Science of Colour
The Science Of Colour
“If the sun’s light consisted of but one sort of rays, there would be but one colour in the whole world” – Sir Isaac Newton
Humans perceive 90% of information through their eyes. Therefore, the eyes play an important role in life, brain development, and mental well-being.
However, there is more to it. Only humans and a few primates have a full-colour vision. Most other mammals can see only two colours, making their vision almost like a black-and-white image. However, some other living beings have a different vision and can see ultraviolet rays or sense infrared light.
Nonetheless, when it comes to colour perception, human eyes are the most sensitive among all living beings. Keeping in mind that humans are also the most intelligent, emotional, and social beings, it is not difficult to understand that colours play a role in every aspect of life.
At FT.RAINBOW, we are all about championing colour to inspire individuality, to promote entrepreneurship and to stand out in a way that is personal to you. Let’s delve a bit further into the power of colour and how it can influence us all.
Colour theory, mood, well-being, and human biology
Sir Isaac Newton was the first to develop a colour diagram and understand the relations between various colours. He was also perhaps the first to realize that white light contains all the rainbow colours.
Over the years, humans started scientifically exploring colours. As a result, they started realizing how colours affect human mood and health. Of course, humans have long known that colours influence mood, and even ancient people used colours, but things changed from the industrial age onwards when people started exploring colours scientifically.
For example, now people know that colours like black or white are neutral colours, and hues of red, like pink, and orange, are warm colours, and thus they can make one feel excited. However, on the other hand, cold colours like green and blues can help to relax.
One can even see how nature cleverly uses this understanding of colours. For example, it uses warm colours like red or orange sparingly to attract pollinators or for other reasons. On the other hand, cold colours like green and blue are abundant in nature.
The human brain has also evolved in such a way that it gets excited by warm colours like red and orange. Thus, these colours are good for increasing energy levels, excitement, and more.
On the other hand, colours like green and blue and their various hues relax the human mind and body.
Therefore, humans can cleverly mix neutral colours, like black and white, with warm and cold colours to influence mood. For example, people who are hyperexcited may be calmed by cool colours.
There are many ways to mix colours. For example, one way is to use analogous colours, that is, colours that are found beside each other in a colour wheel, like various hues of blues.
Another approach is to use complementary or opposite colours in different combinations—for example, green and red. Which colour should dominate would depend on the aim of the artwork.
FT.RAINBOW socks are made to be able to explore unique solid colour and colour combinations to be able to find your own ‘hue’.
Colours and wellness
We have already stated that colours may influence the development of the human brain.
However, one may also use colours to possibly influence health.
Colours are electromagnetic waves with different frequencies. Thus, for example, blue colours have a much higher frequency than red colours.
For ages, philosophers and traditional healers have used colours to attempt to treat physical and mental ailments.
Colours are thought to be especially good for managing emotional disorders, reducing stress, and improving sleep quality. There is some limited evidence that it may very well work. Most people can associate specific emotional responses with different colours.
However, researchers are also exploring the use of colour therapy for managing other stress and inflammation-related ailments. For example, they are exploring the use of colour therapy for lowering blood pressure and managing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic ailments.
Certain colours may help reduce pain sensation. Thus, colours may be used to manage chronic pain conditions that are often associated with various emotional responses.
Colours also play an important role in culture. For example, humans have traditionally associated specific colours with certain emotions1;
- Red is viewed as the colour of life, blood, and physical energy – it symbolizes passion, aggression, and impulsion.
- Yellow is viewed as the colour of happiness – it also denotes sunshine and warmth and is an erotic colour in some cultures.
- Blue is viewed as the colour of peace – it also denotes calmness, peace, conservative, and authority.
- Green is viewed as the colour of jealousy – at the same time, it is the colour of nature and plants.
How humans perceive colours
Before we further explore the history of colours and what research is occuring, and where researchers are planning to use colour therapy, it is vital to understand how humans see colours and how these colours are perceived.
Colour vision is quite complex. It all starts with the eyes, which are more like a 576-megapixel camera2.
First, the light is reflected by various objects, which alters its frequency, thus forming the colours. Then this light enters the human eyes via the eye lens. The eye lens focuses the coloured light on the retina. The human retina is more like a sensor in the digital camera.
The human retina has rods and cones. Rods are mainly responsible for the formation of black-and-white vision and work well in low-light conditions. Cones, on the other hand, are used for the identification of colours. In the human eye, there are three different kinds of cones, L, M, and S cones, and the lights of different wavelengths stimulate them, that is, long- medium- and short wavelength3.
Thus, for example, red light, which is a longer wavelength than blue colour, is more likely to stimulate L cones, and blue light is more likely to stimulate S cones. Thus, different hues stimulate these three cones to different degrees, forming unique signals.
Together these three cones form a single pixel in the human eye. However, since there are millions of cones together, they form a coloured image greater than 500 megapixels.
Here it is worth noting that in the eyes, only cones are stimulated differently by lights of various wavelengths. And then, these electric signals are taken to the brain through one of the thickest and shortest of all cranial nerves, that is optical nerve. Hence, the final interpretation of colours occurs in the brain.
Since eyes send massive amounts of signals, a significant amount of the human brain is dedicated to interpreting the light signal. Light signals and colours are interpreted in the visual cortex located in the posterior region of the brain.
Once the light has been interpreted and the image formed in the brain, this information is shared with other brain parts for further processing, like movement, emotional responses, and more.
