COMMENTARY: World Without Color
In thinking about the attributes of color, one may realize we would be in a world without color if it weren’t for our brains interpreting color. That may or may not be hard for you to fathom. But if you really give it some thought, you will be able to rationalize that out.
Color transmits in the form of waves, like sound waves. The color interpretation of our brains serve us as do our ears for sound. You know how the old story goes, if there is no one in a forest to hear a tree fall, is the sound still there? The sound is there but only in the form of those waves like color waves. There has to be something there, our ears in this instance, to pick up those sound waves and interpret them.
Please realize that the vibrations of sound and light are very different. Sound is based on vibrations of air molecules as a moving compression wave. Light (and hence color) is based on an electromagnetic wave. While “frequency” is a measure commonly used for both compression and electromagnetic waves, the two types of waves have substantial differences. Sound waves travel via air or water and at a much slower rate than light waves. Sound waves travel at 1,090 feet per second, and light travels through the void of space at the rate of 186,000 miles per second. Thus, the speed of light. Think how far the sun is from us and how quickly that light appears when the sun first rises.
We all know color only exists with light. Different colors wave at different frequencies, example red is a soft wave and purple is much more active with mountains and valleys in the wave. Colors are all bundled neatly together until they hit something that can separate them. Remember, color only can exist with light.
All color waves move at a different rate. If you laid them out in a chart, the short waves would be on one end and the longer ones on the other. In the middle would be the middle would be the visible light rays. This is the area of vibration moves at just the right rate for eyes to see. Within this visible area is the Electromagnetic spectrum with multitudes of wave lengths. Each wavelength is interpreted by our eyes as a color.
If you look into a sunset with the sun low on the horizon, the objects between you and the sun, which could be houses, a barn, trees, appear black. This is because there is no light hitting the back side of them since the sun is setting on the other side. Of course, at night, there is no natural light so everything appears dark. But our brains don’t stop functioning for color just because its dark, otherwise you wouldn’t see color detail when you look at objects in the beam of a flashlight. So, the two things we have to have to see color is light (most important) and our brains for interpreting.
The world of color we are able to perceive is truly a beautiful place. Think what a gray area this would be without those wave lengths in the visible field. Our perception is extremely sharp to interpret all the subtleties of variations of hue we are able to read. The exception, of course, if you are plagued with color blindness.