Today was one of those days that upon waking up and checking the state of affairs on the internet (while still in your pyjamas), you notice that no matter where you look, everyone is talking about the same topic. Normally on days like this the news is about a natural disaster, a plane crash, an awards show or a celebrity who fell over (not looking at anyone in particular Mads). This morning was different, it was not a world changing event that consumed social media and news sites, but a girl who posted a photo of a dress asking if anyone could tell her what colour it was. Sounds kinda cray cray right? This girl took a photo of her mother-in-laws dress and when she showed the photo to her boyfriend, he saw a white and gold dress, but she saw it as black and blue. Unable to reach an agreement, they asked the internet and since then the world has been split in two.
So full of confidence I clicked the link and thought, I’ll tell them what colour it is, can’t be that difficult right? And there it was, an obviously white and gold dress! No question in my mind.
What’s the big deal here? I thought. Scrolling down through the comments I saw that the reactions were split 50/50, some people said it was blue and black, while others saw it as white and gold as I did. A couple of people suggested that the people in the blue/black camp were just trolling and trying to mess with our minds. I seriously started to think that it was one of those tricks where you fool people into staring at a photo for ages when actually there is nothing to see.
So I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and I began an investigation, while I actually should have been getting ready for work, this dress had my attention, and I wasn’t alone. It seems that the whole internet was talking about it! Then I came across an article on wired.com claiming to be able to explain The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress. Science! Yes, science is the answer, here we go. It seems to have something to do with the way our eyes have learned to see colours, our brain calculates what colour something really is by ignoring or discarding the effect of daylight on the item. So if you look at grass during a sunset, it may look dark purple, but your brain will see it as green. Daylight changes colours and your brain knows that so it does it’s best to calculate what colour something would be without the influence of daylight. Sometimes this goes wrong and this is what is happening with this photo of the dress, some peoples brains exclude the wrong light information and see the dress as white and gold.
Seeing this image for the first time, I saw the blue squares but the dress was still gold and white for me. I remember this happened to me once when I was scouring through some ivory flower girl dresses a while ago. I knew this could be possible because the dress had a blueish hue and if you pick colours like that in photoshop you can often be surprised by what shows up. (Notice I was still not convinced). Then something mind-blowing happened, I scrolled back up the page and was confronted by a obviously BLUE and BLACK dress. They swapped the image, I thought, frantically clicking back to the original image, to the article on facebook, the images on twitter, everywhere I looked I saw a blue and black dress. Unbelievable!
It reminded me of this image, it looks like two different shades of grey but if you cover the middle of the image with your finger you can see that both tiles are the same colour. With the dress I couldn’t force myself to see it one colour or the other, sometimes it looks white/gold and sometimes blue/black. Since I read the explanation it mostly appears blue/black, before that it was always white/gold, I think this is fascinating, did reading the explanation force my brain to realise it was calculating something wrong? Lets just say this is the most mind-blowing dress I have ever seen!