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What is blue and how do we see color?

What is blue and how do we see color?
Paulo Philippidis / flickr This isn't another story about that dress, or at least, not really. It's about the way that humans see the world and how until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a color, we may not even notice that it's there. Until relatively recently in human history, "blue" didn't exist, not in the way we think of it. As the delightful Radiolab episode "Colors" describes, ancient languages didn't have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there is evidence that they may not have seen it at all. How we realized blue was missing In "The Odyssey," Homer famously describes the "wine-dark sea." In 1858 a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the prime minister of Great Britain, noticed that this wasn't the only strange color description. So Gladstone decided to count the color references in the book. Russell Mondy/FlickrIs the sky really blue? For most of us, that's harder.

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Are we all born with synaesthesia? – Shruti Ravindran Vladimir Nabokov once called his famed fictional creation Lolita ‘a little ghost in natural colours’. The natural colours he used to paint his ‘little ghost’ were especially vivid in part because of a neurological quirk that generated internal flashes of colour whenever letters of the alphabet appeared within his mind. In his memoir Speak Memory (1951), he described a few of them: ‘b has the tone called burnt sienna by painters, m is a fold of pink flannel, and today I have at last perfectly matched v with “Rose Quartz” in Maerz and Paul’s Dictionary of Color’. The condition he had was synaesthesia, a neurological oddity that mixes up the senses, making those who possess it see as well as hear music, or taste the shapes they set their eyes upon. Synaesthetes such as Nabokov see letters and numbers wreathed in fixed, seemingly idiosyncratic colours.

What a difference a word can make People spend a good deal of time talking to one another, and in general we do it pretty well. We might feel excited, angry, embarrassed, or — if we’re lucky — loved, in the course of our daily conversations. So is there any benefit to thinking about a science of talk? Can we really gain anything from scientific analysis of something we “just do”? I believe we can, and I’ve spent the last 20 years studying real talk from real people talking to each other in real time. And while the linguist Noam Chomsky once described conversation as a “disorderly phenomenon,” I can tell you that it’s no such thing.

These X's Are The Same Shade, So What Does That Say About Color? This is a re-creation of a color plate from Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers. The two X's are are exactly the same — it's the different backgrounds that make them look like very different colors. Source: Josef Albers Interaction of Color hide caption itoggle caption Source: Josef Albers Interaction of Color This is a re-creation of a color plate from Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers. The two X's are are exactly the same — it's the different backgrounds that make them look like very different colors.

The Hidden Connection Between Morality and Language Tragedy can strike us any time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it. When Frank’s dog was struck and killed by a car in front of his house, he grew curious what Fido might taste like. So he cooked him up and ate him for dinner. It was a harmless decision, but, nonetheless, some people would consider it immoral. Or take incest. A brother, who’s using a condom, and his sister, who’s on birth control, decide to have sex.

A Work In Progress » Analogous Color in Art History There are about 10 common color harmonies that show up in art history over and over again. (There are other ways to combine color, but these ten show up a lot.) Two previous posts covered the Primary Triad Harmony. Today we’ll look at Analogous Color. Thinking alike changes how we speak : NewsCenter As social creatures, we tend to mimic each other’s posture, laughter, and other behaviors, including how we speak. Now a new study shows that people with similar views tend to more closely mirror, or align, each other’s speech patterns. In addition, people who are better at compromising align more closely. Teaching sex education misses the point unless you teach boys not to be sexist "'Slutty, slaggy' girls need David Cameron to sort sex education. Fast." Thus reads the Telegraph’s headline to a serious piece by Green party MP Caroline Lucas, calling for education on sex and relationships to be made compulsory in schools. You could be forgiven for thinking that the problem is that girls really are "sluts" and "slags", in need of a good talking-to from Dave. It’s actually nothing of the sort.

Basic color schemes: Color Theory Introduction With colors you can set a mood, attract attention, or make a statement. You can use color to energize, or to cool down. By selecting the right color scheme, you can create an ambiance of elegance, warmth or tranquility, or you can convey an image of playful youthfulness. The language of lying - Noah Zandan Detection deception experts such as Pamela Meyer, in her popular book Liespotting argue that there are behavior cues everyday people can use to spot lying. Hear Pam discuss her book and ideas at this NPR link on the TED Radio Hour and listen to: Can You Spot A Liar? Scroll down at this site and check out the related story links. Click here and see some of the common clues that a lying person might give away that would allow you to detect that they are deceiving you. But a host of reputable scientists, like John Fuerdy of the University of Toronto, question the efficacy of lie detectors: "Studies have long shown that polygraphs are remarkably unreliable, particularly for screening job applicants. As early as 1965, a congressional committee concluded that there was no evidence to support the polygraph's validity; a 1997 survey in the Journal of Applied Psychology put the test's accuracy rate at only 61 percent.

Nerdy Feminist: She's Someone vs. Narcissistic Fatherhood [Content note: dehumanization of women, misogynistic slurs, slut shaming, verbal abuse, fat shaming. Just a whole lot of triggers, really.] Often in discussions of sexism, well intentioned (but misguided) people will resort to the whole, "How would you feel if this were your daughter they were talking about?" or "These women are someone's mother, sister, and daughter. Think about it that way" narrative. As has been articulated many times, this train of thought--while perhaps a step in the right direction from flat out woman hating--is far from perfect. Developing An Eye For Color : The Maine text by Jessica Stammen transparency studies by Jackson Day, Lizzie Ogle, Harper Gordon and Brynn Kooyenga For the past few winters, during the weeks that are made of the dark cold days between holiday festivities and mud, I have been lucky enough to join a dozen or so eighth graders at the local middle school for a special class exploring color. “It is obvious that in working with color paper there is no way of mixing the colors mechanically, as paint and pigment permit, and as they invite one to do on a palette or in a container. Though this may first appear as a handicap, it is actually a challenge to study color mixture in our imagination, that is, so to say, with closed eyes.

How 'Concept Creep' Made Americans So Sensitive to Harm A mother leaves her son in the car while popping into a store at a strip mall. She is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A high school senior complains to her Facebook friends about a teacher and is suspended for “cyberbullying.” Students at Wellesley start a petition calling for the removal of a statue of a man in his underwear, claiming that the art piece caused them emotional trauma. So many residents of Santa Monica, California, claim to need emotional support animals that the local farmer’s market warns against service dog fraud. How did American culture arrive at these moments?