Is it humanly possible to invent a new color? Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Mark Fairchild says "yes"! In fact, he suggests that all observant people invent new colors at various times of their lives.
Dr. Fairchild explains: "As a color scientist, I think of colors as perceptions, that is things that we see. Of course those perceptions are not just caused by our brain (except when we are dreaming); they are caused by how our eyes and brain respond to the world around us. For color it is the light and objects that we are responding to. Most people would take this question to mean 'has anyone invented a light or object of a new color?' Personally, I have not, but I have invented new ways to understand and describe how we perceive and produce colors in places like the movies. Other people certainly have invented new materials that produce colors that people couldn't make before. Things like new paints, new inks, new kinds of televisions. That has happened often through the history of science. But, if we come back to color being a perception, then it is even easier to say that we invent new colors. I think we all do it quite often if we pay attention to the world around us. Have you ever had a time when you looked at something and it seemed like a totally new experience? Maybe a special rainbow, or a peculiar bird, or a strange way the light bounces around your room? If you have noticed a new experience like that, then I think you could say you have invented a new color. That is because color is truly a perception that is unique to you and any new color experiences could be considered 'inventions.' I like to just think of them as interesting parts of our world that make it fun to study science; in my case color science."
You can explore Dr. Fairchild's research on color perception and imaging at his website.
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About the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow