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Phenakistiscope HTML5


Brought to you in cooperation with the Musée des arts et métiers - Paris.

The Phenakistiscope is a disk that turns freely around its own center. An observer must turn the disk at sufficient speed while observing images on the disk through a slit. This procedure results in an animated image, repeating itself in loop fashion, appearing on the other side of the slit. The Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau, born in 1803, is often credited with the invention of this ancestor of motion pictures.
Photo credits: Musée des Arts et Metiers, Paris, 2008.

Use the slider to control the speed of rotation.

Learning goals

  • To illustrate the phenomenon of persistence of vision at the level of the retina.
  • To compare the principle of the phenakistiscope to that underlying modern cinema.

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Photo credits : Musée des Arts et Metiers, Paris, 2008

The Belgian physicist Joseph (Antoine Ferdinand) Plateau and the Austrian mathematician Simon Stampfer are credited as co-inventors of the…

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