Color & Science

Please use the "Color & Science" pull down menu at the top of this page or link to the articles below.

Rainbow - Color Science Red Green Blue

Electromagnetic Color
Some facts from physics:
Wavelengths of color

Color Systems - RGB & CMYK
The scientific RGB color model
Additive & subtractive colors

Plant - Science Experiment Pit Viper snake

Science Projects
Does color affect taste?
How does the color of water affect its evaporation rate?

New Frontiers for Color
Non-spectral colors
(Colors that are not in the rainbow)

Black and white Houses

Are Black & White Colors?
Three color theories that provide answers to this FAQ

Color and energy matters
How color can reduce energy consumption?


Explore some powerful research about color!

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encyclopedia of color

New Frontiers for Color



Beyond the Rainbow

Infrared and magenta exist beyond the visible rainbow of colors. In this article, a scientist explains how they might be the key to a new generation of x-rays and much more.

First, some introductory information about Infrared and non-spectral colors. (Non-spectral colors are the colors that are not in the visible rainbow)

Everyone has felt the heat from an oven - or even the heat of another human body. Is someone feeling sick? Put your hand on their forehead to see if they're really heating up and running a temperature. That heat is a measurable form of radiation known as infrared. You may also be familiar with infrared photography that creates a picture based on the heat emitted by a tree or any object.

Infra-red is a non-visible "color" that exists outside of the visible colors of the electro-magnetic spectrum. We can feel it , but most of us can't see it. (See infrared on the chart at Color Matters.)

In WWII certain men with extended red-infrared vision were able to discern living green, vegetation from camouflage because photosynthesis is emissive in near infrared.

Furthermore, there is reason to believe cave men had better night vision than we now use and could "see" multi-color infrared as viper snakes do (perhaps because our forehead and tongue have the same sensitivity as pit viper snakes.)


A good example of a non-spectral color is magenta. Look at a rainbow. Do you see it?

Note: Be sure to see ElecroMagnetic Color at this web site. It explains the basic theory behind the science of color.

Tap the power of color

New Frontiers for Color: Non-spectral Colors

We are six billion people immersed in a color soaked world. One of these people is a color scientist, John J. Stapleton, Pte., who is unweaving the rainbow and presenting new theories about the "how and why" of color and color vision. Furthermore, he has applied these theories to machines that may save lives: a medical x-ray machine to detect breast cancer and a baggage x-ray system that can detect explosives and other harmful substances.

As a departure point, turn the clock back to the 1600's when Sir Isaac Newton passed a thin beam of sunlight through a glass prism. On the opposite wall were the colors red, yellow, green, blue, violet. Newton also investigated the nature of colors. He theorized that colors were "visual vibrations" like notes of music.

In recent years, Dr. Jeremy Nathans of Johns Hopkins has added new information to Newton's sound vibration theory of color and Professor Stapleton has continued to develop these theories. The scientific formula that underlies his work is:
The new dimension, is the depth of hue.

Here's how this theory can be applied today.

  1. The detection of breast cancer
  2. The detection of explosives
  3. Thermal vision for the detection of foes
  4. Thermal vision for the blind

1. Detection of breast cancer

Our hospitals and doctors still use the primitive (19th century) x-ray machine for the detection of breast cancer. Unfortunately, this method has a high percentage of false misses and false alarms. To understand this - and how it compares to Professor Stapleton's x-ray machine - here's how today's machines work:

An x-ray machine is essentially a camera. It uses x-rays, a high powered form of energy, as its basis. X-rays penetrate many materials to varying degrees. When the x-rays hit the film, they expose it just as light would. Since bone, fat, muscle, tumors and other masses all absorb x-rays at different levels, the image on the film lets you see different (distinct) structures inside the body because of the different levels of exposure on the film.

By comparison. Professor Stapleton's machine can be described as a "multi-color" x-ray machine. Its official name is "Omnispectravision" and it is based on the theory of light pressure =energy densities within depth of hue.

