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Color is defined as the viewers perception of light wavelength. Studying chromatics, researchers have developed color theory and the physics of color perception in addition to many other things.


The Science of Color

Electromagnetic radiation is how radiation of different frequencies and intensity levels combines. Only certain combinations, or radiation levels are perceivable by even the most sensitive human eye. Specifically, the wavelength must be between around 380 nm and 740 nm.

Spectrum is a word coined by Isaac Newton in 1671. The word comes from the Latin word meaning “appearance.”

Seeing Color

When a human looks at an object, that object appears to give off light of a certain color. For example, seeing a green apple may convince the viewer that the object is indeed giving off green light. In actuality, what is happening within the human eye and brain is an observance of the light that fails to be absorbed by the apple’s surface.

1931 -- An important historical occurrence happened when international experts as a part of the Commission Internationale d'Eclairage (CIE) developed a mathematical color model. The CIE model defines color as a three-part combination: the source of light, the object, and finally the observer. The CIE tightly controlled every variable in an experiment that produced the measurements for the system.

Language of Color

Not only does the human eye perceive colors differently, but different cultures have varying ways of including color names into their languages. Anyone familiar with Crayola crayons will probably be able to name multiple shades of any given color. This demonstrates that the English language does not limit color names to one word. It is not at all uncommon now, or in the part for languages to encompass all shades of a given color with one word. However, in contrast to English, Italian speakers will tell you that there are many different hues of blue, referred to in English simply as light or dark blue. In Italian, there are even more words like blu or azzurro.

In addition to the names assigned to colors, culture dictates the emotions indicated through the use of specific colors in artwork or other contexts. Red might be indicative of cultural values or war, blue could be tranquility or justice and white might indicate loneliness or purity depending on the context of the society in which the color is used.

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