IIIb. The Aspect of Color

Roy G. Biv: How many bands in your rainbow?

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience. Alfred North Whitehead

Performance bands are arbitrary but useful

Qualitative meaning and quantitative precision

We all know our basic colors before we start to school. We learn early on that there are three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), from which all others can be created, although designers of color printers apparently missed that lesson. The ancients saw five colors (red, yellow, green, blue, violet) in the rainbow. Newton saw seven, adding orange and indigo (perhaps to align with the natural harmony of the universe found in the number of musical notes, days of the week, and known planets; or perhaps he was just buying some vowels.)  Continue reading . . . The Aspect of Color

[While my analogy comparing bands of the rainbow to performance levels may be cute, I probably don’t have the physiology right. While light is a continuous spectrum, our perception of discrete bands may be real, depending on the distribution of cones in our eyes. Was it more important to for our ancestors to discern white animals against a white background or to distinguish ripe fruit and poisonous reptiles.]

Previous: IIIa. Abstracting Some Aspects        Next: IIIc. Hot and Cold


4 thoughts on “IIIb. The Aspect of Color

  1. Fascinating reading, but I wish I had known about it with the first entry so I could have read them in order. I have only read them once, in reverse order, so may appreciate them even more when I return to them. I hope more of this sort of explanation is widely available now than was when when I attended classes. I was fortunate to be mathematically inclined and have good instruction, but it was not until professional school that I took a course in statistics. That allowed become to be more conversant with the language and tools one could use to systematically evaluate risks, potential benefits, and of course, plan & evaluate ones scientific studies.

    My concern is for the larger group of non-scientists, who may not realize the need for such considerations. I became concerned about them in 1961, and the need for everyone to understand the basics is much more obvious now. Perhaps you should consider writing a book for the general public to introduce them to the concepts — perhaps leaving the historical notes in an appendix. It could be useful for adults who never learned, or have forgotten, the practical aspects of measurement, errors, etc. AND for students in high school (or middle school) to make sense out of life and ease their entry into scientific courses. [I have not looked — perhaps there is already a book called MEASUREMENT FOR DUMMIES.] JTG 14 SEP 2014


    • It is the nature of blogs to sort in reverse chronological order; I haven’t found a way to reverse that and probably should warn people. And you can skip the reference list.

      As far as I know there isn’t a “Measurement for Dummies” although I have a friend, Jeff Smith now at the University of Otago, who once was working on “Statistics for the Simple Minded” but somebody else started the “Dummies” fad. Jeff and I have talked for years about writing the book you are talking about and I need him to do it with me. I have an over-whelming fear of insulting anyone’s intelligence and apparently am incapable of omitting any detail. I won’t mention our working title for fear someone else might run with it.

      Thanks for your feedback and enjoy Paris.


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