The science behind the dress colour illusion | Internet

It’s not every day that fashion and science come together to polarise the world.

Tumblr blogger Caitlin posted a photograph of what is now known as #TheDress – a layered lace dress and jacket that was causing much distress among her friends. The distress spread rapidly across social media, with Taylor Swift admitting she was “confused and scared”.

The internet is now made up by people firmly in two camps: the white and gold, and the blue and black – with each thinking the other is completely wrong.

But Ron Chrisley, director of the Centre for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, believes that the problem mainly lies in the fact that everyone has forgotten we are dealing with an illusion.

Chrisley said: “The first step in reaching a truce in the dress war is to construct a demonstration that can show to the white-and-gold crowd how the very same dress can also look blue and black under different conditions.”

The image below, tweeted by @namin3485, demonstrates that even though the right-hand side of each image is the same, in the context of the two different left halves, the right is interpreted as being either white and gold, or blue and black.

So does this mean people who are less self-confident are more likely to be able to see both, at least eventually?

Chrisley said: “My guess is it’s not to do with self-confidence. It’s a perceptual issue. I could imagine someone that’s open minded could still see it only one way. This is below the level of us trying to understand other peoples views. It’s more physiological than that.”

Look at the image below. The colour of surfaces A and B are identical. Place your finger over the join where the top and bottom half of the image meet.

Colour illusion
Surfaces A and B are the same colour. Photograph:

Both surfaces are grey, right? But how?! Why?!

Chrisley said: “Which colour we see isn’t just a matter of the light coming into eyes, it’s the inferences that caused that input. We use the context to inform our colour experiences.

“Some suffer more than others due to how people factor in context in order to construct a colour experience. Some people see just what’s in front of them and some people are affected much more by the context.

“This has yet to be proven, but given what we know of the brain, and it’s a good guess, is that someone who is used to manipulating images and white balance might be able to perceive the true dress colour in a wider range of contexts and ignore context, whereas others can be easily manipulated. People who have changed luminance in Photoshop may not be fooled by it.”

Take the following colour illusion. Squares A, B and C appear to be different shades of brown. Cover the surrounding squares and you’ll see they are in fact the same colour.

Colour illusion
Squares A, B and C are the same colour. Photograph:

Chrisley said: “Another striking thing about the dress illusion is that it is quite unlike the checked shadow illusion, in that not all people experience it, and those that do often do so differently.

“It is as if there is a perceptual equivalent of those who can roll their tongues and those who can’t. But it is too early to say whether the difference is genetic, as with tongue rolling ability, or something affected by learning and personality such as being a night-owl or one’s particular sensitivity to context in perception, as I and fellow Sackler colleague Acer Chang speculate.”

Here’s the science behind #TheDress colour illusion

You may have gathered this by now, but what we are experiencing is really a colour illusion. Colour illusions are images where the object’s surrounding colours trick the eye into incorrectly interpreting the colour.

What’s happening with #TheDress is that your eye is either discounting the blue so you’re seeing white and gold, or discounting the gold so your eye sees blue and black. But why would your eyes lie to you like this?

Human beings evolved to see in daylight, but daylight changes the colour of everything we see. Human eyes try to compensate for the chromatic bias of daylight colour.

We see objects because light is reflected. When we look at something, light enters the eye with different wavelengths which correspond to different colours. This light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments shoot signals to the part of the brain that processes these signals into an image.

Your brain figures out what colour light is bouncing off the object your eyes are looking at by subtracting that colour from the real colour of the object.

Speaking to Wired magazine, Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies colour and vision at Wellesley College in Massachusetts said: “Most people will see the blue on the white background as blue. But on the black background, some might see it as white.”


Surge in poles: Tony Abbott’s flag count hits a new high | Australia news

Tony Abbott’s announcement that Australia will send more troops to Iraq was made in front of no fewer than eight flags, bringing the flag-count-in-announcement index to an all-time high.

This follows a six-flag announcement only last week, prompting social media discussion, jokes, and comparisons to the number of flags used by other world leaders.

Here, I’ve collated the number of flags in backdrops to prime ministerial announcements posted to Tony Abbott’s YouTube channel, with the addition of his election night acceptance speech and the recent six and eight flag announcements:


After starting on a high of four flags at his election victory speech, the average flags per announcement (excluding the recent additions) is 1.5.

The four flagger has been used sparingly – once for an announcement after his first 100 days in parliament, and then it wasn’t seen again until an announcement about the economy in July 2014.

