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This blows my mind

This lesson isn't about painting. It is about color vision. Its pretty cool stuff & short, but it involves a little physics. If you are not interested here's the back button>>> BACK

The spectrum

The Color Wheel

The spectrum isn't round, its linear. There is invisable stuff sticking way out on both ends.

On our immediate left is infra-red, on the immediate right ultra-violet.

The color wheel represents the visual slice of the spectrum, but bent back on itself. Both ends, the red and the violet, connect. Though entirely different, they really do seem to smear seamlessly together. The paradox is clarified by understanding how the human eye sees color.

The human eye detects light waves. The frequency of those waves increases from red to blue. When the frequency comes faster than we can detect, we see only the beginning of one wave and the end of the next. In other words, when two pulses of light are too fast for us to seperate, then we see them as one pulse, but lasting twice as long.

What happens when our eyes see the highest frequency light that our brains are capable of handling? We see a color, which our parents taught us to call violet. What happens when our eyes see the very next higher frequency? Our brains perceive it as though it were half the actual frequency. We see a color, near the other extreme of our perception. A color which our parents taught us to call red.

Our perception of a linear spectrum is converted to an apparent circular one.

You and I may experience colors very differently. Nevertheless, because of the physics of light, we all see "red" as connected to "violet", which it definitely is not..

Cool huh,

It makes me wonder how little we really know about ourselves and by extension, the world. Would you like proof of how little you really know? You have a blind spot near your center of vision, in both eyes. You have lived all these years making up a good part of what you think you see. Don't believe me? Drop me a note and I will send you a tester so you can prove it to yourself.


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Updated 5/14//11

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