General Question

SeahorseisYay's avatar

Is there still color when it's completely 100% dark?

Asked by SeahorseisYay (50points) September 6th, 2010

At first thought, I would think everything still has a color, but if you take the scientific point of view, color is really a color because of light reflecting off your eyes. Another thing, I’ve read that bees can see 7 colors that people can’t. How can the scientists know that for sure if they can’t see the colors in the first place?

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11 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Things have certain properties which cause light to reflect in such a way to give them a definable color.

However, without the addition of light, the color does not, by definition, exist, though the properties that affect the color remain.

iamthemob's avatar

Scientifically, color is what we perceive it to be – and therefore we do need light for there to be color. This link goes over it a bit. It also mentions quantum mechanics which requires our perception of things for them to exist as the do – therefore, when we’re not observing them, they are different than when we are. Both would require light in order for our perception of color, and for color of a particular thing to exist.

As to bees, that’s wicked cool – I didn’t know. But our perception is limited to what we call visible light, which is just how we convert certain bandwiths of radiation into a meaningful concept. Above the visible spectrum is ultraviolet, and below that is infrared. So if bees’ eyes are designed in such a way that those bandwiths are visible to them (just as we have machines that can convert them into colors that are perceivable to us) then they would exist as different “colors” that we can’t see. It’s much the same as hearing tones of a different frequency – dogs can hear tones above what we can, and we still call them tones but they’re not convertible in a way we can understand given our ear structure. We know that these forms of radiation and these sound frequencies exist, however, because we have developed auxiliary tools to allow us to perceive them in ways we can understand.

Of course, philosophy will have a whole bunch of different answers, based on how the particular school of thought considers whether there is an essence of the thing or concept outside of perception, or an ideal of it outside of what we see every day.

simone54's avatar

If a tree falls in the forest…..

LostInParadise's avatar

Sure there is color. Everything is black.

As for the bees, we can measure light wavelengths and we can, for example, test whether bees can be trained to associate a wavelength with a sugar water reward.

Cdog95's avatar

I don’t think so, but that’s just my opinion.

Fyrius's avatar

A colour is a particular wavelength of light. 100% dark = no light = no colours.

As for invisible colours, they can be measured with tools, like infrared goggles.

SundayKittens's avatar

I just answered this question in my class! Explaining the relationship between color and hue is tough to drive into the teenage brain. My answer is basically what @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard and @Fyrius said.

To keep it simple, there’s no concept of color without light.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Regarding the bees (and some species of birds that have four primary colours), as far as I am aware it is an inference from the structure of their eyes. As humans, we have three different types of colour receptors in our eyes, which give us the idea of three primary colours. Other animals have different numbers, so if there are none then the animal has greyscale vision, and if there are four the the animal renders light into four different primary colours.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Bees can see in UV range as do Jumping spiders. Humans see in a relatively narrow band in the electromagnetic spectrum 380nm to 780nm. There are detectors that can measure outside of these bands or shift them to visible. I regularly use 254, 302 and 356 nm UV in my work. I can’t see it, but it’s there. I can measure it.
Heat seeking predators like mosquitoes and snakes can see in the infrared range.

chocolatechip's avatar


…it makes a sound.

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