The Color Pink Doesn't Exist, According To Science
Pink is real...or is it? (flickr.com)
Next time you are at a gender reveal party or walking down the Barbie aisle at the toy store or buying Pepto Bismol, ask yourself if you are really seeing all the pink you think you are seeing. Huh? Let’s explain. There is a scientific theory that the color pink does not exist and that it is, in fact, a scientific impossibility. Here’s why.
Color Is Light
The colors that we see are simply different wave lengths of light that reflect off an object. Our eye perceives that wavelength as a color in the spectrum. You may remember from middle school science class that light is comprised of different wavelengths and that the human eye can only see a portion of it. We call that visible light. A spectrum can break that visible light into the various colors of the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We used the mnemonic memory device, ROYGBIV, to remember these colors and the order in which they appear.
Where is Pink?
Take another look at ROYGBIV. There is no P. Where is the pink on the spectrum? It is not there because, theoretically, it doesn’t exist. Various shades of a color are created because the light waves from one color blend with the light waves from an adjacent color. Teal, for example, it a blend of green and its neighbor, blue. But, this doesn’t explain how we see pink.
Pink Shouldn’t Exist
Pink is the blend of red and violet. The problem is, red and violet are not next to each other on the color spectrum. In fact, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It is scientifically impossible for red and violet to merge together to create the color pink. And, yet we have the color pink.
All the Light We Cannot See
If you were to take the linear color spectrum and roll it up into a circle, we can force red and violet to meet. This is not, however, accurate. The red side of the spectrum should not meet with the violet side because of all the light we cannot see. These include ultraviolet, infrared, gamma rays, radio waves, and x-rays. Since the human eye cannot see these light waves, our eyes are tricked into filling in the gap with the color pink.
We See Colors With Our Brains
This trick of pink is not unusual. In fact, since color is just a bunch of reflected light, it doesn’t really exist. Our brains perceive color from the data that our eyes collect, and that data is just a bunch of light. Our brains decode this information and color in the pictures for us. As a noted biologist, Timothy H. Goldsmith explained, “color is not actually a property of light or of objects that reflect it. It is a sensation that arises within the brain.” It could be that each person “sees” colors differently, but our brains label the colors with the names we have been told they are. Sound confusing? Think of it this way: imagine two people looking at a blue car. One person’s brain may perceive it as blue, so he declares that the car is blue. The other person my perceive the car as yellow, but he has always been taught that the name for the color he sees is blue, so he also declares the car to be blue. This is exactly how that whole “What color is this dress?” debate blew up on social media a few years ago.
Pink Is Not Green
We know that white light is a combination of all the light waves in the visible spectrum. Pink is the effect that you get if you remove all the green light from the white light. White light minus green gives us pink.
Pink may be a scientific anomaly, but it is still deeply rooted in our culture. If it weren’t for the color pink, where would Victoria Secret, Piglet, Bubblicious bubble gum, cotton candy, and Alecia Moore (the singer you know as P!NK) be? Pink may be a scientific impossibility, but we are still tickled pink to have this color party crash the color spectrum.
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