in 1959, by Lionel Penrose and his son Roger and are hence the name ‘Penrose stairs.

The Penroses were greatly inspired by the work of Dutch Graphic artist M.C. Escher and credited him in their article. It was after reading the copy of the article that Escher discovered the Penrose stairs with his famous lithography ‘Ascending and Descending’ (Klimmen en dalen).

Klimmen en dalen
Ascending and Descending by M.C. Escher

He later wrote to Penroses “A few months ago, a friend of mine sent me a photocopy of your article… Your figures 3 and 4, the ‘continuous flight of steps’, were entirely new to me, and I was so taken by the idea that they recently inspired me to produce a new picture, which I would like to send to you as a token of my esteem.” (Source – Wikipedia)

So what are the Penrose stairs? While the concept of relative proportions is usually used by artists to create the illusion of depth in two-dimensional art, Escher used conflicting proportions in his work to create the visual paradox. It makes sense to us because our brains are focusing on different regions in the picture. Each of those regions makes sense, but taken together they create an impossible situation.

Dutch digital artist Escher
M.C. Escher

Penrose stairs explanation – 3D concept of the stairs can be understood with this you tube video.

Note : The above video is not created by learnodo-newtonic and is simply an embed from other you tube channel.

The concept was further developed by Escher in ‘Waterfall’, another illusion that if possible could have given us clean energy forever.

Waterfall (1961) - M.C. Escher
Waterfall (1961) by M.C.Escher

Watch this trick. An amazing you tube video that shows you the ‘Waterfall’ in 3D. It’s a shocker!

Note: The above video is not created by learnodo-newtonic and is simply an embed from other you tube channel.

1 thought on “Penrose Stairs Explanation | Impossible Stairs”

  1. Hey! the amazing illusion is called the ‘impossible stairs ’cause it cannot exist in three dimensions or real life.


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