The Blue and black dress

Not since Monica Lewinsky was at the White House has one blue dress been the source of so much debate.

(And yes, it’s blue.)

Kim Kardashian said she saw white and gold – but her husband Kanye West saw blue and black.

People across social media have been arguing about whether a picture depicts a perfectly nice dress as blue with black lace fringe or white with gold lace fringe. And neither side will budge. This fight is about more than just social media—it’s about primal biology and the way human eyes and brains have evolved to see colour in a sunlit world.

Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colours. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. Critically, though, that first burst of light is made of whatever wavelengths are illuminating the world, reflecting off whatever you’re looking at. Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what colour light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that colour from the “real” colour of the object. “Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance,” says Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington.

At least we can all agree on one thing: The people who see the dress as white are utterly, completely wrong. 🙂

the blue dress

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