Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

Why Are There Colors?

Why Are There Colors?

Why Are There Colors? Sunlight may appear to be white, but it is actually a mixture of all the colors that can be seen in a rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. When white light hits an object, some of the colors are absorbed and some are reflected. The reflected colors are the ones that we see.

The petals of a red flower absorb most of the colors of the white light that shines on it, reflecting the red rays. Therefore, red is all we are able to see. A yellow flower absorbs all of the colors but yellow. A white flower reflects almost all of the colors back to our eyes.

Our eyes are formed of structures that transmit electrochemical impulses when they are impacted by energy in specific wavelength (energy) ranges. How our brain perceives these different impulses is what we call color.

It is simply a perceptual phenomenon that has developed, apparently, to take advantage of the differential response of light energies when interacting with matter. Color is one way our brain identifies energy in the surrounding environment.

As a conclusion,  things do not have color by themselves — only when light (energy) hits them, we can see them. This is precisely why your surroundings appear grayish or downright black when you’re in the dark.

Also, remember our eyes can only see a limited range of colors. But dogs, cats, mice, rats and rabbits have very poor color vision. In fact, they see mostly grays and some blues and yellows, while bees and butterflies can see colors that we can’t see. Their range of color vision extends into the ultraviolet, and in fact, they couldn’t have survived otherwise.

Evolution led bees to adapt ultraviolet vision because flowers leave scatter ultraviolet patterns, allowing the insects to easily identify targets and pollinate. But while humans can’t see them beyond our visible spectrum, the machines we build can. This is what spectrometers are for.

Content for this question contributed by Val Neri, resident of, Concepcion, San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines