Posts from the ‘color’ Category


This isn’t false color! Just a pink spitfire… No big thing. This is how they rolled… Or flew… Or whatever.


The Spitfire is a much loved plane, even today. Built in the late 1930s, it has the look of a classic airplane, with an oblong, slightly rounded body, wings that look like a huge oval strapped to the plane, and a ‘blister’ of glass over the cockpit. World War II marked a time of great innovation, which was sometimes practical and sometimes loony. Those two kinds of innovation came together when great military minds decided that to keep an airplane from being spotted, they needed to paint it pink.

The pink, slightly too washed-out to be an actual baby pink, still seems bright enough to signal every enemy within five miles. This is certainly true when the Spitfires were seen from above. They stand out brightly against the ground. To make sure they were rarely seen from above, these planes were painted to fly just under cloud cover. Although the planes were ideally meant to fly at sunset and sunrise, when the clouds took on a pinkish hue and made the plane completely invisible against them, they were also useful during the day. Clouds are pinker than we give them credit for. 

One of the troubles with the Spitfire was the fact that the pilot felt garish and exposed. Having to keep an eye on the sky above to check for enemy aircraft, fly with cloud cover, and frequently fly at dawn or at sunset, these Spitfires were real challenges to their pilots. However, as early spy planes they allowed the Allies to collect much-needed data, while flying close to the ground. And of course, in the evenings, when the sky was pink with the sunset, they were far more invisible than a white plane shining against a pastel cloud.

Everything I know about WWII planes comes from the Jane’s WWII Fighters game. When the joystick was hooked up for it, the Red Baron had nothing on me.

The spitfires were not pink though, learn something new everyday!


Neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of the excellent Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explains the curious neurological wire-crossing of synesthesia. Complement with a synesthetic person’s first-hand account of the experience.

It seems today’s Tumblr theme is synesthesia. No complaints!

On a late winter day in 1922, the sound of a gun shot resounded with a loud boom in the hills surrounding the house of three-year-old Edgar Curtis. The sound itself wasn’t out of the ordinary, since the Curtises lived near a firing range. What was extraordinary was the question the boy turned to ask his mother: “What is that big, black noise?”  A few days later, when his mother was putting him to bed, Edgar heard the chirping of a shrill cricket and demanded, “What is that little white noise?” For Edgar, low, rhythmic notes were dark in color. High-pitched sounds were pale, and, researchers later discovered, tones in between were variously red, blue, and purple. A rainbow was “a song.”  Edgar Curtis’ story is an early example in the scientific literature of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which one or more sensory modalities are linked. “There are many different forms,”  says David Eagleman, a neuroscientist known for his ability to garner important insights into the nature of perception and consciousness through idiosyncratic methods. “Essentially, any cross-blending of the senses that you can think of, my colleagues and I have found a case somewhere.” 
Synesthesia seems like an awesome thing to have. Not sure if living in a city would be beautiful or a bad acid trip. Anybody have synesthesia (of any type)? What’s it like?

The Wonderful World of Synesthesia

Some pure titanium, and the TiO2 (“titanium rust”) is such a nice color. Also if you kinda squint it looks like a T-Rex is formed by the blue.


A cyrstallized solution of sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfate, and D76, a photochemical made by Kodak.

Image by Loes Modderman, Science Art.

A trippy chunk of malachite. Just look at those whorls!

The idea of tetrachromatism has been around for a while, but it has been hard to prove until recently. Due to mutations that cause color-blindness, the daughters of color-blind men have the possibility of having 4 cones to our normal 3. The result is that they see many, many more shades of color than we do. 

The Search for Tetrachromats: The human masters of the color world

A salt evaporation pond outside of Dakar, Senegal. Bacteria in high-salinity ponds cause them to appear in various shades of red!