Hot Dresses, They Have Problems Too


This morning, the Internet broke over a dress. Yes, a dress and no, a celebrity did not wear it. So what was such a big deal then?


A girl took a photo of a dress and posted it online. Following which, a debate broke out over the colour of the dress.


Team blue and black: “Hey, how do you like this dress?”

Team white and gold: “It’s nice but I didn’t know you were the white and gold type.”

Team blue and black: “It’s blue and black.”

The whole world: “WHAT?”


In case you haven’t seen it, here it is.

The Dress:


So what do you think is the colour of the dress? White and Gold? Blue and Black? Ask a few people around you, what colour they think it is and you’ll know what the big deal is: people think it’s a different colour. Oh and what’s more: some people change their minds every time they see the photo!


When I saw it first, my friend strongly disagreed with me on the colours of the dress. I thought it was a sky blue (almost white) and gold (still do) and she was sure it was a blue and black.

Then I asked a few more people, and the debate of White and Gold vs Blue and Black broke out. The world over the internet, three-fourths voted  white and gold and one-fourth blue and black.


Initially this whole thing was just fascinating. Gradually, however, it became puzzling and extremely bugging. Regardless of what kind of light the picture of the dress was taken in, how do two people not agree on the colours they see in the picture?


What if White is Actually Blue and Gold was actually Black. WHAT? What if the sky isn’t blue and the sun isn’t yellow? Oh my god, #existentialcrisis, has my whole life been a lie?!


Want to mess with your head even more? Play around with that brightness button. Increase, decrease, decrease and increase. The colours are changing!

Then try tweaking the brightness on photoshop:




I have spent most of my day losing my head over this and trying to find answers, (Seriously, the amount of times I’ve held my head in my hands today and exclaimed what is going on…)


But lucky for you, you don’t have to.


Here are the answers (well some at least):


The first and most obvious guess would be related to rods and cones. We all know that our retinas have rods and cones and rods are for night vision or vision in dim light while cones are for day vision or vision in bright light. A possible explanation of why people see different colours could be based on which of these two dominates the other for a specific individual.


But as though everything is supposed to go wrong today, this one would be wrong again. So what is then?


As people played around with photoshop and more and more theories flooded the already going crazy internet, scientists came out with another explanation. This one is most likely the reason.


It’s not the eyes, it’s the brain; it’s not about sight (so don’t worry, you’re not blind), it’s about perception (hmm). The colour in which you see the dress depends on how your brain interprets the light entering your eyes.

Our brain is used to making light adjustments. Whenever we see an object, we decide what quantity of light of various wavelengths is entering our eyes. The light or luminance is a combination of how much light is shining on the object and how much is reflecting off its surface.

Our brain interprets this based on what we expect, based on pat experiences and objects we have come across.


People who see White and Gold:

Their brain perceives that that there is less illumination on the dress, and thus its actual colours are white and gold.


People who see Blue and Black:

Their brain perceives that there is a lot of illumination on the dress and thus its actual colours are blue and black


Optical illusion or whatever you want to call it, basically, although we all “see” the same thing, our brains interpret it differently.


By the way, just for your information, the dress is blue and black. What the actual colours in the photo are; will we ever know?



But the bigger question is, when all the buzz dies down, what will this lead to? Is there a part of biological science undiscovered? Does everyone’s eyes and brain see many other colours differently? I wonder how many more such pictures are out there!


Well, the apple has fallen. Time for the discovery. Newton?




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