It’s a picture of a dress, worn at a wedding and posted on social media and in the last few hours hundreds of articles have been written about it.
The extraordinary interest in the picture published by 21-year-old Caitlin McNeill stems from a curious quirk of colour which means that some people see the fabric as white and gold while others see it as blue and black.
“What happened was two of my close friends were actually getting married and the mother of the bride took a photo of the dress to send to her daughter,” McNeill told Business Insider. “When my friend showed the dress to her fiancee, they disagreed on the color.”
The discussion was continued on Facebook but gained international attention when McNeill, a singer put it on a Tumblr page.
According to Wired (which says the dress is in fact blue) the difference is caused by a mechanism in the brain which attempts to filter out the changing colours of light in the world around when looking at an object.
Because the light illuminating objects is a different colour at different times of the day – more red in the morning and evening, more blue in the middle of the day – humans have evolved to try to balance this in order to see the “true” colour of an object.
However, different people do this in different ways and hence the dress appears more blue or more white.
Predictably, the hashtag #TheDress has been stimulating interest (and, given the trivial topic a certain amount of counter-interest) across social media…
MLB Memes (@MLBMeme) February 27, 2015
I think I've strained my brain… Now that stupid dress looks like THIS!
PBandJenelley_1</a> 🙈👗 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheDress?src=hash">#TheDress</a> <a href="http://t.co/xU4OOap25d">pic.twitter.com/xU4OOap25d</a></p>— Starcasm (starcasm) February 27, 2015