Does this look white to you? | Summary and Q&A

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October 6, 2015
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Physics Girl
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Does this look white to you?

TL;DR

Your eyes and brain can be tricked into perceiving colors that aren't actually there due to how light and cones in your eyes work together.

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Key Insights

  • 🙂 Our perception of color is influenced by both the light entering our eyes and how our cones respond to that light.
  • 🙂 Mixing primary colors in paint results in brown, but mixing them in light can create other colors.
  • 🙂 Complementary colors on a light color wheel can create white light when combined.
  • 🧠 Our brain can be easily tricked into perceiving colors that aren't actually present due to the way our eyes and brain process visual information.

Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] I want you to stare, really focus on the circle at the center of this group of dots and don't move your eyes. Do you see it? If you're not color blind, it's likely you're seeing a blue dot moving around the circle. Try looking at the blue dot and you'll find it's not there. Why would your brain tell you something's there when it's... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why does our brain perceive a blue dot moving around the circle when there really isn't one?

This is due to how our eyes and brain perceive light and color. The combination of light and the response from our cones in an optical illusion can create the perception of a moving blue dot.

Q: How does mixing red and green light create yellow?

Mixing red and green light stimulates the red and green cones in our eyes. Our brain interprets this combination of cone responses as yellow, even though there is no yellow light present.

Q: Why does mixing complementary colors on a light color wheel create white light?

When complementary colors are mixed in light, the cones in our eyes that respond to those colors simulate the response of white light. This is because our brain interprets the combination of cone responses as white.

Q: Why does staring at yellow light make our brain perceive blue when we switch to a white screen?

Staring at yellow light dulls the response of our red and green cones. When we switch to a white screen, the blue cone, which was not dulled, sends a stronger signal to our brain, leading us to perceive blue light that isn't actually there.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Your brain can be tricked into seeing colors that aren't there, as demonstrated by the blue dot moving around the circle illusion.

  • Mixing primary colors in paint results in brown, but mixing light in the right proportions can create other colors, like yellow.

  • Complementary colors on a light color wheel can create white light when mixed together.

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