There has been a huge discussion on the Internet about the color of this dress that the user Skiwed uploaded to Tumblr. People went crazy.
Some people saw the dress as white and gold, while others saw it as blue and black. Some people (which includes several computer vision engineers in our team) even saw it sometimes as white and gold and some other times as blue and black. It is completely crazy.
Many people have been wondering why this is happening, and most importantly of all, who is right, those who see the dress as white and gold or those who see the dress as blue and black. The correct answer is that both groups are right and that your brain is messing with you.
Our brain generalizes colors in a way that is easy to process for us. We classify colors with a semantic description, we give them a name. Usually women are better at identifying colors, they have salmon (for a man this is just orange) or gold (for a man this is just yellow). Even in Russia, there are two ways of saying blue, golubói, which is a light blue, and síni, which is dark blue. For them those two kind of blue are completely different colors. So the conclusion is that the way we perceive the word is closely related to the language. Our intelligence is deeply related to semantics and language.
We suffer from a brain trick called color constancy. It means that the human being perceives a color in an object constant under varying illumination conditions. Take a look at this example of a black leather briefcase. You see it completely black. You even guess that the back part, which is concealed to the viewer’s point of view, is also black. But if you compute the RGB (red, green, blue) values of each pixel you will find that there is a 87% component of black and a 13% component of white. The white component corresponds to the clasp and to the reflection of the leather. The funny thing is that our brain eliminates the white reflection because we really know that it is just a reflection and the leather is black.
What happens in the mysterious dress is related to the color constancy and the way we perceive the background of the image. Some people perceives the bright background as blue, so they see the dress white and gold in contrast. Other people perceives the background as gold, so they see the dress as blue and black.
The conclusion is that you cannot trust your senses.
What is life? a tale that is told;
What is life? a frenzy extreme,
A shadow of things that seem;
And the greatest good is but small,
That all life is a dream to all,
And that dreams themselves are a dream.
Pedro Calderón de la Barca in Life is a Dream