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    What Color Really Evolved For

    The finding that melanosomes are so common inside animals’ bodies may overhaul our very understanding of the function of melanin, the pigment responsible for color in feathers and other external features.Photograph by Aline Dassel / Pixabay What color were the dinosaurs? If you have a picture in your head, fresh studies suggest you may need […]

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    The Reality of Color Is Perception

    An argument for a new definition of color.

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    Why the Dark Side of the Force Had to Be Dark

    You don’t have to look very hard to see that our culture has some pretty powerful associations between colors and feelings. As a recent example, the new Pixar film Inside Out has characters representing emotions, and the color choices for these characters—red for anger, and blue for sadness—feel right. Red, specifically, is one of the […]

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    A Material So Dark That It Looks Like a Black Hole

    Even when applied to a highly reflective surface like aluminum foil, Vantablack renders the entire surface, including creases, all but invisible.Surrey Nanosystems via Wikipedia Color is such a powerful and evocative sensation—one of the first that we learn to describe as children—that we don’t often think about what it really is. In a sense, color […]

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    The Quest to Understand—and Mimic—Nature’s Trickiest Colors

    The West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)AlessandroZocc via Shutterstock It was an image in a book of a sparkly blue fish—a West Indian Ocean coelacanth—that inspired German painter Franziska Schenk to begin a project that would occupy much of her adult life. “It was mysterious and beautiful,” she says, “and as a child I had […]

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    How a Rubber Hand Can Help Fight Racial Bias

    maxstockphoto via Shutterstock I am a light-skinned woman, I grew up in the Southern United States, and I harbor negative stereotypes about dark-skinned people. I dislike this about myself. I would like to pretend that this is not true, but I have proof. About 15 years ago I found myself making a stop for gas […]

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    Organized Chaos Makes the Beauty of a Butterfly

    Take a look at a butterfly’s wing, and you can learn a lesson about life. Not that it’s beautiful, or fragile, or too easily appreciated only when it’s fading—though all that is true, and evident in a wing. Look very close, at the edge of a pattern, where one color turns to another. The demarcation […]