Some people* have hypothesised that the number of flags in a political announcement can be directly correlated with the importance of the announcement, bringing into being a new political rating system: flagginess.

The appearance of the six– and eight–flag backdrops marks a significant increase in flagginess, and if the trend continues we may well see a 10-flagger before the end of the year.

The increase has prompted comparisons to the US:

Danny Russell

@gabriellechan Ah Ha!

March 3, 2015

And various jokes:

The Shovel

Here’s a wide angle shot of Tony Abbott’s national security speech today #auspol

February 23, 2015

Matt Cowgill

At the current rate of growth, we’ll need 3234 flags at each Prime Ministerial announcement by 2050

March 3, 2015

James Jeffrey

They’ll eventually run out of flags, so here’s an idea for future press conferences

March 3, 2015

*Yes, ok, by some people I mean me**.

**No, I don’t really believe you can measure the importance of political announcements by the number of flags.


Click To Win

Click To Win

A baby weasel was photographed riding a woodpecker in Essex, UK, and the internet lost its mind.

Amateur photographer Martin Le-May captured the incredible scene after hearing the bird in distress. Unfortunately, it turned out that the baby weasel was trying to kill the woodpecker and hadn’t graciously accepted a free ride.

Luckily the bird escaped unharmed, and the two internet heroes live to fight another day. Speaking to the Standard Le-Ray said: “Quickly the bird gathered its self-respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

“The woodpecker left with its life, the weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry.”

Here’s a round-up of the best five #weaselpecker memes.

Add your meme to the list via GuardianWitness

james abraham

Putin’s latest PR shoot #WeaselPecker

March 3, 2015

The Poke

What do you see? Weasel and woodpecker or white and gold?

March 3, 2015

The Poke

I came in like a #WeaselPecker

March 3, 2015

Travolta knows … #WeaselPecker

March 3, 2015

AJ Jefferies


March 3, 2015

Add your meme to the list via GuardianWitness


Jeremy Clarkson tours Guardian HQ after joining fossil fuel divestment drive – video

Former Top Gear presenter meets Guardian staff following his decision to back campaign for fossil fuel divestment in an effort to ‘regain the trust of the British public’ Continue reading…


Quiz: Is comment weird? Spot the real Guardian headlines amid the fakes | Media

Sydney jokester and internet personality Dan Nolan has been having fun this week with
his new ‘comment is weird’ Tumblr. The blog is an extended parody of headlines on the Guardian’s opinion pages, featuring lots of made-up headlines juxtaposed with photos of real Guardian commentators. The whole thing has caused enough of a stir on social media that Australia’s NT News
has put a reporter on the story. So how easy is it to tell the difference between Nolan’s fake headlines and some real headlines from the Guardian’s website?

What are your experiences of renting in London? | Society

Private renters in London face soaring costs with the shortage in housing, and a host of other factors, pushing up prices everywhere. Renters find it difficult to get on the ladder and workers are pushed further and further from the centre of the capital.

In the three months prior to June rental prices rose five times faster than the average tenant income, according to the Office of National Statistics.

As the shortage of housing causes prices to spiral out-of-control, unconventional living arrangements emerge. Room-sharing with strangers, for example, is on the rise and increasing numbers of 20-to 45-year-olds are moving back in with their parents.

So what’s your experience of renting in London?

Have you seen your rent go up by exorbitant levels mid contract? Are you one of those who has moved back with your parents because you can’t afford rent?

Perhaps you are one of the many divorcees in their 30s or 40s or key workers who just find it difficult to live in London because of the accommodation expenses.

We want to hear from you. Share your story by filling in the form below. We’ll use a selection in a feature on the London rental crisis.


Life after disappointing exam results: share your positive stories | Education

Not everyone finds themselves jumping in the air on exam results day for an enthusiastic newspaper photographer. While some students receive the grades they want, others will be more than disappointed.

A levels and GCSEs are great markers in our lives, with the former signalling the end of thirteen years of school education. There is a lot to celebrate. But for those of us who don’t make the grades it can be hard to see a way forward.

Grades fell slightly last year, but does this mean that more people will fail to go on to have fulfilling lives? No, it doesn’t. I got an E in textiles. But it all worked out okay in the end.

Did you receive less than desirable GCSE or A Level results? What happened next? We want to hear your positive stories for a feature on the site.

Fill in the form below, or email:


A proper coffee at last.

