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  • Factoids Part 5

Factoids Part 5

Factoids from the past. They're oldies but goodies and still true


Blue blood a lifesaver

The sapphire blue blood of the horseshoe crab is the world's only known substance that can be used to test for contaminants in every drug and every vaccine in the world. The crabs are "bled" by a fast and painless process. 24 hours later, they are returned to the ocean."LAL," the protein ingredient in the crab's blood, is dropped into a new batch of drugs. If the mixture is contaminated, it clots instantly. The same process is used for every intravenous substance and artificial limb in the U.S., as required by the FDA.Prior to the discovery of "LAL," drugs were tested for contaminants by injecting them into a rabbit. If the rabbit died or got sick, the lab disposed of the drug. Lab technician, Jay Nichols, sums up the horseshoe crab's magic, "No other animal contributes so much to science without dying in the process."

Source: "Living fossil's blue blood a lifesaver" by Helen O'Neill, Associated Press, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, A--12, September 7, 2000



Contact Lens Alert

After receiving reports that some teenagers in the U.S. are tinting their contact lens with food coloring, The American Optometric Association has issued an alert. They warn that this can be very dangerous. Some people can have serious allergic reactions to the food coloring. Also, since the dye is not sterile, this could lead to eye infections. Furthermore, dark colors may impair vision.

"Food -colored contacts? Don't even think about it"" the Honolulu Advertiser, Ohana, p.1, June 11, 2000



What happens when baboons eat pink flamingoes?

A new food source is changing the color of baboons near Kenya's Lake Bogoria. The primates have been dining on pink flamingoes. More than a million of these birds have recently arrived at the lake to feast on the lake's protein rich rotifers and blue-green algae. The dead birds are an easy food source for the primates. Researchers have reported that the monkeys' new taste for flamingoes is turning their gray coats into a tawny shade.

Earth Environment Service as reported in "Earthweek," the Honolulu Advertiser, May 21, 2000



What was the date of the first colored cellular phone?

Nokia, the Finnish telecommunications giant, was the first to offer cell phones in colors in 1992. Today, electronic devices are trading in their muted hues for something more vivid and vibrant. "What's your favorite color?" is going to be one of the most important questions for consumer PC buyers, states Steve Jobs.

Honolulu Star Bulletin, March 28, 2000




Black Tulips -The elusive "Holy Grail"  of the tulip world

The quest for the valuable “black tulip” has persisted since 1850 when Alexander Dumas (author of the Three Musketeers) wrote his novel, “The Black Tulip.” No truly black tulip exists to this day. The reason: It’s impossible.

Dutch hybridizers are still working on their own specialty - the elusive black tulip. Frans Roozen of the International Flower Bulb Center in the Netherlands explains: “To be truly black, the color would have to be absolutely devoid of any hues or overtones of other colors.” In nature this happens only in death.

Nevertheless, many tulips are sold as black tulips since colors are always perceived in relationship to other colors. When dark purple tulips are placed against a green background in bright sunlight, the effect is black.
(Color Matters suggests that you get out your crayons and try this!)

"Black tulips remain an elusive goal" Knight Ridder News Service - Honolulu Star Bulletin January, 2000

Commentary from some color pros:

All tulips are black in the dark

In the absence of any reflection at all, by definition there would be no measurable light coming from the tulip.

If the tulip was surrounded by other black tulips in a black room with one light, then colors from around the room or object would not play with our eyes, but we would not see any tulips and there would be no reflected light, and we wouldn't see anything.

But, use infrared film, and you will see the black tulips painted red. So, maybe it is not the question of 'has there ever been a black tulip,' but could we even SEE a black tulip if there was one. There would be no tulip, only a hole in space (a black hole!) consuming all visible light that reaches it. So, how could we even know if there was a perfectly black tulip? Answer: find a black hole that shows up on infrared film as a tulip, that wasn't visible otherwise.

Larry MacDonald



Death by Cyan

The color we know as cyan was once made from cornflower petals and was known as "corn blue." In the late nineteenth century the poisonous chemical cyanide was used to create "corn blue" dyes and pigments for commercial purposes. After a series of "cyan poisoning" deaths occurred in the silk flower industry, the color was discontinued. The name "cyan" was revived when color photography became popular. The traditional art world shunned these new technical artists of photography. Consequently, photographers used this color term to separate themselves from the rest of the artists.

Today, the term cyan has been revived by the computer artists. Once again, perhaps this is a form of "technical" upmanship since the art world first rejected computer generated art.

Source: Odeda Rosenthal, Inter-Society Color Counciil News, July/August, 1999 p. 5


Mellow yellow ?

The color yellow may be taking over the marketing world. Research from Pantone reveals that a yellow background with black type is the the best color combination for printed material. Tests show that this combination scores the hightest in memory retention and in legibility. It's also the color that the human eye notices first. Move over Big Blue?

