When I first saw The Dress, I was awash with an overwhelming feeling…of absolute nothingness. I first saw it as black and blue, but after a few seconds of messing with the brightness and contrast settings on my phone, I could make it literally any color I wanted. The original picture is an amazing demonstration of how flash affects pictures. It is truly incredible to think that a white flash from a phone camera could potentially make a dress look brighter than it did originally.
This dress deserves no more of your time or consideration. I would like you instead to think about the concept of taking a picture of the flash from a camera. The speed that light travels is so inconceivably fast that it would be theoretically impossible to see light move with the naked eye. However, a professor at MIT created a camera that takes pictures at one trillion frames per second. That equates to about 10 billion times slower than reality. Ramesh Raskar can see individual beams of light as they move across a plane. Or, as shown in his TED talk, through a bottle of coke, or around a tomato. Ramesh states that a bullet fired from a handgun traveling the same distance, the length of a coke bottle, photographed at the same speed would take literal years to watch.
And yet a picture of a dress goes viral and gets covered on CNN and MSNBC. Another topic that does not get the airtime that it deserves, quantum levitation. It is as cool as it sounds. A super-cooled superconductor suspends itself in a state of quantum lock over a magnet. Basically it can levitate. No electricity, no strings, no wires, nothing aside from physics. The demonstrations you can easily find on youtube involve a sapphire disc, about half a nano meter thick holding itself in suspension over an average magnet. The most amazing thing is that these extremely small discs can carry up to 70,000 times its own weight. So if the now half micron thick superconductor were made to be five millimeters thick, it could carry up to 1000 Kg or about the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle. This technology was developed in Tel-Aviv University in Isreal, and I’ve never heard it covered on CNN.
However at the mention of word “science” in my article, WordPress suggests a video of a firecracker going off inside a rubber band ball. The media has a tendency to sensationalize things, but rather than get them to stop, because they won’t– as long as ratings and advertisers exist–can we get them to focus on the way cooler stuff that happens all the time? Rather than disagree about the colors of a dress, can’t we all just come together to agree on how freaking awesome hover-cars would be? Or how awesome the new Boston Dynamics robots are? Or how freaking cool it is to take pictures at the speed of light? Or sculptures that can simulate life using wind power? I implore you, next time you’re about to read or hear about a social media craze, respond by sharing an awesome piece of new tech instead. We can wait to discuss the colors of a dress until after we make hover-boards a reasonable thing.