Here's how it works

  • The machine sends out multi-spectral lasers. In other words, it emits"non-spectral" colored light such as infrared that is invisible to the human eye. These light waves target an area in the patient's body (such as the breast)
  • The interaction with the different energy densities can be seen. Specifically, the energy density of cancerous cells generates different pressures of light that are sent back to the screen. What the doctor or x-ray technician sees is a picture of different colors, and specifically the colors (energy densities=pressures) of cancerous cells as compared to non-cancerous cells. These are the "true" physical colors representing the different energy density generated by the cells - not pseudo colors arbitrarily assigned to the areas, such as the color coding used in traditional x-ray machines today.

Consequently, this multi-colored laser process can reveal more information and more detailed information than the antiquated x-ray machines.

2. Baggage screening and the detection of explosives

Professor Stapleton is applying the same basic principles of multi-colored x-rays to baggage x-ray machines, known as "XHIS" (X-ray Hyperspectral Imaging Spectroscopy).

He explains that baggage x-ray systems have not improved significantly since we designed the image process 30 years ago. Since multi-colored x-rays can reveal more reliable information, we could vastly improve security and save lots of lives if we can enhance existing machines.

3. Thermal Vision -The detection of foes

pit viper snake Professor Stapleton points out that our forehead and tongue have a sensitivity similar to that of pit viper snakes. Pause for a moment and think about the last time you were really sick. Did you check your forehead to see if you were running a temperature? That "fever-heat" is a measurable form of radiation known as infrared.

Professor Stapleton raises the possibility that we might be able "see" the intent of a person around the forehead -"the outpost of the brain." Didn't Russians wear hats to cover their foreheads? Mind reader? Perhaps. It may very well be possible to detect an evil mind using thermal vision of active or passive imagers.

4. Color Vision Thermalization for the Blind

Professor Stapleton also points out another new color frontier- thermal color vision for the blind - may be in the future. As mentioned in the preceding "Thermal Vision" section, our tongues have the same sensitivity as pit viper snakes. "Color tastes" may very well be used for color vision thermalization for the blind or severely vision- impaired.

Recent studies report that by the sense of touch, Braille symbols cross over into visual pathways in the brain. Likewise video signals put on the tongue have recently been traced through the visual cortex. This may provide the key to vision thermalization of color for the vision deprived. In other words, it may be possible for thermal color information on the tongue to work in a similar way.

Professor Stapleon raises another question:
"Could genes be manipulated someday to provide more color perception in UV and IR?" He points out that The Washington Post, NY Times, and NJ Star Ledger reported gene therapy (viruses for vision) gave sight to blind dogs with a form of retinitis piementosa. The cooperation and collaboration evidently was widespread (UPENN, UFlorida, National Eye Institute, Foundation Fighting Blindness et al.) and effective to correct a specific genetic mutation in the "retinal pigment epithelial" gene that affects 150,000 Americans.

In summary, color science is serious business. It may very well be one of the greatest tools we have to detect harmful substances (and evil minds) as well as to create a new world of vision.

For more information, e-mail John J. Stapleton - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Color Psychology Experts

Color & Energy Matters

When summer comes to your Hemisphere, can color reduce the energy consumption in your home or business? Consider this: Would you be cooler wearing a light shirt or a dark shirt on a hot sunny day? If your science teacher or parents didn't convince you, the scientific fact is that white reflects the radiant energy rays of the sun and black absorbs them.

Color and Energy Matters for Exteriors

The same principle has a significant impact on a house. The hotter the roof, the hotter the rooms below. Light colored roofing and /or reflective coatings are like a white shirt for your house because they reflect radiant energy. Even a light grey hue is better than a blue or green.

Fact: Light colors and reflective coatings cut cooling costs.

House and Sun

On a 90 degrees F / 32.2 C clear sunny, day in Austin Texas, a white roof had a temperature of 110 degrees F / 43.3 C, an aluminum coated roof, 140 degrees F / 60 C, while a black, single ply roof, a temperature of almost 190 degrees F / 87.8 C (yes, one hundred and ninety degrees Fahrenheit, eighty seven plus degrees Celsius).

Note: Under ideal conditions, if the attic is well ventilated and its floor heavily insulated, heat absorbed by the roof may be exhausted. Unfortunately, most homes have less than ideal conditions.