The Costco Connection, December, 1999


Natural Blondes Are an Endangered Species

A new book states that natural blondes rely on a recessive gene which is being dominated by darker-haired genes. Kathy Phillips, author of "The Vogue Book of Blondes," explains that migration and open marriages have increased in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, the epicenters of the blond population. Experts point to Africa for the next population expansion. These people will travel and their darker genes will absorb the lighter gene pool.

Phillips predicts that by the time this happens, genetic engineering will allow us to tweak our genes and go blonde anyway.

Source "Blond Gene is Dying Out" by Lyndsay Griffiths - Reuters, Honolulu Star Bulletin, October 7, 1999



  Black rainbow sighting!

Kahuku, Hawaii
Two fisherman reported seeing what looked like a black rainbow arching from the mountain to the ocean at 9:00 P.M. at night

Can a black rainbow occur at night ?

"Moonbows" coincide with a full moon and are the result of light refrating through water droplets in the atmosphere. If the water vapor is in the right place and if the sky is clear, a bright full moon acts like the sun and you will see a rainbow at night.

The rainbow may appear black, but all the colors are there. "It's just that there's no blue sky to paint it against."

Note: This is not a common occurence. The clear skies and moist air of the Hawaiian Islands make this location one of the few places where a "moonbow" can be seen.

"Moonbows only appear to be black," June Watanabe, Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 17, 1999



Green Mice

Scientists reported that feeding mice a special diet of Christmas tree mulch caused the mice to turn green. Well....not exactly. It's not what the mice ate that caused some mice to turn green. They were born with a green gene from a jellyfish. The University of Hawaii research team that cloned mice (Yanagimachi, Perry and Wakayama) has developed a new method of transferring genetic information (DNA) from one organism to another.

The technique called "Honolulu transgenesis" is reported in the May 14 edition of Science.

"UH Green Mice: A medical promise" - by Helen Altonn, Honolulu Star Bulletin, May 13, 1999


color consult brand

Fall presents orange ad the new "in" color (1999)

The fall color of "Sunkist" orange is popping up everywhere in fashion. From designer-prophet Helmut Lang's fall collection to Gap vests and Absolut Vodka.*

Why orange? Perhaps it all started with the acceptance of khaki and grey as the new neutrals. Also, one might speculate that orange follows the acceptance of pink in the spring.

*The author of ColorMatters notes that Apple's dazzling new iBook laptop computer is offered in only two colors, blue and orange!

The Dallas Morning News, as reported in the Honolulu Advertiser September 7, 1999



Baa baa blue sheep, have you any wool?

A farmer in Adelaide Australia announced that she has produced the first flock of blue sheep without using dye. The owner, Nancy Follett of Sleaford Bay, said she has bred 100 sheep with fleece ranging from light blue to navy. It took 25 years and several generations of breeding to get a brilliant blue color.



Fool nighttime bugs

If it's summer in your part of the world, use this tip the next time you barbecue or eat outdoors. Place a bug repellent yellow fluorescent light bulb over your table. Place a standard fluorescent bulb at the opposite end of your dining or patio area. Bugs can't see yellow! They'll be drawn to the whiter light away from your table.



Color Revolution
Purple asparagus and red corn?

Brightly colored vegetables are now available in W. Atlee & Burpee's seed catalogue. The red corn is appropriately named "Ruby Queen" and the yellow carrots (absolutely no trace of orange) are named "Sweet Sunshine." How about some "Purple Passion" asparagus? Burpee's phone number is 1-800-888-1447 .

"Vegetables now come brightly colored", Honolulu Star Bulletin April 25, 1999



How do chickens with male hormones eat their colored food?

When chickens were fed male hormones, they pecked at their colored food in different ways. They ate all the red until it was gone, then all the yellow. The other chickens (no male hormones) ate all the different colored food in no order.

Does this provide a clue to multi-tasking abilities of the male species? Also, could this also explain why men hate shopping?

It all comes back to nerve fibers and how they relate to visual stimulation.

Men tend to focus on singular tasks, such as reading the newspaper, and get irritated when interrupted. Wives can't understand why men can't do two things at once.

"Men are from caves, not Mars," by Janet L. Martineau., Newhouse News Service, Honolulu Star Bulletin February 8, 1999
Editor's note, Feb. 2011: We tried to find more information about this study and could not verify it other than the citation about the article in the Honolulu newspaper.



If all things are equal, what makes a product or label catch the consumer's eye?

Hint: the answer is related to color.


Second hint: It may be also be something about the surface effect of a color.




Source "All that glitters may be the label" by Judith Schoolman, Honolulu Star Bulletin, October 1997.



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