The Dress Riddle: Scientists Finally Reveal The Mystery

In February, the Internet world went crazy over the color of ‘the dress.’ Some people saw it as blue and black, while others were adamant that it was white and gold. Now scientists have joined the debate. They have confirmed that those who thought the dress was blue and black were right. The white and gold camp was fooled by a trick of the light.

Some people filtered out too much blue

Scientists said that people in the white and gold camp are used to being outdoors, or had just been in the daylight. So, they filtered out too much blue from the photo, seeing it as white and gold. Caitlin McNeill, an aspiring singer from Scotland, posted the image of the dress on Tumblr with a question, “Guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black?”

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Soon it was doing rounds all over the Web, drawing comments and tweets from celebrities. The dress’ manufacturer Rowan Originals had to confirm that it was actually blue and black, but millions of people did not believe them. Now three different scientific studies have explained why the dress appeared white and gold to some, reports the Daily Mail.

How our brain perceives the color of the dress

The debate was caused by the mechanism our brains use to ensure that we see the objects the same color they are, irrespective of the time of the day or the type of light it is bathed in. The daylight is blueish in bright, midday sun. So the brain gets rid of the blue light. Under artificial light, it subtracts the yellow light. In both instances, the object should appear the same.

Notably, our brain relies on nearby colors such as greens and reds to decide how much of blue or yellow light to subtract. In this case, these reference colors were completely missing. So the brain had to rely on experience. On top of that, for our brain, blue is a pretty tricky color to deal with. Some people took away too much of blue and got it wrong. That’s why they saw it as white and gold.

Others who got rid of the yellows perceived it rightly as blue and black. Professor Marina Bloj of the University of Bradford said that the confusion would have never occurred if not for the special colors present in the photograph.