The Creation Of Color

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 7 2012 @ 2:18pm


by Zoë Pollock

A recent Radiolab episode on color tackled why neither The Odyssey nor The Iliad refer to the color blue. Lisa Wade summarizes:

Scholars theorize that this is because red is very common in nature, but blue is extremely rare.  The flowers we think of as blue, for example, are usually more violet than blue; very few foods are blue.  Most of the blue we see today is part of artificial colors produced by humans through manufacturing processes.  So, blue is the last color to be noticed and named. An exception to the rarity of blue in nature, of course — one that might undermine this theory — is the sky.  The sky is blue, right? Well, it turns out that seeing blue when we look up is dependent on already knowing that the sky is blue. 

Previous Dish on the science and psychology of color here and here.

("Liquid Rainbow, 2011" © Edwin Deen, courtesy of the artist, via Colossal)