That freaky dress. And our amazing brains.

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This dress has been making waves across the net. Is it black and blue? Is it gold and white? What on earth is happening here? Well if you were to buy this dress, it would actually be blue and black ( though it is probaby sold out by now ).

Now, I really thought this was a hoax or maybe even a con. I even checked the date! That was until I asked my husband the colour and he said dark grey and blue. Woah! Now for me it was gold and white, and I say was because it then changed to black and blue after I had looked at the actual dress. All a bit freaky to be honest.

So why does this happen? Our brains are complex, clever things and, when we see, our brains adjust the information they receive to allow for colour changes that occur because of surrounding light factors, such as the sun shining or a light bulb. It does this automatically, unlike our cameras which need to be told what type of light they are seeing. You can test this by changing the colour balance on your camera or phone. We have rods and cones in our eyes that allow us to see different colours and we all have different amounts of rods and cones. Our brain either removes the blue tint allowing us to see gold and white or it removes the gold and we see black and blue. Wired.com has a more detailed explanation here and when I scrolled this article that original image of the dress, the one that sent it viral, kept changing colour for me.

And if you want to know a little more about how we learn to decipher colour watch this video, the latter half explains differences between how Westerners and the Himba tribe in Namibia see colour. Can you see the different colour here? The Himba tribe spot it in a breath. Most Westerners take their time to find it and if you see it quickly you probably work with colour in some capacity, maybe you’re a designer or an artist.Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 16.37.55

The weird thing is that we actual do not know how other people see or perceive colour. I am assuming that there is some innate reason to know the subtle differences of these greens if you are in The Himba. As a mother of a mildly colour blind son we have had a number of conversations trying to decipher what he can see. Recently his friend spent some time trying to establish what my son could see and even teaching him by showing him an array of objects, telling him the colour and then asking him what he could see. Of course, my son said the same as his friend. This however did not clarify anything for anyone. As Michael Stevens explains this inability to be able to explain something that we experience is called Qualia, great word qualia. I can never know what you see and you’ll never know what I see. I would love to know how my son sees the world. And that is the freaky thing about that dress. We just can’t explain to others what we are seeing so we end up quarrelling and trying to prove we are right. In fact we are all correct!