Pink! And other colors…

ColorsThere are primary pigment colors – red, blue, and yellow – and the secondary pigment colors –green, orange, and purple, so where does pink come in?  Pink isn’t a primary or secondary pigment color, it’s a mixture of red and white, so why does it have its own name instead of light red, like how we call a mixture of blue and white light blue, or how we call a mixture of green and white light green?  When we look at the color pink we may not always see how it is a strand of red as easily as we can identify that light blue is a strand of blue.  By not calling pink light red and instead calling it pink, we see it as a completely different color. This may seem ludicrous, but in some parts of the world there’s no green.  The color that we see as green and different from blue some people only see as a shade of blue.  A reason for this may be that blue is all that they know of it to be. Their brains are wired so that they see green as a shade of blue because they’ve never associated it with being its own color.

It’s a difficult concept to explain, one way you might get a better understanding is by reading the book The Giver, by Lois Lowery.  The Giver is a beautifully written book about a society where everything and everyone is the same.  They don’t even see colors.  They don’t know what colors are and their brains don’t register the colors that we see as being any different from each other, like some people around the world may not see green as any different from blue.

Colors are fascinating because they are not really there at all.  It’s just our brain perceiving things as having color.  So if it’s just our brain making things have color do we all see the same colors?  Is everyone else seeing what you’re seeing?  In 8th grade I was obsessed with this seemingly simple question.  But, in fact, as you think more about it, it gets increasingly more complex.  How will we ever know if we all truly see the same colors?  Some people, those who are color blind, we have identified of having some degree of differential sight from our own, but what about everyone else?  My science teacher told me it was impossible to prove that we all see the same colors, or that we see different colors, so naturally I tried to prove it one way or another.  My sister gave me a simple answer of “we can tell if we all see the same things by the rods and cones in our eyes”.  But is that true?  It’s true that our eyes are part of our brains but the information is not processed there, it’s processed in the more commonly thought of as a brain part of our brain (the squishy sponge like part), so how can we tell by our eyes?

If you would like to learn more about colors and how our brains process light click the following link to a science and environment BBC post called Do you see what I see?

It’s a fascinating post that gives insight to how our brains work with regards to color and why individuality should be celebrated as opposed to fearing conformity.  A short summary: we’re all different, shaped by the experiences we’ve had among other things and we all see the world differently because of this.

–Nicole, 15, Greenwood

One thought on “Pink! And other colors…

  1. Cheresse

    Fascinating subject Nicole. Have you read the book Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde? It is an adult book based on the premise that people can only see one color. A Colortocracy rules, and the more varied shades you can see, the higher you are in society. Of course, there are also a few odd details like everyone is afraid of lightning strikes and no one has spoons. It’s pretty zany.


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