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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: 2) by khedoros on Monday March 02 2015, @08:34AM

    by khedoros (2921) on Monday March 02 2015, @08:34AM (#151748)
    That's a weak argument. If I've got a selection of color swatches displayed under a sodium vapor lamp, blue and red will look black, white and yellow are likely to look nearly identical, etc. If I take a picture under those conditions, I can't call someone who can't distinguish the red swatch out of them "colorblind", because the information in the image is insufficient. I've got a bunch of color film negatives. I can scan them onto my computer, invert the colors....and they still have a very blue tint to them (from the orange of the film itself). If I'm wearing a red shirt in the image, it'll look almost bright magenta, or maybe purplish. I can't cut out a section of that image and ridicule someone for not being able to discern what the original color was. The visual context isn't present in the image.

    The dress is blue and black, but its appearance in the image is undeniably, objectively, and measurably white and gold, due to tricks of the lighting. Some people find enough visual context in the image for their brain to do a color correction to perceive washed-out black and blue. Some people don't, and see the uncorrected colors. It's a silly thing to argue about.
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