 More Statistics

A study in Florida revealed that by increasing heat reflectivity, homeowners saved an average of 23% if their cooling costs.
A study by Lawrence Berkeley laboratory reveals that increasing the reflectivity of roofs and other surfaces in metropolitan areas could dramatically reduce energy costs nationwide.
Maximum savings for a nationwide project (U.S.A.) could be $10 billion in energy and equipment costs.
 For details of this report and more information on energy conservation, visit The Heat Island Group/The Energy Analysis Program


Color Matters for the Home and Office

Color and Energy Matters for Interiors


Five versions of the same interior

The colors used inside a residence or workplace can also save on energy costs. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that electric lighting accounts for 25% of the electricity used in the U.S.A.

The same principle, the lighter the color the higher the reflectivity can be applied. Dark walls absorb more light and reflect less. Consequently, far more lighting is required for rooms with dark walls than those with light walls. In addition to the walls, it is a good idea to keep the ceiling light and bright for good reflectance.

Most major paint manufacturers can tell you the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of any color paint chip. White reflects 80% of the light, black 5%. Therefore, the higher the LRV number of the paint color, the less artificial light you will need.

Caution: Don't go overboard. An extremely high lighting level combined with very light walls is bad if it creates glare and / or too much brightness on the wall. This causes excessive stimulation and irritation of the eyes. Eye fatigue will follow.

A tip for saving on heating and cooling costs: The color of a room will affect your perception of temperature. Tests document that people estimate the temperature of a room with cool colors, such as blues and greens, to be 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the actual temperature. Warm colors, such as reds and oranges, will result in a 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer estimate. The colors used in this test are Munsell Value 7-9 Chroma 1-4. (Information on the Universal Color Standards: Munsell System)

 Color does play an important role in energy conservation.

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ElectroMagnetic Color

Four thousand years ago, the Egyptians built healing temples of light. Bathing a patient in specific colors of light produced different effects. Today we know that a blindfolded person will experience physiological reactions under different colored rays. In other words, the skin sees in technicolor.

This fact was confirmed by the noted neuropsychologist, Kurt Goldstein. In his modern classic, The Organism, he notes that stimulation of the skin by different colors leads to different effects. He states, "it is probably not a false statement to say that a specific color stimulation is accompanied by a specific response pattern of the entire organism."

In order to understand this, we must begin with the fact that color is a form of visible light. It is electromagnetic energy. The graph below shows where color is positioned in the range of radiant energy.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

in meters
Name Uses
(size of a nucleus)
Gamma Rays Cancer Treatment
(size of an atom)
X-Rays Materials testing
Medical x-rays
10-8 Ultraviolet Germicidal, "black light", suntan
(diameter of a bacteria)
10-5   -   10-3 Infrared Human body radiation
(size of a mouse)
Microwave Microwave ovens, atomic clocks
10 0
(one meter, the size of a man)
Radar, Television, F.M. Radio, International Short-wave
10 3
(size of a village)
Radio frequency (RF) A.M. Radio
10 6
(distance from Washington D.C. to Chicago)
Audio frequency Long-wave broadcast
10 8
(distance to the moon)
Brain waves

Visible Color Spectrum

Note: Ultraviolet and infrared are are not visible colors.
They are given as a point of reference.

Color Wavelength mµ
(billionths of a meter)
Ultraviolet 380-280 The smaller the wavelength, the smaller the structures with which they interact and the more powerful the energy. Gamma rays (the size of a nucleus) are more powerful than A.M. radio waves (the size of a village) Violet at 400 mµ is stronger than red at 700 mµ.

mµ =nanometers

Violet 430-390
Indigo 450-440
Blue 480-460
Green 530-490
Yellow 580-550
Orange 640-590
Red 750-650
Infrared 1000-750

Find out more about violet (purple), the most powerful color of the rainbow.
 Purple - Is it the most supernatural color or is it truly happy?
Is purple the most supernatural color? Is purple the most supernatural color? Or is it just a happy color?

Color Symbolism

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