The dress that drove the Internet wild for a colourful reason: Here are 5 interesting facts

The dress that has the Internet world splitting its head. -- PHOTO: AFP 
The dress that has the Internet world splitting its head. -- PHOTO: AFP 

Anyone who has not heard about the blue/black and white/gold dress divide probably does not have access to the Internet. An innocent question about the colour of a dress from a teenager in a small Scottish island posted on social media on Feb 26 has made waves, with everyone from celebrities like Taylor Swift and Mindy Kaling, to politicians in the United States, and more locally, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong weighing in on the question.

Science has come to the rescue to explain the difference in colour perception. Here are five things you should know about the dress that has the Internet world splitting its head.

1. The dress is blue and black, period.

Mr Peter Christodoulou, owner of British clothing company Roman Originals that made the dress, told Washington Post that it is blue and black.

2. But a white and gold version will be out soon.

An actual white and gold version of the dress can be expected by the end of the year. Mr Christodoulou told Washington Post that there have been many requests for a white and gold version of the dress following the Internet frenzy, and that it would take about five months to make it available.

3. The science behind it

If you see the dress as white and gold, your brain has removed shadows cast on the dress. In a scientific explanation, the New York Times attributed the divide to "colour constancy", the eyes' ability to assign fixed colours to objects under widely different lighting conditions. Different people may pick up on different visual cues in the image, which can change how they interpret and name the colours, the article said.

4. Age matters

According to a poll on Buzzfeed, which first picked up on the dress colour question and confused the Internet world, age seemed to play a part in colour perception. The poll showed that a majority of the 74 per cent who saw the dress as blue and black were above 60 years old.

5. Why the immense interest?

The Inquisitr, beyond looking at the science of the colour of the dress, delved into the science of why people care about the dress. It seems the vast majority of people "would rather discuss the colour of a dress, a funny, innocuous debate, than deal with hard truths like beheadings by ISIS", it said.

This is because people do not feel they have much to say about the more serious topics because they are not experts, while they are experts on what they see and what they do not.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg