True Colours

Last night the setting sun was a perfect circle of DayGlo pink that slowly faded to a hue of orange, which if you didn’t know better, you would swear was not a colour found in nature. But are there really colours not found in nature? Surely the internet can illuminate the subject.

Apparently as recently as 2012, the scientific debate continued to rage about the existence of pink. This will no doubt strike fear into the hearts (and outfits) of proto-princesses. But there is some method to this madness. It seems that pink is derived from a melding of red and violet. And why is that such a big deal you might ask? Because, as any student of the rainbow (which is evidently the ultimate colour authority) knows, violet is on the exact opposite end of light spectrum from red. That means there is no possible combination of natural wavelengths that will produce pink. In nature that is. The saving grace is that we can do whatever we want with respect to combining invisible colour swatches, a fact that petunias everywhere are eternally thankful.

Next they’ll be telling us that black doesn’t exist. What’s that? They already did? Now all of science will be in deep trouble with everyone in New York. The story about black, if you believe the colour purists, is that anything in ‘nature’ that appears to be black (even you, Mr. Panther) is really very dark brown. I was horrified to learn that even ‘black’ ink is really a very dark grey. In fact, when printing ‘black’ ink, the pretend black is over-printed on top of some kind of secret concoction of cyan, magenta and yellow to make sure that our eye stays fooled.

Blue food does not occur in nature. There are no leafy blue vegetables. And blueberries are not blue, they are purple. That’s why we don’t have an automatic appetite response to blue and probably also explains my aversion to Smurfs. Also, according to the internet so it must be true, when our earliest ancestors were foraging for food millions of years ago, potential food that was blue, purple or black was considered a warning sign of something poisonous.

Delving further into the literature on the subject, like all scientific inquiry it is important to clarify the definition of the matter at hand. As in, what exactly do we mean by nature? For example, if you include the whole of the universe and can accept the existence of the smallest speck of a colour for the briefest period of time then there may be very few that do not exist. On the other hand, the contrarian view is that nothing in nature has any colour at all. That’s because colour exists only in our eye’s ability to interpret the electromagnetic energy emitted by the molecules in the item in question.

But all of this is making my brain hurt. I think I need a glass of pink lemonade.

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