Physics of Color Vision and Color Blindness Essay

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What is Color? To understand what color is, we first need to understand what light is. Light, as perceived by humans, is simply electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between roughly 380 nm and 740 nm. Wavelengths below 380 nm and above 740 nm cannot be seem by the human eye. Electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength just below 380 nm is known as ultraviolet radiation. Electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength just above 740 nm is known as infrared radiation. The sun, black lights and fluorescent lamps are all sources of ultraviolet light. Heat is a source of infrared radiation, which is how thermal vision works. Electromagnetic radiation between the wavelengths of 380 nm and 740 nm constitute light and the human color-vision…show more content…
Based on our current knowledge, there is no observable physical explanation (in our brains or elsewhere) as to how a 650 nm ray of light becomes "red". As it stands, there's no proof that one day you couldn't wake up with your visible-color spectrum flipped. For more information on the debate between physics and psychological interpretation of sensory experiences, search for the term "qualia". Now back to the physics (this is a physics webpage after all)... The point is, color is a purely subjective experience that would not exist without eyes to see it. We can only understand color based on how we see color, even though other animals can see it differently. The human eye contains both rod cells and cone cells to interpret light. Rod cells interpret lower levels of light than cone cells; they also do not see color. In light environments, cone cells become activated and replace the rod cells as the primary source of visual information. Cone cells are the photoreceptors used to discriminate color. The human eye contains three different types of cone cells which interpret their own ranges of electromagnetic wavelengths. These three cone cells are often oversimplified as the "blue, green and red" cone cells when, in fact, they each cover a range of colors. Each cone cell's sensitivity to light is distributed as a bell curve over a range of wavelengths. The three cone cells

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