Scientists Say: Pareidolia
There’s a word for when you think you see Katy Perry in your toast
Pareidolia (noun, “Pear-eye-DOH-lee-ah”)
When we imagine a pattern or meaning where none really exists. Some people see a face when they look at the moon. But the craters are randomly placed. The “man in the moon” that people see is the result of pareidolia.
In a sentence
Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope took a photo of two bright galaxies. The light around the galaxies distorted into a curve in just the right place. Instead of two galaxies and a light distortion, we saw a smiley face, which was the effect of pareidolia.
Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter
(for more about Power Words, click here)
galaxy A massive group of stars bound together by gravity. Galaxies, which each typically include between 10 million and 100 trillion stars, also include clouds of gas, dust and the remnants of exploded stars.
pareidolia Perceiving a meaning or a pattern where it does not exist, as when people see a “man in the moon.”