To be honest, not even during the recent 87th Annual Academy Awards did a dress get talked about this much. The last time a dress was so heavily discussed that it made the internet blow up, it must’ve been during Lady Gaga’s “meat dress” stint. All dresses have their glory days, and this one just struck gold (no pun intended) today.
A BuzzFeed writer highlighted a Tumblr debate of a photo of a nice bodycon dress – is it blue and black, or white and gold?
Some people claimed that it’s white and gold, while others were and are still adamant that they saw it as blue and black. The white and gold camp is stronger though, and I don’t blame them. I initially saw it as white and gold too. But the argument is ongoing as we speak. In fact, it has garnered such a huge #blueandblack versus #whiteandgold debate that even some of our favourite celebrities have shared their views (no pun intended) on the subject matter.
To be honest, the reactions are quite funny:
I don’t understand this odd dress debate and I feel like it’s a trick somehow. I’m confused and scared. PS it’s OBVIOUSLY BLUE AND BLACK — Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) February 27, 2015
The dress is red and green.
— Zedd (@Zedd) February 27, 2015
What the fuck is this dress shit? — deadmau5 (@deadmau5) February 27, 2015
If that’s not White and Gold the universe is falling apart. Seriously what is happening????
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) February 27, 2015
if one more person asks me what color i think this damn dress is — Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) February 27, 2015
Just like the spoon, the dress does not exist…
— Ryan Higa (@TheRealRyanHiga) February 27, 2015
either way…im not gonna be wearing that dress… — Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) February 27, 2015
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 27, 2015
Just to highlight a few 😉
Of course, there’s a perfectly good and scientific explanation to this insane now-viral picture of a dress. A dress! Imagine that! But we digress. Wired explained that the fight is more then just social media – it’s about primal biology and the way human eyes and brains have evolved to see colour in a sunlit world.
Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colours. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. Critically, though, that first burst of light is made of whatever wavelengths are illuminating the world, reflecting off whatever you’re looking at. Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what colour light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that colour from the “real” colour of the object. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance,” says Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. “But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” (Neitz sees white-and-gold.)
Usually that system works just fine. This image, though, hits some kind of perceptual boundary. That might be because of how people are wired. Human beings evolved to see in daylight, but daylight changes colour. That chromatic axis varies from the pinkish red of dawn, up through the blue-white of noontime, and then back down to reddish twilight. “What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.” (Conway sees blue and orange, somehow.)
And in case you needed further proof, they even got their photo and design team to do a little tweaking with Photoshop to demonstrate this phenomenon.
To read more about this phenomenon, head on over to Wired.