Know what that is? Do ya? Huh? Huh? Do ya? Do ya? Doyadoyahuhdoya? It’s a player token for the worlds toughest game of Trivial Pursuit. Double the pie pieces, twice the frustration.
Let me just say this right here and now; if we ever meet in person, you do not want to play against me in a game of Trivial Pursuit. My family learned that after 3 games, or so. They did, however, suggest Trivial Pursuit when we were with relatives who wanted to play games. My dad was the youngest child and my mom the second youngest in large farm families. (dad has 7 siblings, mom 8). My guess is they were getting revenge for all the times their siblings kicked their butts at games while growing up.
Actually, what that thing is is a color wheel.* A wheel of color. Not too different that the colors of the spectrum. Not the full spectrum, mind you. There’s no way to display the full spectrum. Because parts of the spectrum can’t be seen by humans.
But I digress......
I have touched on the subject of color before, but today, I’m going to really look into it.
Let’s start by asking what is color? That’s an easy question to answer, right? Wrong.
What we see as color depends on what we’re looking at. Some color, like your computer monitor, use additive color. It combines Red, Green and Blue to make all the possible colors. You will hear it referred to as RGB. Electronic devices use this. There’s also subtractive color. It uses inks or dyes to create different colors. But where RGB emits the color, subtractive colors use Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black to combine and absorb certain light waves which results in the proper color wavelengths being reflected back to the eye. This is known as CMYK.
These are human produced effects, though. Nature has her own methods. The colors we see in nature are a result of Absorption, Reflection or Emission. Basically the same principals as RGB or CMYK, except naturally occurring.
To make it simple, if it’s an electronic device, or is powered by some sort of chemical or physical device, the color you see is emitted as specific wavelengths of light. Virtually everything else is a result of reflection and absorption, meaning the full spectrum of light hits the object and it absorbs some waves and reflects others.
Buy how we see color isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what color is.
Specifically, what is red? Or, what is blue?
As small children, one of the first things we learn is that the sky is blue. As a result, if you point to a clear, sunny sky and ask anyone in the world what color they see, they’ll answer blue.
But, what if it’s not the same color?
Let me use myself as a good example. The color blue that you see when you look at the sky may not be the same color blue that I see, even if I’m standing right next to you. That’s because everyones eyes are different. And for some people, like me, my eyes are different.
If I use both eyes and look at the sky, I see blue. If I close my left eye, the sky is still blue, but it’s a different shade. If I close my right eye instead of the left, it’s yet another shade. So, in the space of a second, I can look at the sky and see three different shades of blue.
The reason for this is one of my eyes has rods and cones that aren’t calibrated with the other eye. With my left eye closed, a white wall will have a slightly bluish tint, while my right eye closed will show a slightly reddish tint. With both eyes open the tints tend to cancel each other out. I have no idea which eye is right and which is wrong.
But what it does is, it shows me how different eyes will perceive the same color differently. So the shade of blue you see will not be the same as anyone else. You both will see it as blue, though, because what you see is what everyone calls blue. So it’s blue. What you see is red is what everyone calls red, so it’s red. That doesn’t mean it’s actually red. What you see as red I might see as green. But it’s the name we were taught for that color, so we agree.
You can notice the differences if you start showing people color mixes. For example, I have a t-shirt that I swear is beige. A coworker says it’s olive drab. She can see the subtle green in the shirt. Because of the way I see color differently, I don’t see the subtle green and it looks like a dark beige to me.
So if we looked at a blue wall, we would both say it’s blue. But if you could see it as I see it, you might change your mind and say it’s lavender. Because of the differences in how our eyes intercept the light waves reflecting off the wall. If I saw the wall as you see it, I might say it was maroon.
People have said for eons that people don’t see the world in the same light as others. They weren’t just talking about perception in a metaphysical light. They were talking about actual colors and actual light with real differences.
*Color is correct. Colour is also correct. Although, to be honest, there’s a red squiggle under colour. but since I’m an American, I will use the American English spelling and not the Commonwealth English. The reason? ‘Murika! Now gimmie mah guns and bible and deep fried bacon wrapped sugar dipped lard chunks!