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04.03.15

So what colour IS that dress? Illusion explained!
So what colour IS that dress? Illusion explained!

It's my favourite thing on the internet at the moment. What colour is THAT DRESS? I mean, white and gold, obviously – but why are some people seeing it wrong? Ha, I jest. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' interpretation. It is blue and black in real life, although a lot of people aren't seeing it that way, through no fault of their own!

If you somehow haven't been following the debate, here's what happened. A Tumblr user uploaded a photo of a dress, saying that they were having an argument about what colour it is: white and gold, or blue and black? When Buzzfeed posted it, it broke even their records for traffic

Why do people have such different perceptions of the same image? The answer lies in the incredibly subjective perception of colour. Check this out:

 

Although as New Scientist explains, both the squares are grey, our brain see one as yellow and one as blue. This is because our brains are correcting for what colour we think the source of light is. It's a bit like our brains doing a 'white balance' for different lights, like you might do with a camera.

There's a really good, longer explanation of it all here – but basically it's a complicated image for our brains to make sense of because of the implied light sources and the choice of colours!