Residual Flashback LSD

I’m looking at the sun thru horizontal blinds, nearly closed. Only a tiny sliver gets thru so there is no damage to my eyes. Although it is bright. We all can see the thin lines radiating outward from the sun. I am seeing something different today. It looks exactly like magnetic lines. Like metal filings on paper with a magnet under it. If I am really careful and don’t move at all they are static and easier to see the pattern. When I move even the smallest amount they flicker and move. The lines flow in and out. They are only close to the sun, a few percent of the length of the perpendicular rays radiating outward. No drugs! Is this an interference pattern? Can you explain what I’m seeing?

I have this friend who tripped many times in college. Now he is able to see at least 4 visual effects 20 years later. Flowing water on the ceiling. Breathing walls. Trails when you move your hand. Moving patterns from the lines between the boards on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ. I can do it whenever I look out of the corner of my eye while walking there. Some of these visual effects were there all along and we just didn’t notice them before. I’m sure you can think of an example of that case. There is a scientific explanation to explain the breathing and trails. I have asked: many people have seen the moving boards in Wildwood who never tried any drugs. Let’s say a test subject was told to look for a specific visual. Besides taking a poll of 100’s of people, how can we know which of the effects were there all along and we just didn’t notice them? Which are only possible to see after LSD? How can a previous user tell the difference? Time travel is not allowed ;).

This came up today because of a new visual effect I never noticed before. Magnetic lines around the sun thru a narrow slit in the blinds. I have not taken any drugs. How could most people have missed seeing this their whole lives?

People experience odd visual effects all the time, and almost always discount them and very quickly forget them, which is the sensible thing to do in most circumstances. I do not think it has much to do with whether one has taken LSD or similar drugs in the past, except that someone who has taken such drugs may well be more interested in the odd effects (as reminiscent of stuff experienced and perhaps enjoyed during their trips), and so notice and remember them more. Someone who is a perceptual scientist may be likely to notice them more than most people do too, because the odd effects can reveal things about how perceptual systems work. For most people, most of the time, though, they are merely a distraction (usually only a minor, insignificant one) from what is important, which is actually determining what is really there in the world around them. Most illusions they see are quickly recognized as such, and ignored and forgotten. If you had not been thinking about LSD trips, you would probably have forgotten the “magnetic” lines you saw around the Sun almost immediately after you saw them.

The research of psychologist Russell Hurlburt has shown, fairly convincingly, that people have many sorts transient experiences, thoughts, etc. that in normal, non-experimental circumstances they quickly forget, and may even firmly deny ever having.

OK, but this one in particular is repeatable. Why have so few people noticed it? There is nothing explaining it scientifically when I Google magnetic lines around sun? I theorize it has something to do with how the eye works. It would not show up with a fancy camera.

How about those Cheerios we see falling when we close our eyes? Anyone?

How many have noticed a moving pattern when walking on the Boardwalk? This is also repeatable for most people to experience. All you have to do is look out of the corner of your eyes while looking up or ahead.

  1. What you are doing is not a safe way to view the sun. It is fairly likely that you have already caused permanent damage to parts of your retina and if you continue to do this you will eventually cause noticeable blind spots in your vision.

  2. You are seeing diffraction patterns caused by the light going through a slit in the blinds.

If you want to keep looking at the sun, you can buy special solar observation goggles that will allow you to do it safely. If cost is an issue, you can buy a piece of #14 arcwelding glass (the little square piece of glass that goes in the front of an arcwelder’s helmet) which is fairly cheap.

Well, I do not know specifically what the scientific explanation for the effects you mention might be. Partly that is because your descriptions are not very clear, but that is not really your fault. It has repeatedly been found, by people who have tried to do it, that describing such purely subjective effects in a way that others can recognize is extremely difficult. Repeatability isn’t necessarily the issue, it is the subjectivity of the effects. There may well be scientific explanations, and names, for the particular experiences you mention (though there also may not be: this sort of stuff is rather unevenly researched), but the names, and the descriptions given by other people, are not likely to be “magnetic lines around the Sun”, or “falling Cheerios”, or “moving pattern on the boardwalk”, which probably explains why you are not finding anything useful when you google those things.

I suspect you Cheerios may be phosphenes or afterimages of some kind,* or perhaps one of the several sorts of eyes-closed visual experiences described here by Eric Schwitzgebel (who is much concerned to give you a sense of just how unreliable and difficult to understand such reports can be). I can’t really make a good guess, based on your description, about the other two things you mention in your second post, but perhaps someone else will be able to. Your "flowing water on the ceiling may be a motion aftereffect, similar to the waterfall illusion, but, again, I cannot tell for sure from your brief description.

*Good scientific information on afterimages and especially on phosphenes (and on many other sorts of anomalous visual experiences) is rather thin on the ground, and much of the best of it is in older books and scientific journals that are not available online (or not for free, at any rate). The Wikipedia articles I linked to are not very good, even by Wikipedia standards, but perhaps they will give you enough to be able to determine what your “Cheerios” are (or maybe not). The best reference work I know of on these sorts of topics is Visual Agnosias and Other Disturbances of Visual Perception and Cognition (by Grüsser, O.-J. & Landis, T., London: Macmillan, 1991), but it is out of print, not viewable in Google books, and few libraries have it.

Moderator Note

I have merged two threads since they were basically two aspects of the same topic.

The original threads were:
Magnetic lines while looking at Sun
Residual Flashback LSD


It is very very important to realise what is going on and the dangers.

The eye has a pain response to very bright light, but it has a flaw - it only works for large objects that are bright. If you reduce the total area, but leave a small sliver of the sun visible, the eye does not register pain anymore, but that small sliver is still at full intensity. It will burn your retina just as effectively, but leave thin sliver shaped burns rather than a large circle.

There are a whole range of unsafe ways of viewing the sun. And lost of people with permanently damaged sight because of them.
On the question of magnetic lines - there are of course magnetic lines - and under during a solar eclipse they do become visible. However there is no possible way that your viewing method will reveal them. They are so faint in comparison to the solar disk that they are completely wiped out just by the atmospheric scattering that makes the sky blue.

What you can get are a whole set of optical scattering effects in your eye and off the edges of the blinds. Diffraction of the blind edges - which will be imperfect due to surface roughness and dust, and in the eye internal scattering and if you have an even slightly imperfect lens or cornea shape, optical abberations.

You could try the same experiment at night if you can find a view of a street light. That would be interesting and safe. But do not try this again with the sun.

Really thanks for the safety tips. I also have a 2w laser… :wink:

Thanks, I thought I was having flashbacks :cool:

I never used much, but have fond memories…

No longer, but for 20+ years, when tired, I would get tracks (imagine a stroboscopic effect on every (prominent) object.

I miss them…