History of colour
Colours have puzzled humans for thousands of years. Then, almost 2000 years back, Greek philosophers started demystifying colours through their philosophical approaches. Aristotle was the first person to write and discuss colour theory in detail. He believed that it is something sent by god through celestial rays4.
Despite so much interest in colours in various periods of history, colours remained a mystery for humans. However, in the 1660s, Sir Isaac Newton could finally explain colours. He did many experiments using a prism and understood that white light was made of seven colours. Furthermore, he understood that lights of different colours have different wavelengths. His findings transformed the scientific understanding of colours and laid the foundation for further studies regarding the nature of colour.
The future of colour
Colours may be used to improve the mental well-being of older adults. In one study, Korean researchers proposed that one way to improve the mental well-being of older adults could be cleverly selecting the colour scheme of their environment or dwelling. As a result, they developed a special program that may help select specific colour schemes to improve the mental health of older adults5.
Of course, colours are not just for health. They can be used to influence the mental and emotional intelligence of people. Thus, researchers think that colours can be used to boost specific mental abilities of professionals. In one of the studies, researchers studied how various colours affect emotional intelligence and self-efficiency in working adults. They think that by developing a better understanding of these factors, they can produce better products6.
One excellent way to apply colour or chromo therapy is using VR headsets. They allow the use of different colours, and the experience may be pretty amazing and even spiritual. Moreover, virtual environments provide the kind of freedom not available in the real world at a much lower cost. It means that producing specific kinds of virtual environments and using colours cleverly may help reduce stress and even treat stress-related ailments.
Similarly, researchers are exploring using chromo therapy for managing job-related stress. Such a therapy may be especially useful for people who are continually exposed to high-stress levels at the job. An example of such a job is intensive care unit nurses. Thus, one of the studies found that using canvas frames pained in colours like yellow, red, and blue can help. In the study, they showed these canvases to 500 nurses 20 times a day for 10 days, and at the end of the experiment, they found that it helped reduce mental stress6.
Of course, a few things are not yet understood by science. Some researchers believe that there is something mystical about the colours. They think that people must know their lucky colours. For example, in one of the studies, researchers found that couples who used their lucky colour in marriage were more likely to be happy7.
We see colours all the time, and they play an important role in our life, providing information, brain development, and physical and mental well-being. However, since we experience various colours all the time, we are also less likely to notice how they may influence our minds and emotions.
Using colours to enhance our life could be the simplest thing we can do. They can help enrich our lives. Choosing colours cleverly may help reduce stress, and even energize or hopefully inspire us all. A day without colour is a duller day indeed!
FT.RAINBOW is a new dynamic sock company with the mantra - Come From Nowhere - Colours From Anywhere.
It’s mission is to inspire anyone to come from nowhere and put their mark on the world.
The embodiment of this mission is represented in their original crew and quarter crew socks that come in a range of special colours: Make your mint green, Ooh la la orange, Damn proud pink, Squint at the sunset purple, Inside a panna cotta beige, Why helo yelo, 50’s car blue, Take me to Santorini blue, Werk wear blue, Loch ness green. FT.RAINBOW wants to push the boundaries of colour and promote inclusion wherever and however it can.
- Fussell G. The Meaning of Colors in Cultures Around the World. The Shutterstock Blog. Published September 14, 2022. Accessed October 31, 2022. https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/color-symbolism-and-meanings-around-the-world
- How Many Megapixels Is the Human Eye? Discovery. Accessed October 31, 2022. https://www.discovery.com/science/mexapixels-in-human-eye
- How Do We See Color? Frontiers for Young Minds. Accessed October 31, 2022. https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2013.00010
- Ierodiakonou K. Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias on Colour. In: Bydén B, Radovic F, eds. The Parva Naturalia in Greek, Arabic and Latin Aristotelianism: Supplementing the Science of the Soul. Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind. Springer International Publishing; 2018:77-90. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26904-7_4
- Lee EJ, Park SJ. A Palette of Color Combination Based on Color Therapy for the Elderly. Journal of the Korean housing association. 2017;28(1):55-62. doi:10.6107/JKHA.2017.28.1.055
- Kang MA. Effects of Color Therapy using Color Frames on Nurses’ Job Stress and Depression. Journal of Internet of Things and Convergence. 2021;7(4):51-58. doi:10.20465/KIOTS.2021.7.4.051
- Kumaar SS. A critical analysis of chromotherapy (color therapy) and its impact on married life. Int J Jyotish Res. 2022;7(1):08-12. doi:10.22271/24564427.2022.v7.i1a.125
Important Warning about information published on or accessible via this online site
The information in this publication (“FT.RAINBOW information”) is made available by FT.RAINBOW “as is” without any representation, warranty, condition or any other assurance of any kind. FT.RAINBOW information is made available on the condition that those accessing it (users) are solely responsible for the preparation, content, accuracy and review of any output (including data) prepared or resulting from access to FT.RAINBOW information and for any decisions made or actions taken based on such output. FT.RAINBOW is not providing science-related or any other advice. Users’ decisions made in reliance on FT.RAINBOW information are their own, alone, for which they have full responsibility. FT.RAINBOW does not accept responsibility for the consequences of any reliance on FT.RAINBOW information. Further, the contents of this summary article and any attachments, annexes or schedules hereto is preliminary, limited and subject to completion correction or amendment.