Are you color blind?
The answer to that depends on which species you compare yourself to. This weekend I caught a Radiolab broadcast on NPR about colors. It seems that humans have three color receptors: blue, green and red. Dogs have two, blue and green. Butterflies have five or six color receptors, meaning they can see colors we can’t. The lesser known mantis shrimp has a whopping 16 color receptors!
There is a multiplying effect when a species has more color receptors. We know that yellow and blue make green, and green and blue make turqouise. What color must deep ultra blue and ultra blue create? Our one extra color receptor compared to dogs opens the world to 98 more pigments than they see. Can you imagine what the world must look like to a butterfly or a mantis shrimp?
50 Shades of Gray– Ha!– Try 500 shades of ultra violet!
There are colors in this world that we will never see.
Colors we cannot name.
What color am I to the eyes of a butterfly or mantis shrimp? What color is the sky or my beloved’s eyes?
As a little girl, I used to stretch out my body in a sunbeam with my cat on sunny mornings. I’d marvel at the dust suspended in the air. Those particulates were always present, but could only be seen when the sunlight came in at a particular angle. Sometimes, while rolling around the sunbeam, I could catch rainbows from the prisms Mommy had hung on our leaded glass windows. One jiggle and tiny rainbows would spin around the room. Often times I would step into their path and watch the light turn my skin purple, red, yellow, green, blue and orange. If I remained quiet, only I would see them because the sunbeam never stayed long.
There is much to marvel at in our world. We could spend our lifetimes delighting in all that we see.
And all that we can’t see.