The Dress

So, unless you haven’t been on the internet this week, you’ll know about The Dress. If you don’t, google it right now, and see what colour you think it is. Personally, the first time I saw it, I thought it was blue and black…now I see it as white and gold…and I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s interested in finding out why we all see it as different colours. I also thought I’d find it interesting as I’m rather fascinated by eyes (I know it’s weird, but I like them 😉 ). So…here goes…

(I got most of my information from here and other bits from stuff on Facebook and Buzzfeed).

So, we all know that light goes into our eyes through the lens (basic biology), and that different colours are due to different wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (basic physics). The light is then beamed onto the retina, where pigments “fire up” neural connections to the bit of the brain that can turn these neural connections into images (which is what allows us to ‘see’ what we’re seeing), which is called the visual cortex. The first bit of light that reflects into the retina is made of the wavelengths that are lighting up whatever you are looking at. The brain automatically works out what colour light is reflecting off the object that you are looking at, and then takes away this colour from the object colour, allowing you to see the “real colour” of the object. Apparently, normally individuals have slight differences in the colour perception, but this dress has caused perhaps the biggest individual difference of this time.

A lot of people on the internet appear to think that this whole colour difference has something to do with the amount of rods and cones in the eye (rods are used to see black and white, and cones are used to see colour), however, it is actually because of what I have written about above, which is called luminance. The definition of luminance is “the intensity of light emitted from a surface per unit area in a given direction” (thanks Google!). In simpler terms, Buzzfeed described it as “a combination of how much light is shining on an object and how much it reflects off of the object’s surface”. So, when it comes to the case of this controversial dress, some peoples brains are deciding that there is less reflection on a well lit blue and black dress…however, those who see it as white and gold are viewing it as if it is in shadow, but is more reflected.

So, this is a fairly short post (and less than an hour after my last post…I’m feeling very motivated this evening), and I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out why we see The Dress as different colours, as I’ve really enjoyed finding out about the science behind it, and I hope you’ve found it useful/interesting.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Eleanor 😀

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