Last night, a viral image of a dress that appears black and blue to some and white and gold to others (blame the optical illusion on bad lighting) broke the Internet. The world was split into two teams over the garment's "true" color. Opinions were declared, passionate debates were had. And Hollywood took sides:
Black and Blue Supporters
White and Gold Supporters
"I love that the entire internet is having an existential crisis together!! 🙌(white and gold obviously)#WhatISColorAnyway"
Chloe Grace Moretz:
"my mind is blown. What do you guys see?? Is this dress blue and black, or white and gold?"
And Those Who Are Over It
(Spoiler: a second image of the dress was found, and it is in reality black and blue.)
Update: Dr. Reena Garg, ophthalmologist at Mt. Sinai in New York, provides something of a medical explanation for this phenomenon. "This is definitely an interesting picture," she says. "First, it would help to understand how we see color. Our eyes have cells that are light sensitive and help us distinguish color and shade. They are called the rods and the cones. The cones are color sensitive, specifically to red, green, and blue. The rods are shade sensitive and see black and white. In dim light settings, only the rods are activated, and we are able to see contrasts in shades. This helps us with our night vision. In bright light settings our cones also become activated and we can discern colors. The rods and the cones work together with other cells in the eyes and the brain to organize the light reflected as contrasts between light and colors—or as shades of colors. The retina has adaptive mechanisms to correct images based on the input from the rods and cones and the shades and colors that it is receiving."
So, why do some people see this dress as gold and white and others as black and blue? This photograph was probably taken on a phone camera and is very poorly exposed. It depends if your retina is interpreting this photo as over or under exposed, or more scientifically if your rods or cones are dominating the image interpretation. If you see the dress as black and blue, you're probably seeing the photo as overexposed, meaning there is too much light, so the colors in the dress appear darker to you after the retina has compensated. If you see the dress as white and gold, you're probably seeing the photo as underexposed, meaning there is too little light and the colors in the dress appear lighter to you after the retina has compensated."
So no, we're not all crazy. It's science.
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