Restaurants and bars are allowed to open all over the island as of today. I was expecting many places to be really busy, but this wasn’t the case. It’s been 9 long weeks and apart from the odd takeaway coffee, I finally had coffee in Garajau this morning and it was very quiet with only […]

The post A proper coffee at last. appeared first on Madeira Island News Blog.


New South Wales’ new logo and slogan slips by unnoticed – almost | New South Wales

When Victoria unveiled its new state logo and tagline to much fanfare in August, the New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, was quick to get a jibe in.

But at least people noticed Victoria had a new logo.

Perhaps wary of similar negative publicity, New South Wales seems to have changed its corporate branding with no fanfare at all.

In fact, the new logo and slogan appear to have been in place for at least a week. That’s at least a week in which Baird has managed to avoid a witty retort from Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews.

The earliest reported sighting of the logo was at a press conference in Martin Place on 2 September, but ABC Sydney’s photo of it was met with a straight-faced response on Twitter: just one retweet.

When it resurfaced on the social network a week later, the response was somewhat larger, but also rather less kind.

“The definition of designed by committee,” tweeted The Feed host Marc Fennell.

Though the state government website and branding guidelines were on Thursday still showing the old waratah logo, a spokesman told Guardian Australia that there had been no attempt to conceal the “freshening up of the state brand”.

“Victoria had a huge campaign and a huge launch, costing a huge amount of money. We’re just quietly filtering it through into the different bunting and branding and so on.

“We haven’t made a big deal out of it, but we’re certainly not trying to conceal or hide it.” He agreed that it was something of a “soft launch”.

When asked what “it” was that New South Wales was making happen, the spokesman said it was “just a buzz around the state in terms of economic growth and infrastructure”: “The premier has used the phrase several times this week in media conferences and it feels like we are making it happen.”

The Victorian premier had yet to publicly respond to the new NSW logo as this article was published. Your move, Daniel Andrews.


Finally girls matter: Why religious leaders are vital in fight to end FGM | Society

As someone who comes from a very conservative Muslim household, one of my biggest struggles has been trying understand the link between Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Islam. My father is an Imam and growing up I always heard my family refer to FGM as sunna. Even though sunna is not an obligation, it is a favoured action in Islam.

Last year I sat down with Imam Fatty, the former imam of the State House Mosque who has strongly advocated FGM in the Gambia.

Although we did not agree on the majority of issues around FGM, it was an important moment when the renowned hardliner admitted to me that FGM is not a religious obligation.

This was a huge step forward for the campaign. In the past few months we’ve witnessed previously unthinkable changes in the approach to FGM in the Gambia. In November the country’s President Jammeh agreed to ban the practice and since then we have been working behind the scenes to make sure that this law is really used to protect the rights and lives of young women from FGM.

My team and I in partnership with Think Young Women and Women’s Bureau with funding from The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund and The Girl Generation organised the first National Islamic conference in The Gambia.

This event gathered religious leaders from all regions of the country and also with well-known religious scholars from Senegal and Mauritania. In the lead-up to the conference we were faced with a number of hurdles that we had to overcome and even getting some of the religious leaders in the room proved difficult. Ninety per cent of the religious leaders who attended were pro FGM, and this was a steep learning curve for us as we were addressing an audience who we needed to convince to come on side.

It was important for us to provide a space where we could encourage them to engage in the issue and speak their minds so that we could find a way to move forward together.

By the end of the conference we could sense that something had changed. The general consensus was that FGM is a harmful practice that is not Islamic, although there are some who still need to be convinced.

A simple majority of 16 from the Supreme Islamic Council agreed that circumcision or mutilation, should be stopped as recent times has proven that the practice causes more harm than good. These sixteen religious leaders signed a declaration to join other leaders involved in the fight to end FGM in The Gambia.

One statement that really stuck in my mind was by a religious scholar from Farafeni. He is known as one of the most pro FGM religious leaders. At the end of the conference he stood up and said: “If this practice is bad for our daughters, lets please end it now”. He then walked up to me outside and thanked me.

Culture is not stagnant. When you look at where we started to where we are now, you will see that change is happening.

This conference was needed to create an understanding than FGM is not just an Islamic issue but it also practised in non-Islamic states and communities such as those in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. By addressing the misconceptions around FGM and Islam with discussions involving religious leaders, The Gambia can serve as a model for other countries in Africa.

There is hope for the millions of girls that are at risk and as young people, with the future ahead of us, we know that hope is the only thing stronger than fear.