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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday February 28 2015, @07:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the Do-mine-eyes-deceive-me? dept.

Color scientists already have a word for it: Dressgate. Now the Washington Post reports that a puzzling thing happened on Thursday night consuming millions — perhaps tens of millions — across the planet and trending on Twitter ahead of even Jihadi John’s identification. The problem was this: Roughly three-fourths of people swore that this dress was white and gold, according to BuzzFeed polling but everyone else said it's dress was blue. Others said the dress could actually change colors. So what's going on? According to the NYT our eyes are able to assign fixed colors to objects under widely different lighting conditions. This ability is called color constancy. But the photograph doesn’t give many clues about the ambient light in the room. Is the background bright and the dress in shadow? Or is the whole room bright and all the colors are washed out? If you think the dress is in shadow, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black.

According to Beau Lotto, the brain is doing something remarkable and that's why people are so fascinated by this dress. “It’s entertaining two realities that are mutually exclusive. It’s seeing one reality, but knowing there’s another reality. So you’re becoming an observer of yourself. You’re having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that’s the basis of imagination.” As usual xkcd has the final word.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2015, @01:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01 2015, @01:01AM (#151339)

    To board the speculation train, my guess is it has to do with how many bad photos you've seen.

    I was thinking that too.

    There is no way in hell you could see the gold parts as black, unless you were conditioned by thousands of photos where something you knew was black looked gold.

    But I came to the exact opposite conclusion. I'm very sensitive to black-point miscalibration, I see it in badly encoded movies all the time - even straight from the studio they occasional fuck-up the black point, set it too high like it is in this photo. I use a PC to play all the video I watch on tv. One of the main reasons I do that is for the ability to correct messed up black levels. So, based on my experience with such things I was expecting you to say that people who have seen a lot of that would recognize it as black and blue because they have experience with that sort of error - as I do.

    However, I have seen it as gold and white when it was thumbnailed next to some text on a page with white background.